Publish date: 26 October 2023

Poirot actor Sir David Suchet and Lady Suchet (Sheila Ferris) visited the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre to meet long-serving UCLH volunteer, Jeannie Porter yesterday.


The renowned acting couple also met UCLH chief nurse Vanessa Sweeney and Cancer Centre staff, patients and even a stem cell donor. They chatted with fans and gave smiles for selfies for excited patients and staff.

As Agatha Christie's detective Hercule Poirot (1989–2013) Sir David has received international acclaim. He was knighted in 2020 for services to drama and charity. His grandson has Tuberous Sclerosis and he fundraises and speaks out about access to medication for genetic diseases. 

Sheila Ferris, Lady Suchet, is known for Yes Minister (1980), The House of Eliott (1991) and Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em (1973). 

On the work of UCLH volunteers, Sir David said;

“It is inspiring to see people who are so moved to help others. You can clearly see how rewarding and valuable it is for everyone involved. Sometimes people may imagine that a large London hospital may be impersonal but the wonderful staff and volunteers foster a very special sense of community to support and comfort people when they need it most. We were delighted to visit and lend our support to the wonderful work being done by UCLH volunteers.”

UCLH chief nurse Vanessa Sweeney said;

“We are incredibly grateful to Sir David and Lady Suchet for shining a spotlight on the wonderful work that volunteers do at UCLH, supporting patients and staff alike, and bringing their wonderful kind and caring energies into our hospitals.”  

Vanessa observed;

“It is a neat twist of fate that Agatha Christie was also at UCLH. She was a pharmacist at UCLH during World War II and later wrote 30 poison-related murders into her books.”

UCLH Volunteer Jeannie Porter hosted the visit and guided Sir David and Lady Suchet during their tour. Asked about what has kept her volunteering for many years Jeannie Porter said;

“If I can make someone smile with a kind word or a cup of tea on the day that they receive the bad news about a diagnosis then that is good enough motivation for me.”

Clive Pankhurst, UCLH volunteers lead said;

“Jeannie has been volunteering for the Macmillan Support and Information Team at the Cancer Centre for over 9 years and is a superstar. It has been great to host this visit to celebrate all that she has given us as a volunteer along with the 370 other volunteers who come in each week. Volunteers are such a key part of the team at UCLH and do so much to help us improve our patient experience.”