Raising laughs and loot through virtual comedy night

Raising laughs and loot through virtual comedy night

A virtual night of comedy raised much-needed laughs – and £1,500 for a Birmingham charity.

The gig marked the return of charity stand-up events organised by Comedy at Work creatives Anne Docherty from Kenilworth and Mark Hinds from Warwick.

Comedy at Work, Networkfour, Lodders Charitable Foundation, Laura Lexx, Scott Bennett, Samantha Day, David Eagle, Anne Docherty, Mark Hinds, Proceeds from the virtual gig, supported by Lodders Charitable Foundation, will support Birmingham-based charity Networkfour which, for the last 13 years, has worked to shine a light on the issues of poverty, hardship and lives negatively impacted by criminality.

Networkfour Founder and Project Director Gary Wicker, said: “‘It was a fantastic evening and we are so grateful for the support from Lodders Charitable Foundation and Comedy at Work to make it possible, and to everyone who bought tickets.

“We work with over 500 vulnerable children, at risk young people, hard to reach adults and crisis families each year, many of whom face horrendous situations and circumstances. They money raised will go a long way to enabling us to change the lives to the most vulnerable in Birmingham.

Helping to lay on the virtual laughs, on April Fool’s Day were four comedians who are rising stars on the UK comedy circuit.

Award-winning Laura Lexx, from Taunton, is best known for her TV comedy appearances including Live At The Apollo and Mock The Week. She also hit the headlines last year when she landed a book deal following a series of tweets imagining life with Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp which went viral.

Yorkshireman Scott Bennet has won acclaim with comedy awards and has appeared on BBC Radio 4 as well as alongside the likes of Rob Brydon, Michael McIntyre and Helen Lederer.

New comedian of the Year at Leicester Square Theatre and Bath Comedy Festival in 2019, David Eagle is also an accomplished musician. The blind funnyman from Stockton instantly wins audiences over with his quip about having ‘dark humour.’

Overseeing it all was Samantha Day, from Watford. The former accountant-turned stand-up comedian, reached the semi-finals of Jason Manford’s Best New Act 2020 just before lockdown as well as making it through to the semi-finals of the Best New Act at Bath Comedy Festival in 2019.

Law firm Lodders created the Lodders Charitable Foundation (LCF) in 2016 with the aim of raising vital financial support and providing help to local charities where it can make a genuine difference. Networkfour is one of four independent charities chosen as sole beneficiaries of LCF in 2021 and 2022.

Chairman of Lodders Charitable Foundation, David Lodder said: “We are living through pretty difficult times, but the Virtual Comedy Night was an excellent event that brought plenty of fun, laughter and some light relief into people’s homes.

“The Foundation knows Networkfour will make excellent use of the proceeds to support its incredible work with young people, adults and families in crisis who are sadly facing issues of poverty, hardship and lives negatively impacted by criminality. The charity’s dedicated team and volunteers carry out amazing and vital work and always strive to help transform the circumstances some people sadly find themselves in.”
For more information about The Lodders Charitable Foundation visit: www.lodders.co.uk/about-us/lodders-charitable-foundation

Comedy at Work, Networkfour, Lodders Charitable Foundation, Laura Lexx, Scott Bennett, Samantha Day, David Eagle, Anne Docherty, Mark Hinds,
Comedy at Work co-founders Anne Docherty and Mark Hinds. Photo by David Fawbert Photography.

Anne Docherty, co-founder of Comedy at Work, said: “We had an awesome night of comedy – thanks to everyone that bought tickets and came along and to the comedians who had us all laughing throughout. We raised £1,500 for Networkfour and because this event was supported by the Lodders Charitable Foundation every penny raised goes to the charity. It was a privilege to be involved.”

As well as bringing stand-up to venues across the country in support of local charities, Comedy at Work hosts a series of workshops for all ages, all with comedy and wellbeing at their heart – from school-leavers and graduates through to team building, corporate training and even wedding speech coaching.

During lockdown they successfully transitioned their workshops online but have already seen a huge demand for tickets for the first of their returning face to face comedy nights in village halls across the region, from next month.

Visit: https://www.comedyatwork.com/ for further information.

More information about Networkfour can be found at: https://www.networkfour.org.uk/

Popular town centre pub announces reopening

Popular town centre pub announces reopening

The Rose & Crown in Warwick is among those pubs ready and waiting to open its doors again on Monday (12th April), to welcome guests back to its lovely outside space and ensure they have a fantastic time.

The popular town centre pub will be back with a delicious new menu for spring, with an exciting choice of seasonal dishes for lunch and dinner and everything in between.  There will also be new arrivals on the drinks list including cocktails, gins and soft drinks, with plenty of options also returning.

The Rose and CrownThe entire team at The Rose & Crown has thrown themselves into getting the pub ship-shape for opening after the long months of lockdown and is looking forward to having groups of up to six people from any number of households, or groups of two households, in its outdoor space.

So that the celebrations can continue in style, the pub has extended its outside area by taking over the four car parking spaces at the front and giving them a colourful al fresco eating and drinking look.

