WELSH actor Michael Sheen and singer Paul Potts came home last night to persuade their countrymen to share their dream of establishing a world-class health and rehabilitation centre in Wales.
The pair were in their hometown of Port Talbot to raise the profile of the Treat Trust’s £10m appeal, which will be kick-started on February 25 with an all-star dinner.
Melanie Davies – who was left paraplegic at 15 after a motorcycle accident – and her retired surgeon husband, Mike, founded TREAT (Treatment, Rehabilitation, Exercise And Therapy) in 2000.
They hope to start construction before 2015. The building will include ramped-access to a heated swimming pool and modern gymnasium, as well as physiotherapy and complementary therapies including music and art.
At a press conference at the town’s Blanco’s Hotel last night, the superstars said: “It’s no pipe dream – where in it for the long run.”
It’s a dream that’s already taking form – Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board has offered a suitable site next to Morriston Hospital for a peppercorn rent, while the determined couple have managed to secure building materials and services from professionals.
Hollywood star Sheen – currently in Wales working on the Passion Plays after filming the Twilight vampire saga – became involved after his father Meyrick got to know Treat founder Melanie and is now the trust’s president.
Britain’s Got Talent star Potts became a patron after choosing it as his local charity.
Sheen, 41, told the Western Mail: “My mother Irene recently had a hip replacement operation and I’m very well aware of how big a challenge rehabilitation is over months and months –something like Treat would be able to help hugely in that process.
“You only need to go on the beach to see people in wheelchairs, their carers . . . people with all sorts of obstacles in their lives, to realise what a lift this would give them.
“There are very few places like this in the world and Treat would be so innovative and unique.
“I care very much about the people of my hometown and would be very proud to be helping to create a world class facility for them that they deserve.”
Melanie knows first hand the difference such a facility will make to the people of South Wales and she has won the backing of a formidable group of patrons, trustees and supporters.
Currently fighting her second bout of breast cancer, the 31-year-old won’t let a little thing like a recession stop her. The couple are now putting together a business case hoping for matched funding from the Assembly Government.
She said: “People are still suffering, disabled, needing rehabilitation – a positive lift regardless of the financial circumstances.
“We still have a duty to care and help and support people back into a full and independent life, making a contribution to society and releasing NHS beds.
“This will be a place for everyone – we were put on this planet for a purpose and there’s no better one than this. We’ve just got to go for it.”
Former phone salesman Potts – now a world-class singer – was effusive but determined: “I know of just how low I was, being long-term unemployed. Treat will be there for everyone and everyone can do their bit to help.
“It’s great to have a vision and I’ve no doubt that we’ll make it happen. It’s just a matter of when.”