Wednesday, 22 May 2013

That's all folks

Well, two years after the idea first emerged to create our own Calendar Girls-style charity calendar we have wound up the fund and handed over a final cheque for £2,560.39 to the Midlands Chairman of Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. In total we raised £2649.89, including donations made on our Just Giving page which went straight to the charity.

John Purser kindly travelled down from Coventry to Burton-on-Trent last night to meet as many of the Calendar Girls who could make it and take possession of the cheque.

With us were Little Theatre Company's chairman Peter Clemson and Artistic Director John Bowness - because obviously we could not have done it without them. It was their decision to stage the play Calendar Girl which inspired us to create our own calendar and raise as much as we could for the charity that is fighting to beat all blood cancers. They supported all our publicity efforts and let us launch the calendar at last September's Little Theatre Company Playathon day.

We'd also like to thank our talented photographer and calendar designer Tilley Bancroft and make-up artist Sheelagh Powell who supported us at last summer's photoshoot. Thanks also to Sara of BraSense who supported us with secret underwear during show week!

We would like to thank the people of Burton who gave to our fund so generously. We know times are hard and lots of good causes are competing for donations - so we are grateful for every penny given by the audiences who came to our show week in March 2013 as well as those who bought the calendar.

Thanks to our MP Andrew Griffiths who was quick to ask how he could help and posed for a photo with us when he bought a calendar to hang in his office at the House of Commons.

Thanks to George Gunby who sold our calendars at his Calendar Club stall in Cooper's Square in the run-up to Christmas and Pint Arts Festival who let us have a stall at their craft fair and the Burton town centre management who let us have a stand at the Christmas lights switch on.

Thanks to Sarah Spencer, who was a superbly organised treasurer, and all the other Calendar Girls who played their part in making the project a success and beating our original target of £2,500.

It's been an unforgettable experience.

Monday, 18 March 2013


Well, what a week we had at The Brewhouse in Burton-on-Trent last week.

Virtually every seat was sold for Little Theatre Company's six performances of Tim Firth's play Calendar Girls and the feedback from our audiences was fabulous. They laughed, they cheered, they burst into spontaneous applause and they shed a few tears too - moved by the story of Annie and John Clarke (Matt Bancroft and Vicky Fryer) and Annie's fiesty friend Chris (Heather Ratcliffe).

But there was plenty of comedy too - from the hapless Ruth (Elaine Pritchard) and her doomed efforts to create still life with fir cones and fancy dress for the summer fete, and her mismatched badminton night with WI Chairman Marie (Carol Brown). And who will forget guest speaker Brenda Hulse (Sonja Wardle) and her talk on the history of broccoli, Lady Cravenshire (Sarah Spencer) and her ponderings on the architectural origins of Knapeley Church and of course retired schoolteacher Jessie (Bethan Waite) irate at being asked to arrange flowers for a landowner's wife and her encounter with the excruciatingly patronising beautician (Caitlin Pritchard)?

When it came to "SCENE SIX", the calendar photoshoot itself, the ladies all agreed it was less stressful in the end than managing fast backstage costume changes and remembering a host of props. Single mother and church organist Cora (Vanessa Birch) showed off a tattoo (but it was temporary) and photographer Lawrence (Daniel Tunks) had the audience in stitches as he finally realised Jessie was his old school teacher. Trophy wife Celia (Hannah Mason) stirred him to anger when she moved his carefully arranged composition of buns - leading to one of the most eagerly-anticipated lines each night (sometimes we could hear members of the audience join in with Chris to announce): "We are going to need CONSIDERABLY bigger buns".

The girls got lots of support and help in the photoshoot scene from other members of Knapeley WI - Joyce  Pike, Jodie Durbin, Jane German, Kay St Clair and Dawn White.

Finally to complete the cast we had Liam (Rob Tunley) tasked with shooting a washing powder commercial with the girls, and Rod (Mark Pearson), Chris's long-suffering husband.