Smart wooden tables and bright red chairs have been set up with big umbrellas decorated with pretty fairy lights and plenty of candles.  The entire space is heated and there are fleecy blankets to snuggle under and piles of cushions to sink into.  The really good news is that these spots get the benefit of eight full hours of sunshine a day, whenever the sun is out!

Meanwhile, right in front of the pub there are more spots to sit and nurse a pint of real ale or sip on a glass of something chilled, again with parasols and heating.  In the evening, you can see and be seen in the down-lights illuminating the pub as you watch the world go by.

Fresh from the kitchen will be some mouth-watering new dishes. Enjoy mains of miso-glazed cod with black rice, choy sum, lime, chilli and coriander or a Merrifield duck breast with braised chicory and Delmonico potatoes, orange and green peppercorn jus. Meat-free options include Dirty Vegan burger with Marmite onions, smoked cheese, tomato relish and fries. The pub does a great breakfast too, with everything from a classic full English to piles of fluffy American pancakes, so why not pop in for morning coffee and a midweek treat to start your day?

For sharing over a drink, The Rose & Crown does a fabulous selection of deli plates, with great British charcuterie from Dorset.  All the pub’s cheeses are British, from Somerset Camembert to Rutland Red, and there’s British beef, vegetables and fruit, and free-range pork and chicken on the menu too.

As well as being able to order food and drink from one of the team, you can also get your glass topped up and have something tasty to eat by ordering on your mobile. Look out for the cards in the pub which explain it all.  And if you want it to go, the pub can rustle up takeaway breakfast, coffee, sandwiches, Sunday roasts and more.  Simply go to the website to place your order.

The Rose and Crown, Warwick, Peach PubsRose & Crown General Manager Tash Beard and her team will be on hand to welcome guests back to the pub and ensure everyone is safe when they visit.  She says: “We have been working really hard to be ready for the big day when we can finally open our doors again and we literally can’t wait! We’ve all missed being able to do what we love the most – looking after our guests and serving them plenty of the good stuff.

“The changes we have made at the pub mean we’ll be able to do just that and do it really well.  We’ve created the ideal setting for people to celebrate getting back together again.  Our extended outside area is bright and welcoming and perfect for meeting friends for a drink, having coffee or cocktails, or a cracking Sunday lunch that you haven’t had to cook yourself.  And there’s no need to chase the sun, so fingers crossed we see plenty of it!  We’re counting the days until we can welcome guests back to the pub and hear the sound of them chatting, laughing and clinking glasses across Market Place!” she says.

The Rose & Crown is now taking bookings outdoors from Monday 12th April, for groups of up to six, or up to two households. Visit: http://www.roseandcrownwarwick.co.uk/ to book.

The pub will be open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 11pm and on Sunday from 9am to 10pm. Food is served from 9am to 9pm on Monday to Saturday and from 9am to 8pm on Sunday.

If you can’t wait until April 12th, you can still enjoy some of your favourite Rose & Crown dishes by treating yourself to a Peach at Home box, now available nationwide.  Starters, mains, sides and puds are all masterfully prepared and ready for you to finish in your own kitchen. Just the ticket if you’re celebrating, in need of a break from cooking, looking for a gift or simply want to have our great food at home. https://www.makinglifepeachy.com/peach-at-home/

The Rose & Crown is at 30 Market Place, Warwick CV34 4SH.  www.roseandcrownwarwick.co.uk

Full details of the steps taken to keep the pub safe for guests and the team can be viewed here

http://www.roseandcrownwarwick.co.uk/your-visit/

Egg-straordinary effort to spread cheer this Easter

Egg-straordinary effort to spread cheer this Easter

A WARWICK charity is helping to bring some seasonal cheer to poorly children over the Easter period.

Molly Olly’s Wishes has been busy delivering more than 300 chocolate eggs and teddies to community nurses and volunteers at South Warwickshire Foundation Trust Community Children’s Nursing Team for distribution to children across the area.

The eggs haul comes courtesy of Warwickshire Freemasons and staff at international automotive manufacturing company Grupo Antolin, which has local sites in Warwick and Coventry.

Molly Olly's Wishes, Rachel Ollerenshaw, Warwickshire Freemasons, Easter eggs
Peter Hall and Rachel Ollerenshaw with Olly The Brave and eggs.

Molly Olly’s Wishes was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.

The charity works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families and help with their emotional wellbeing as well as grant wishes and donate therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.

Mascot of the charity is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave who has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly The Brave pack that has now been handed out to more than 40 hospitals, along with a book from the charity’s exclusive Olly The Brave series.

Part of more than £2.5m raised to date, has also been used to fund the first Molly Olly consultant in paediatric medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “Molly Olly’s are very grateful to both Grupo Antolin and Peter Manning and the members of the Warwickshire Freemasons for all the eggs and teddies that they have very kindly donated. It gives us all a lot of pleasure to see the big smiles when the eggs are delivered.

“Simple gifts can lift children’s spirits when they are facing very challenging circumstances and it lets them know that people are thinking about them. This is an initiative that the charity have done for many years and both the nurses and families are very grateful to receive them.”

