Downton Abbey star and home-grown talent Brendan Coyle is to be a patron of Lakelands Hospice in Corby.
The actor was in the town at the weekend when he attended two shows at The Core theatre staged by his cousin Helen King’s dance school.
Brendan, whose mum and other family members live in the town, said: “I am very happy to be a patron of the hospice.
“It plays a vital role in the town and it’s important it receives support.”
The hospice in Butland Road, needs to raise £475,000 a year to pay for the many services it provides, including overnight care at home for terminally-ill patients.
Fiona Castle, the widow of entertainer, singer and TV presenter Roy Castle, is already a hospice patron and Paul Marlow, Lakelands community fundraiser, welcomed Brendan to the team.
He said: “We are delighted to have his backing, which is even more appreciated because we know how busy he is.
“He is a local man who has always given the hospice his support in the past.
“The job of a patron is vital to a charity like ours to lift its profile and promote its work.”
Hospice fundraiser and a huge Downton Abbey fan Karen Rymarz approached Brendan and asked him if he would agree to be a patron.
She said: “I have had several conversations with Brendan about the hospice and its services and the need to keep raising funds and he expressed his wish to help.
“We are delighted he has agreed to be patron and help promote and highlight Lakelands.”
The award-winning actor, who has homes in London and Norfolk, is now filming for the third series of Downton Abbey which will be screened later in the year.
He will also be on television screens again on Sunday in a leading role in the new Sky 1 comedy series Starlings, along with actress Lesley Sharp.
Brendan said: “I’m busy at the moment but it’s always good to come back to Corby and see everyone.
“Helen, my cousin, does a fantastic job supporting local talent and giving young people a chance to express themselves.
“I really enjoyed the shows.”
Dozens of dancers from Helen King’s School of Dancing in Corby and Oakham took part in the shows on Saturday and Sunday and won standing ovations from the packed houses.
After the performances Brendan took to the stage to praise his cousin Helen, the young dancers and their families.
He said: “Everyone has had the time of their lives.”
Fundraising at both performances raised £310 which will go to Lakelands Hospice.