Alumni engagement and philanthropy


Collage of 14 NHS staff and singers performing Heal this Broken Land

23 April 2020

With seriously ill patients starting to recover from coronavirus, singers, performers and musicians from Ireland – North and South – have joined forces to thank frontline NHS staff and to raise funds in support of those recovering from COVID-19 after prolonged stays in intensive care.

Over thirty artists including Andrea Begley, Peter Corry, Duke Special, Brian Kennedy, Margaret Keys and many other household names have today (April 23, 2020) launched Heal This Broken Land, a specially reworked version of the Top 20 1988 hit Broken Land by Belfast band The Adventures, to help fund research at Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University (UU).

Professor Judy Bradley from the School of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences at Queen’s along with Dr Brenda O'Neill from the School of Health Sciences at UU will begin their research by collecting information from patients after hospitalisation with COVID-19.

Using assessment techniques for physical and mental well-being Professor Bradley’s team will be pioneering an understanding within Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom more broadly, about what interventions are needed to help COVID-19 survivors to regain their strength both physically and mentally.

Because this is a new virus nothing is currently known about what care and support is required to ensure sufferers return to full health.

Queen’s has expressed its gratitude to local TV producer Petra Ellis and Cormac O’Kane, a record producer from Red Box Recording Studio in Belfast, for the fundraising initiative. Nathalie Trott, the University’s Director of Development and Alumni Relations, said: “What a really wonderful idea; our thanks go out to Petra and Cormac for choosing to bring together their musical friends to create a video thanking the NHS and raising funds for such important research.

“The researchers at Queen’s and UU want to make sure that everyone in Northern Ireland can receive exceptional care and support through their recoveries. 

“Huge thanks also go to all those who gave their time in support of this effort in the face of COVID-19 and to those who will ultimately download the video or otherwise give to the appeal.

"But more than anything, the University would like to acknowledge and thank all those key frontline staff - in the NHS and elsewhere - who are doing so much, for so many at this most difficut time." 

Petra Ellis explains how the video was produced during the constraints of the current lockdown. “I got together with Cormac and contacted a few of our musical friends and asked them if they'd like to take part in a heartfelt tribute to the NHS.

“The original Broken Land was a huge hit in the late 80s for The Adventures. The writer of the original song, Pat Gribben, very kindly agreed to rewrite the lyrics to suit.

“All the singers contributed by phone or home studio, and then fed their contributions to Cormac who edited and produced the video.

“Special thanks must go to Liam and Steve at Red Box Media for the use of the photos from the Mater Hospital, to Jeni Hamilton of the Ulster Hospital for the pics of their NHS staff and to Carole O'Kane for the montage at the end.

“And most importantly...thanks to the NHS,” said Petra.

Those wishing to support the appeal can make a donation via the link below. Full details of all those involved in the video can be found on a special Queen's University web page




“Proceeds of £50,000 will enable this project to get underway with the funding used to explore what specific resources are needed to support recovery and provide the confidence they need to return to daily activities,” explains Nathalie Trott.

“Funding of up to £200,000 will help Professor Bradley and her team to develop a bespoke rehabilitation programme and then to test this in a clinical trial. This will ensure that patients will get the most effective support and care they need to optimise recovery.

“It will also ensure that rehabilitation interventions are available for patients infected with COVID-19 in the future,” she added.

Any funds raised in excess of £200,000 will be directed to the University’s Rapid Response Innovation Fund set up to support the area of greatest need, including the provision of start-up funding for other COVID-19 related research projects. Previously the Fund has enabled Queen’s to scale up its efforts in the production of essential PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and to support the simulated training of students going into medical, nursing and other frontline roles.

Further information on Queen's University Belfast's response to the COVID-19 coronavirus, can be found at: 

For more on this initiative please contact Stephen O’Reilly, Regular Giving Manager in the Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO) at Queen’s University Belfast. For general enquiries about this story or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, DARO Communications Officer. 


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