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Gravesend panto star and Britain's Got Talent hopeful Mama G to host British Heart Foundation fundraiser at Woodville Theatre


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A mum and a pantomime star will be partners in crime as they are set to launch a wartime murder mystery night fundraiser.

Philippa Dunstan-Magee lost her husband, Sam Magee, three years ago while he was waiting for lung and heart transplants, and wishes to do the event in his memory.

From left: Philippa with daughter Molly, husband Sam with sons Finn and Drake (far right). Philippa Dunstan-Magee
From left: Philippa with daughter Molly, husband Sam with sons Finn and Drake (far right). Philippa Dunstan-Magee

The Gravesend dad had problems with his heart since he was born, being one of the first babies to have open heart surgery in the 1970s.

Sam was on a waiting list for a heart and lung transplant, but passed away three years ago aged just 46.

Philippa, a mum-of-three, now wants to keep her husband's memory alive through the event, called Murder in a Heartbeat, to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

Her friend and pantomime dame Rob Pearce, also known as Mama G, will be in charge of producing the show, as well as starring it. Mama G will also appear on the hit ITV show Britain's Got Talent tomorrow.

The 51-year-old said she is determined to continue Sam's legacy by raising as much money as she can for heart research.

Despite having organised other fundraisers with Sam, this event might be the toughest for Philippa, as it will be the first time she will not have her partner by her side.

Sam Magee passed way three years ago whilst waiting for a lung and heart transplant. Picture: Philippa Dunstan-Magee
Sam Magee passed way three years ago whilst waiting for a lung and heart transplant. Picture: Philippa Dunstan-Magee

She said: "It has been a tough journey, and it’s been particularly hard on my kids, but we’re okay. We’ve come out the other end because we had so much quality time with Sam at the end and he was really instrumental in sorting out the future for the kids.

"He's absolutely made his death very easy for them to come to terms with.

"However, this fundraiser will probably the most difficult one for me, believe it or not. Just because Sam's always been present at the others, helping and working alongside us. He was the absolute star of the evening, so I’m probably going to feel like I’m losing my left arm on the night.

"But although it’ll probably be the toughest one, it’ll probably be the one that will mean the most to me."

Philippa and Sam on their wedding day. Picture: Phillipa Dunstan-Magee
Philippa and Sam on their wedding day. Picture: Phillipa Dunstan-Magee

The wartime-themed event will see almost 200 guests unveil the mysteries involving a wartime theatre group, the Heartbeat Players, who have decided to put on a show to raise everyone's spirits during the war effort.

However, their spectacle would be hijacked by a few nefarious characters, including a Nazi spy.

Rob, who has been a family friend for the past seven years, said he was honoured to have been chosen to produce the show, but added it comes with great responsibility.

The 38-year-old panto dame said: "I was incredibly honoured when Philippa asked me to be involved. It's quite scary because obviously, but murder mysteries, aren't something I have much knowledge of apart from watching them on the television and what I normally write is pantos to children. Also, this is Sam's legacy, and it means a lot to me that we get it right."

Those attending will enjoy a night of murder mystery, as well as a sit-down meal, disco and auction.

Murder in a Heartbeat will take place on June 18
Murder in a Heartbeat will take place on June 18

Murder in a Heartbeat will take place at The Woodville Theatre, in Gravesend, on June 18 at 7pm.

Philippa, who is the theatre's box office senior, said the date and theme could not be fit better with Sam's personality.

She said: "June 18 is quite a good day because it would’ve been Sam’s birthday on May 29. So it’s quite nice that we managed to do it a bit close to the date.

"Sam always had quite a dark sense of humour and I really liked the title of Murder in a Heartbeat. I just thought it was really relevant to the whole heart story.

"It would be a different, funny night.

"But more than anything, I think it's really important that fundraising continues in his name because he did put a lot of work into fundraising himself, even when he was already feeling really poorly and quite sick."

The mum is also appealing for luxury prizes for the auction and raffle on the night.

If you can help, please contact Philippa at anyonewhohasaheart@outlook.com. For full details, visit www.woodville.co.uk

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