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GOING OUT WITH A BANG BANG: Cher's ward rage; EXCLUSIVE Star's fury over bid to close Scots homeopathic hospital lShe donates 20,000 euros to help campaign fighting fund.

Byline: By BILLY SLOAN

POP superstar Cher has volunteered to lead the fight to save a Scottish hospital ward from closure. The US singer is furious that Glasgow Homeopathic in-patient's unit is being axed as part of proposed financial cuts of pounds 58million.

She has vowed to make a personal donation of 20,000 euros around pounds 13,500 to launch a fighting fund to help a campaign to keep it open.

In an exclusive interview, Cher revealed why she is so passionate about saving the hospital, based in the city's Gartnavel General.

In 1987, homeopathic medicine saved her life after she was struck by a debilitating viral illness.

Cher told me: 'I don't think I'd still be around today if it wasn't for homeopathic medicine. I was sick with an Epstein-Barr virus which led to chronic fatigue and I couldn't work effectively for two years.

'I tried regular medicine and it just didn't work. Doctors said any illness was all in my head. People thought I was crazy.

'I turned to a Sikh homeopathic doctor, almost in desperation. He started doing homeopathic stuff with herbs and vitamin therapy.

'Many doctors didn't believe in all that back then. Within four months, he'd got me up and back on the road again.'

Cher hopes her donation will encourage others to pledge cash to help keep the hospital open.

Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital is the only centre of its kind in the UK to offer overnight accommodation. It treats 500 in-patients a year.

Last week, it was named as a target of NHS Greater Glasgow's cuts, aimed at slashing pounds 58million from the city's health budget.

Staff and patients condemn the move as false economy. They claim it could lead to bigger care bills for Greater Glasgow Health Board. On open. I'm not quite sure exactly what that will mean but I'd be prepared to do anything I can to help.

'If the people who are trying to keep this place open contact me, I'll be happy to help. Somebody should act. People should petition Government or chain themselves to the hospital doors. They shouldn't let it happen.'

Cher has vowed that Tuesday's show at the SECC will be her last appearance in Scotland. She's quitting touring nearly 40 years after her first hit in 1965, I Got You Babe, as part of Sonny And Cher. She went on to have a 38-year solo career, starting with hit Bang Bang.

Her late ex-husband Sonny Bono died in 1997 after a skiing accident near Lake Tahoe, California. They had one daughter, Chastity.

Cher told me: 'Not only is this the last time I'll play in Scotland... it's the last time I'll play anywhere.

'I won't be sitting at home with my feet up, though. The only time I'll ever do that is when I'm dead.

'I still want to make albums and do more movies. I want to direct a film or do a play on Broadway or the West End of London. I won't miss touring. After a while, it's really time to stop some things.'

Cher is that rare artist, a pop singer who's also made an incredibly successful career as an actress.

In 1987, she won a Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck, appearing opposite Nicholas Cage.

Cher told me: 'If I had to choose a moment from my career, it would have to be the Academy Award.

'When I'd first said I wanted to do movies, everybody thought it was a joke. They didn't think I was serious.

'I'd never won anything in the music business. Not even a Grammy for my songs. So it was a special moment. A great time in my life. I keep my Oscar in my office.'

Tuesday, Cher, 57, played a sell-out concert for10,000fans at the SECC, Glasgow, on her farewell world tour. Earlier that day, she watched a television report about the proposed closure. It made her so angry she contacted me to offer her services to help save it.

Cher said: 'It takes a lot to get me mad but there was steam coming out of my ears when I saw this.

'This is ridiculous. People need this place. It's a great hospital.

'I wanted to lend my weight to any campaign to keep the hospitalmailfile

Cher

Born Cherilyn Sarkisian La Piere on May 20, 1946, in El Centro, California.

Married Sonny Bono, 1963. First hit, I Got You Babe, 1965.

Won Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck, 1987. Films include Mermaids, Witches of Eastwick and Silkwood.

Sonny died in 1997 after a ski-ing accident.

CAPTION(S):

Fighting fund: Billy and Cher at the SECC last week; Under threat:; Homeopathic unit at Gartnavel Hospital
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 16, 2004
Words:781
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