But last week was also about us striving to reach our challenging target of raising £2,500 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research - and, WE DID IT!! As I write, the total on our Just Giving Page stands at £2,649.89

It was thanks to a lot of people that we made this impressive total.

...Thanks to all those who donated raffle prizes - including The Mug Tug, in Barton-under-Needwood, who also surprised cast members with specially created, hand-painted jugs at the after-show party!

...Thanks to those who staffed the raffle stall in the Brewhouse bar at each performance selling raffle tickets and taking donations for our calendars and our crochet calendar girls.

...Thanks to the audience members who gave so generously.

...Thanks to Sarah Spencer - who was the Burton Calendar Girls finance chief throughout and sat up after each performance last week counting coins and texting the latest total to the girls.

..Thanks to the cast of the UK touring production of Calendar Girls who donated an autographed calendar and other memorabilia as raffle prizes.

...Thanks, of course, to the uber-talented Tilley Bancroft of Red Door Studios whose vision for the 2013 calendar we shot last summer made it such a beautiful piece of work.

...Thanks to Sara of Bra Sense and make-up artist Sheelagh  Powell who generously gave up time and products.... and all those who sold calendars for us.

There are also many, many thank you's associated with the play itself:

  • Our amazing director John Bowness 
  • Soundtrack supremo Peter Clemson
  • The hard-working set crew who built Knapeley Village Hall for us
  • Musical director Jack Hawkins
  • Karen Hailstone for continuity
  • Ben Yeomans for lighting
  • Katie Haywood - and the cast - for props
  • Geoff Thompson for photography
  • The BADAC volunteers who staffed the bar each night
  • Janet Plummer and Pam Anderson for selling programmes and staffing the coffee bar
  • Little Theatre Company's private and corporate patrons - who help make our productions possible
  • Brewhouse box office staff who stayed calm under a deluge of phone calls trying to get last minute tickets.
  • The Burton Mail for pre-show publicity.

So, the adventure is finally over. Thank you for following our blog. Our JustGiving Page will stay open until the end of March 2013 to enable any late donations to be gathered in and then we'll be organising the handover of the money to the charity which is fighting so hard to cure blood cancers.

Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research has always been associated with the play since the real life calendar girls of  Yorkshire began fundraising for a settee for their local cancer ward following the death of the real John Clarke. Who could have imagined where that decision was going to lead?

Although there's such an important and serious point to the fund raising we have had so many laughs along the way with our photoshoot and last week's shows. I hope we brought a little sunshine into your life too.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Curtain up on Calendar Girls in Burton

Tonight is opening night of Little Theatre Company's production of Calendar Girls - and among the break-a-leg messages is a special one from Tim Firth who wrote the play.

You may remember we told you about Bethan Waite (who plays retired school teacher Jessie in our production) meeting Tim last October at the Frodsham Literature Festival - if you want a reminder of that story - CLICK HERE.

Well, today he's sent us a message via a mutual friend to say: "I hope they have a great week. Tell them to let me know via my website if they have time!"

So, despite last minute nerves, the girls will be stepping out bravely with a spring in their step at The Brewhouse in Burton-on-Trent.

Pictured above: left to right: Hannah Mason as Celia, Vanessa Birch as Cora, Heather Ratcliffe as Chris, Bethan Waite as Jessie and Elaine Pritchard as Ruth.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Set up Sunday for Burton Calendar Girls

It may be Mother's Day today - but lots of the LTC ladies were only too happy to come in to The Brewhouse at Burton-on-Trent and share the excitement of creating our beautiful set and organising costumes and props for our production of Calendar Girls which runs from March 12-16.

Many hands made light work of it and most of us had a few hours off this afternoon before returning tonight for the first dress rehearsal.

Here's a shot looking down from the auditorium seats as the home of the fictional Knapeley Womens' Institute took shape on the stage.

Cora's piano is wheeled into position.

Ruth's marmalade table takes shape.

