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2018.03 Concert in aid of Candlelighters Children’s Cancer Charity

“Songs from the Shows” a concert in aid of Candlelighters Children’s Cancer Charity, The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr. Jane Dowson’s chosen charity

Performed by St. Mary’s Youth Theatre, Garforth in celebration of their 25th Anniversary.

Promoted by Headingley Rotary Club and hosted in the Great Hall, by the University of Leeds.

Saturday 17th March 2018, finally arrived. Ernest Kirkby and Christopher Walbank were primed ready to host the Lord Mayor, our special guest for the afternoon. Rotary helpers arrived, were given tasks – though always outnumbered by the University’s staff – they were ever-present and ever-helpful! Guests arrived and filed up, early-comers via the coffee shop, the long flight of stairs directly to the Great Hall. Finally, just before 2.30 pm the appointed start, both the Lord Mayor and the promised snow arrived. The first was welcomed and we were just so relieved the second had not come any sooner as no-one present could contemplate the work involved in rearranging (if it would even be possible) the show. “The Show must go on” seemed an apt slogan!

I was one of the last to take my seat – the hall was pretty full, thanks to all the tickets sold to parents and supporters in Garforth via Cally Northam, Headingley Rotarian, Drew Dodds’ daughter and the support from our members. Cally was assistant producer of this show and her daughter, Jess, choreographer. Stephen Archdale directed and produced the show and it was he who had started it 25 years ago with support from the Church in Garforth as an activity for bored youngsters. They did a production, loved it and kept going, many now graduate to careers in the industry!

Ernest gave us all a warm welcome from the stage and then cast, 63 in number aged between 8 and 18 ran onto the stage from the back of the hall – a wonderfully impressive venue. They made such an impact with their black t-shirts (25 on the back with the SMYT logo) and black jeans/leggings. We were transported via a medley of 16 songs or medleys in the first half, 15 in the second, into the wonderful world of theatre and make-believe. I was astounded by the number of soloists (19!) and the fact a few were male! Singing is “cool” again! We had time for a chat in the interval – mainly over the professionalism of the cast – their camaraderie, confidence and obvious enjoyment in their performance – points highlighted brilliantly by Christopher who thanked all those involved and by the Lord Mayor whose tribute to the cast must have made their day.

The club thanks Drew for the suggestion, Ernest, assisted by Christopher, for running with it, the University of Leeds for the use of their venue and provision of refreshments, and of course above all, the leaders and members of SMYT without whom it would not have been possible . The concert made all the work (I had a small involvement via publicity) worthwhile and well over £2,500 was raised on the day. The takings were match-funded by the Kentown Wizard Trust to make a grand total of £5765.12 for Candlelighters plus a well-deserved  £300 for SMYT  for their fantastic performance. A brilliant result!

Ann Lightman

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