17 November 2009
Each extraordinary piece of theatre created at Chickenshed presents the same message: that anyone can thrive in an environment where everyone is welcome.
In mid November Cherie attended the spectacular 35th birthday party of Chickenshed, an all-inclusive theatre group from Southgate. As a supporter of the theatre company for many years, Cherie celebrated their success alongside many other enthusiasts at the Chickenshed Grand Gala at the Royal Albert Hall.
Chickenshed works using a broad creative method which means everyone is welcome, and everyone is valued. It opens its doors to all young people despite their background, age, race or ability. They run Children's and Youth Theatre workshops for 600 people, education courses for over 100 students, community outreach projects and a network of satellite 'Sheds' across the country so even more can benefit. Each extraordinary piece of theatre created at Chickenshed presents the same message: that anyone can thrive in an environment where everyone is welcome. They have produced more than 1000 performances since they started in 1974 at many places including The Royal Albert Hall, The Royal Lyceum and even 10 Downing Street, a visit at Cherie's invitation when her husband was Prime Minister.
Around 2,300 guests joined Cherie, Lady Jane Rayne, Joanna Lumley (as guest of honour), Victoria Wood, Maria Friedman, Bob Hoskins and other fans of Chickenshed at the biggest occasion ever held by the company. The event started with a poignant speech by Joanna Lumley about the theatre company's work, which was followed by 500 members of the company staging a cabaret performance for guests whilst they enjoyed a three course dinner.
Susan Jamson, spokeswoman for Chickenshed, was delighted with the event. She said:
"It was an absolutely huge success. The place was packed and the atmosphere was electric. We had 500 members on stage who had never performed to that many people before, and everyone stood and clapped for about five minutes afterwards. It was quite remarkable. It was quite spectacular having so many people come to support us after 35 years."
The entertainment also included a "money can't buy" auction conducted by Lord Harry Dalmeny from Sotheby's. Among its prizes were holidays, backstage passes and tickets to West End Broadway productions and one of the top prizes was a training session with the England rugby team, accompanied by 24 friends. Organisers hope to have raised more than £750,000 from the event as Chickenshed needs £3 million every year to maintain current funding levels.
The group is based at Rayne Theatre, in Chase Side, Southgate. For more information about Chickenshed click here