John's sunflowers really DO look lovely

Adjustments are made to the famous buns by director John

We've also been collecting some great prizes for the raffles. There will be a separate raffle at every performance with hosts of prizes including some lovely Victorian porcelain dolls, some cheeky crocheted Calendar Girl dolls and a series of vouchers offering a free 'paint-a-pot' experience for two people courtesy of Little Theatre Company patron Lesley of The Mug Tug at Barton-under-Needwood.

All the proceeds from the nightly raffle will boost our fundraising total for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

Show-goers will also be able to collect a souvenir edition of our 2013 calendar in return for a donation to the fund.

Tickets have sold really well for our show, but there are some single seats left if you want to catch this heart-warming story. Ring the Brewhouse box office on 01283 508100 to check availability.


Two years after John told us we would be doing the play Calendar Girls - if we were 'up for it' - which led us to decide to start our own fundraising drive for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research ..... SHOW WEEK IS FINALLY HERE!!

Today we'll be at our venue, The Brewhouse, Union Street, Burton-on-Trent, organising props and dressing the set ahead of a first dress rehearsal tonight.

So, there's not much time to stay on here and blog - but I'll be back later to tell you more and maybe share some pictures of the final preparations.

Also watch out for updates and images on our Twitter feed -

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Two weeks to opening night of Calendar Girls in Burton-on-Trent

So, it's now just over two weeks until opening night of our production of Calendar Girls at The Brewhouse in Burton-on-Trent.

But it's two YEARS since we first heard that we would be staging the comedy play and came up with the idea of fundraising for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research through our own charity calendar.

This week our publicity drive got a welcome boost with a story in the Burton Mail which reminded people that there will be a raffle every night of the show's run to boost our fund raising total which currently stands at £1,386.

Among the items we will be raffling off are copies of the signed good luck messages we received from the cast of the UK touring production of Calendar Girls - including Ruth Madoc, Sue Holderness, Lesley Joseph, Kacey Ainsworth, Helen Fraser, Camilla Dallerup and many more.

Then there will also be our infamous crocheted calendar girl dolls - though if anyone wants to put in a bid to buy one of them for charity we might consider it! Our challenging target is to raise £2,500 by the end of March 2013 - and we would LOVE to make it.

Tickets for the play - which runs from March 12-March 16 - are going fast with some shows already sold out. Latest news on ticket availability can be obtained by telephoning the Brewhouse Box Office on 01283-508100. But if you are too late to get a ticket you can still pop down to the Brewhouse any night of the show and enjoy a drink at the bar and buy a raffle ticket or make a donation. Each day there will be a different raffle with winning tickets drawn during the second half of the show. Copies of our calendar - sure to be a collectors' item in future years! - can also still be acquired in return for a donation.

Thanks to the friends of LTC and the members of LTC Youth who have volunteered to sell raffle tickets in the bar each night and at the Saturday 2.30pm matinee.

If you would like to support our efforts but can't get to the Brewhouse during show week you can still donate at the Burton Calendar Girls Just Giving page

Every penny will make a difference in these last few weeks so please spread the word about us on social media - help us get more fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Thank you Brasense for your support!

As rehearsals continue for our March production of Calendar Girls, the members of the cast who need to strip off for the crucial (and hilarious) scene where the charity calendar is photographed are thinking about eating salads, exercising - and underwear.

Sara, of Brasense, can't help us with the first two - but she has provided the six main characters with some super, nude, almost invisible undies. And we are very grateful.

It's a very important part of the show that no-one in the audience actually sees anything they really shouldn't. We're determined to avoid the 'wardrobe malfunctions' that it seems other amateur theatre groups have suffered around the UK.

As the name suggests, Brasense is a company that specialises in ensuring that women achieve a perfect fit from their bras. But in this case she has sourced some knickers that are like the ones worn by glamour models - and we feel very glamorous as a result.

If you think you could be among many, many women across the UK wearing a bra that's not really comfortable and doesn't give you the shape and support you really need, have a look at the Brasense website - - and read about the service they can offer.

Brasense is based in Measham, Derbyshire - and we're also happy to welcome them as a Corporate Patron of Little Theatre Company.