Friday 8th May 2020 became a day of great excitement for all the fans of a beloved story, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again written by J.R.R. Tolkien in 1937. British actor Andy Serkis, whose voice millions know from his legendary role of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies, launched a very special charity event, a so-called 12-hour Hobbitathon, to raise money for two charities – Best Beginnings, for which the actor has been an ambassador for more than six years, and NHS Charities Together .

Best Beginnings supports families, regardless of their socio-economic background, by informing and empowering parents during pregnancy and the early stages of parenthood. Their aim is to provide various educational and interactive tools that enable new parents and parents-to-be to create a healthy and happy environment for their baby.

The second charity, NHS Charities Together, is a membership organisation representing NHS charities. The organisation inspires and supports the development of NHS Charity members (there are more than 250 official NHS charities across the UK). Everyday NHS Charities give over £1 million to the NHS so that patients can recover faster and stay well for longer. NHS Charities Together has launched COVID-19 Urgent Appeal that has raised over £100 million in 6 weeks.

Reading the entire book from cover to cover in about twelve hours is undoubtedly a challenge comparable to a real marathon. “Gotta think about all the things that marathons entail, like comfort breaks and how you sustain yourself and all of those things,” said Andy Serkis.

The actor ended up taking only very short breaks in between the chapters to have some water and to rest the voice. By the end of the marathon the audience could see Andy had had to drink quite a lot of tea to keep reading almost non-stop for such a long period of time. At 11:00 BST the actor paused to observe a two-minute silence for VE Day.

“That’s what we wants now, yes; we wants it!”: Andy Serkis' 12-hour Hobbit reading marathon fundraiser

“I want to take you on one of the greatest fantasy adventures ever written…”

The amazing adventure that Andy had promised when announcing the charity event was indeed truly magical. He gave millions of people, struggling with stress and anxiety during the lockdown, a chance to spend an entire day being immersed in atmospheric vibes of The Hobbit world: with trolls, goblins, dwarves, giant spiders, Smaug the Magnificent and, of course, Gollum and his riddle game.

The outstanding storytelling of the actor makes you feel like you are right there, escaping from ferocious Gollum and “creepsy and tricksy goblinses” together with Bilbo Baggins. Andy Serkis not only encouraged people to unite for a major fundraiser but also shared a highly imaginative vision of the most tense and thrilling scenes in the book, with his voice being his only tool (apart from the charming Gollum statue!)

The first hour of the reading was seen by around 15,000 viewers. Here are some of the comments:

My baby son and I spent a lovely day listening to Andy’s wonderful performance – I think my son wants to be friends with Gollum and Smaug, he was agog at those parts. Well done Andy, amazing stuff!”

“It’s a classic and his reading is an epic worthy of a tale itself; imagine the effort to do this. A reading of the Hobbit by one of the greatest authors by the gentleman playing Smeagol/Gollum. Priceless. Thank you for reading it for us, your effort and aid in these times is greatly appreciated!”

“Thank you, Andy, to you and everyone else who made this possible. What a lovely read through and experience this was and for a wonderful cause. All the best to you and everyone!”

Over 19,000 people have made a donation to raise more than £ 275,000, as of May 8th. All the money raised will be split equally between NHS Charities Together and Best Beginnings.

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