Monday, 21 November 2011

Friends, foundations and fundraising

What an amazing few weeks this has been in the life of Read College.  Our first official fundraising event has raised an astonishing £1365.00 towards the 2012 Student Bursary fund thanks to some wonderful friends and supporters, and we have even had a cheque arrive through the letterbox from a movie star.

Recently, we've been contacting people with whom we have worked over the years to tell them about the work of Read College and the charity that we have established, and - on an off chance - I got a bit confident and emailed Judi Dench's agent (I was lucky enough to work with her eons ago as a child!).  The agency were good and thorough enough to forward the message to her PA, and her PA was equally efficient and passed the email along to Judi Dench herself.  It was a shock and a delight to receive a return email apologising that Dame Judi was unable to answer the email personally, due to being on set filming but that she would like to become a supporter of Read College and donate some money to fund our audition preparation master-classes for the season.

Meanwhile, we were also planning our first fundraising event for the college - An Evening of Cabaret with Jamie Read & Stars of The West End.  In other words, I managed to convince some wonderful friends with whom I worked on various shows as an actor, to give up their time for free and sing to help raise funds and awareness.  And that is exactly what they did.  Juliette Caton (Martin Guerre), Shaun Dalton (Les Mis), Helen Power (Chess) and Ellie Verkerk as MD (Jersey Boys), all gave up their precious day off to come out to the wilds of West Berkshire and help us fly the flag.

The event was an incredible success, bringing together our students past and present, their families, our families, friends, colleagues and strangers, and showing them what we do and why we do it.  People were incredibly generous with their time and money, and for both we are very grateful indeed.

So, in a time of austerity measures and funding cuts I am pleased to report that people's generosity of spirit seems to be as strong as ever.  Thank goodness for great friends!

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