Ashwren Players

Panto supports local charities

On a wind-swept, rainy village hall car park, local drama group, Ashwren Players, meet the two charities who will benefit from their donations.

Ashwren, formed from residents of Ashwellthorpe, Wreningham and Mulbarton, performed their annual pantomime in February.  This year’s show was Treasure Island, written and directed by local businessman and South Norfolk Councillor Bob McClenning.  As usual, takings raised from raffles held at each performance were dedicated to a charity nominated and chosen by cast and crew.  In the expert hands of Johnny Thurston (known locally as Johnny Numbers), £250 was raised over 3 performances which was matched by takings from ticket sales.

PantoTruckers3-bigThe chosen charities this year were East Coast Truckers and Star Throwers.  In an evening of information, fun, tugged heartstrings and celebration, both charities were invited to present their aims and objectives and receive their donations from Ashwren.
The evening started with a photo session and the opportunity to climb aboard the 3 trucks brought along by drivers and other representatives of East Coast Truckers.  This was followed by a presentation by Ivan Hardy of a film showing one of their famous Childrens’ Convoys taking children with special needs from Norwich to Pleasurewood Hills, then on to the Great Yarmouth sea front before returning to Norwich.

This event has become so famous that applications come from around the World and restrictions have to be made to children from East Anglia.

Val Keel, Ashwren’s Chairman paid tribute to the hard work in organising such an event and massive logistical considerations required when organising an event where special needs are so varied.  She recalled the same issues when organising air flights for adults and children with special needs funded by the Peter Keel Memorial Fund set up following the death of her husband 20 years ago, then Marketing Director for Eastern Counties Newspapers, in a flying accident.  “Whilst there is a lot of hard work involved, the rewards are great and all volunteer pilots took so much pleasure from seeing the excitement generated in their passengers,” Val said.

She then introduced Anthony Perry of Star Throwers who explained how this local charity, staffed by volunteers and based in Wymondham, provides counselling and emotional support, together with complementary therapies and advice to produce a positive sense of wellbeing  for cancer sufferers.  Anthony invited anyone present to visit the centre to see more fully how they operate.

Each charity was then presented with a cheque for £250 followed by a party for all present.