'Heart of gold': Remembering George Michael on Christmas Day anniversary

Tributes outside George Michael's house in Highgate, following the singer's death.

Tributes outside George Michael's house in Highgate, following the singer's death. - Credit: PA

Christmas Day marks the fifth anniversary of George Michael's death.

The pop supremo, who found fame with Wham! and then as a Grammy winning soloist, was for years Highgate's secret benefactor, paying for the annual Christmas Tree.

His generosity extended further, secretly funding the annual Fair in the Square, enjoyed by thousands.

The hitmaker, who was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in East Finchley, sold more than 100 million albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades.

George Michael performing Last Christmas on stage at Wembley Stadium in 2006

George Michael performing Last Christmas on stage at Wembley Stadium in 2006 - Credit: Heidi Feichtinger

On April 7, 1985, Wham! made history as the first Western pop group to perform in China. 

Two years later George's album Faith won a Grammy for best album of the year.

The 53-year-old, who lived in The Grove, was found dead at his second home in Goring-on-Thames in 2016.

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A coroner ruled the Last Christmas singer died of natural causes from a heart and liver condition.

George Michael in Vienna in 2012

George Michael in Vienna in 2012 - Credit: Heidi Feichtinger

George’s death sent shockwaves around the world when it was announced.

Heidi Feichtinger, who lives in Enfield, has launched a fundraiser with all proceeds going to the Rainbow Trust, of which George was a patron.

"Myself and my twin sister were lifelong George Michael fans, we used to travel the world and see him in concert when he went back on tour in 2006.

"We were very lucky and privileged to be able to do that and we met so many amazing friends from around the world.

"Then suddenly when George died five years ago, because we were the most local people to Highgate, friends we had met said 'could you take some flowers to Highgate' and that's how our Facebook group was born, from connections we had from friendships that we made."

She added: "George was also such an incredible performer. He had the charisma on stage like no-one else that I've ever seen perform live.

"Although we never met him, he had a heart of gold, absolute heart of gold, generous, he supported so many charities, but he'd always do it it quietly out of the glare of mainstream media."

George Michael super fans Heidi and Helen Feichtinger watching him perform in Philadelphia in 2008

George Michael super fans Heidi and Helen Feichtinger watching him perform in Philadelphia in 2008 - Credit: Heidi Feichtinger

She said she and her sister Helen set up the fundraiser to continue the "legacy of giving". 

In just over four years, the Facebook group has raised more than £40,000 with raffles and walks.

"It's just ways of what we can do as fans to keep his memory alive because he's too important to forget."

To donate, visit https://george-michael-1963-2016.muchloved.com/

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