A DJ and Elvis impersonator who raised more than £200,000 over 25 years of fundraising for Francis House Children’s Hospice has seen his dedication recognised with a prestigious MEN Pride of Manchester Award.
For more than half a century Jim Nicholas has taken to the stage at hundreds of club venues with his unique mix of music and Elvis performances. At each show, he puts out a collection box for the charity close to his heart and his efforts rewarded by donations from grateful fans.
Jim, 73, from Swinton, was shocked and surprised to be presented with the award by Pride of Manchester award host Kym Marsh.
He had thought he was attending a hospice fundraising meeting at a hotel to discuss ways of raising money. His wife Denise even persuaded him to dress in his Elvis outfit for the occasion, but he was met instead by former Coronation Street star and singer Kym Marsh.
“It was fantastic to meet Kym. I’m so proud that someone has thought about nominating me and I feel very humbled to get this award.”
Jim started performing when he was eighteen but after losing his voice, he switched to become a Disco DJ and Elvis impersonator. He worked as the head gardener at Bishop of Salford’s residence at Wardley Hall, Worsley, when he was introduced to Francis House in the early 1990’s.
“I am hoping the fundraising has helped the families who come to Francis House and the staff who do a heck of a job to care for them.
“If I stay in good health, I’d love to continue fundraising. I get a real buzz from performing and a big thrill from getting on that stage. As long as people enjoy themselves – and they must do as they keep coming back – then I’ll keep doing it and raising money for Francis House.”
Coronavirus restrictions ruled out the glittering red carpet evening planned for the MEN Pride of Manchester Awards, in partnership with TSB. The winners were instead honoured in a unique virtual celebration, free for all to watch on Facebook Live and YouTube.
After being handed his trophy, Jim performed a short rendition of the Elvis classic ‘Are you Lonesome Tonight’.
David Ireland of Francis House said:
“What Jim has achieved is phenomenal. He has shown incredible generosity and commitment to Francis House with his fundraising for more than 25 years. I have had the pleasure of knowing Jim for a long time and he lives for doing things for other people. We are thrilled his dedication has been recognised with this fantastic award.”
The hospice supports more than 500 families of children and young people with life-limiting conditions from across the whole of Greater Manchester including, Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Stockport, Trafford, Cheshire and Manchester.
The charity relies heavily on donations to fund the bulk of its work and has been hit hard with the cancellation of fundraising events as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
The Pride of Manchester Awards can be viewed on YouTube here.