Harpenden heart failure patient enjoys surprise visit from Heartbeat actor

Heartbeat star Fiona Dolman with Harpenden fan Jamie Wilding.

Heartbeat star Fiona Dolman with Harpenden fan Jamie Wilding. - Credit: Archant

A Harpenden heart failure patient enjoyed a surprise visit from the star of one of his favourite TV shows.

Actor Fiona Dolman sat down with Jamie Wilding, 29, from Pickford Hill, to talk Heartbeat, football, rugby, the London Marathon and comparing tattoos.

The star, who plays Sarah Barnaby in ITV's Midsomer Murders and whose other acting credits include The Royal Today, The Bill and Holby City, was visiting the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted ahead of their annual general meeting last week.

"It was amazing," said Jamie afterwards. "It definitely made my day - it was something I never thought I'd be able to do. I even said to her 'I can't believe this is happening.'

"She was amazingly warm - I went to shake her hand and she just gave me a big hug instead. I've been a fan since the late 90's - I really like her character Jackie Bradley because she's feisty like me. We talked about Heartbeat and how my nan, who's 82, and aunty visit the set near Whitby every year and loads of other things, including my nine tattoos, which she loved. It was just lovely of her to make time to come and chat to me."

In response to messages from Fiona, nine other Heartbeat cast members past and present have been sending Jamie personal videos, saying hello and wishing him well, including Tricia Penrose, who plays Heartbeat sweetheart Gina Bellamy, and Joe McFadden, aka PC Joe Mason.

Jamie said: "It's been crazy seeing all the faces I recognise saying hello to me, it's made my year!"

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Fiona also addressed hospice patrons, association members, supporters, trustees, volunteers and staff, speaking with heartfelt candour about the hospice's "invaluable, exceptional and seamless" care for her late father, Gordon, from Kings Langley.

"The peace that came from dad being cared for at St Francis was immeasurable," she said.

"The excellence was across the board, the empathy and compassion was from each and every member of staff at all times from the gardeners, cleaners and volunteers to the physios, community team, wonderful nurses, consultants and chaplain. All of them took their time and gave their respect and patience to dad and to all of us."