The Warwickshire Freemasons, which have presented a total of £150,000 to local charities throughout the pandemic, have now also donated more than 3,500 eggs to, among others, Acorns Hospice, Warwick Refuge, Shipston Food Bank, The Salvation Army and Coventry Haven.

Peter Manning, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, said: “Molly Olly’s a super local charity that does a tremendous amount of good and because they run it themselves and have very few overheads, you know that all the money goes where you want it to go.

“We would like to say a big thank you to Morrison’s Store at the Alvis Retail Park in Coventry who provided the eggs at a very special discounted rate and who are therefore helping to make a huge difference to these children.”

Further information about Molly Olly’s Wishes or how to donate can be found at: www.mollyolly.co.uk

Belgrade Theatre to reopen its doors on May 17th

Belgrade Theatre to reopen its doors on May 17th

The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – the UK City of Culture for 2021 – is to reopen its doors to the public on 17th May – the first day that the government’s roadmap allows – with socially distanced audiences able to enjoy Joe Pasquale and Sarah Earnshaw in John Godber’s April in Paris, which kicks off its UK tour at the Belgrade.

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Those first audience members through the doors will also be able to enjoy the brand-new upstairs Café Bar Nineteen58 and newly refurbished downstairs Belgrade Café which has been created in the building as part of the £5.5m 2020 Redevelopment Project for the theatre; as well as the enhanced food and beverage offering, this has provided new spaces for audiences, visitors and additional capacity for workshops and community groups.

Prior to this, from 12th April, The Belgrade Café will be offering a full range of locally sourced food and drink for patrons to takeaway and enjoy on tables outside the theatre on Belgrade Square. The refurbishment was inspired by and named after the theatre’s founding year and is decorated with vintage show posters and artwork from across the decades.

Above and right: The new-look cafe (Artist’s impression by Corstorphine + Wright Architects)

Coventry, Belgrade Theatre, cafeThe Belgrade is Coventry’s largest professional theatre, producing and presenting a diverse range of shows, events and ground-breaking community and education initiatives. In its landmark building, across the region, the UK and online, it uses theatre to entertain, inspire, share the city’s stories, uncover hidden histories, and unleash the creativity of diverse communities.

Joanna Reid, Executive Director of the Belgrade, said, “The whole team can’t wait to reopen on 17 May and to welcome shows and audiences back into our two auditoria as soon as possible.  We are delighted that we are launching a tour of APRIL IN PARIS on Monday 17 May and are continuing to work to secure more shows during May to August. We’re excited that we’ve been able to complete our 2020 Redevelopment in time for City of Culture despite the challenges posed by both the pandemic and Brexit.  We hope to see you back at the Belgrade soon!

Following April in Paris, the Belgrade continues to book in performances at short notice and audiences will be able to enjoy an eclectic mix of music, theatre and comedy  over the summer months The theatre’s digital offerings also continue: Jabala and the Jinn, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Private Peaceful and the MT Festival UK will stream at various times between the end of March and the beginning of June.

The UK Asian Film Festival will also be hosted at the venue, with socially distanced audiences watching five film premieres in the Belgrade’s B2 auditorium, including the world premiere of Beatles and India. These films have been selected by five Coventry locals, after training in film curation. The UK Asian Film Festival celebrates the art of storytelling extending from ancient oral traditions to tales told in today’s digital age, giving wings to South Asian roots since 1997. This year’s programming theme is Ray of Hope to mark the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray. The film choices reflect the shift in power that bring hope to the lives of the protagonists. Further details to be announced.

An autumn season of non-socially distanced work from 1 September will be announced on 1st June.

A key partner of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, the Belgrade Theatre’s 2021 programme is being delivered by three diverse artists under the role of Co-Artistic Directors alongside members of the local community.  Corey Campbell, Balisha Karra and Justine Themen are developing a new vision and way of working for a 21st Century Theatre, bringing with them a unique perspective that celebrates the City’s diversity and drives positive change.

As well as directing the City of Culture opening event, Coventry Moves, Justine Themen has commissioned a brand-new digital version of Like There’s No Tomorrow (Weds 19 May – Sun 13 June 2021), one of the first National Theatre Connections plays to be specifically commissioned for and created by young people. Originally devised by Belgrade Youth Theatre in March 2020, in 2021 it will amplify the voices of Coventry’s young people and their views on climate change, across the country. The Belgrade will also be hosting the region’s NT Connections Festival this summer, showcasing work by local youth theatres across the West Midlands.

The new Roundabout pop-up theatre

Another cornerstone of the City of Culture programme, The Belgrade will co-present with Paines Plough, a festival of new world-class plays and community-led activities in the world’s first plug-in, pop-up and play theatre Roundabout (Monday 26 July – Sunday 8 August 2021). Balisha Karra will direct Coventry based playwright Frankie Meredith’s May Queen, and the other plays that will be played in repertory throughout the festival are Hungry by Chris Bush, Really Big and Really Loud by Phoebe Eclair-Powell, Black Love by Chinonyerem Odimba, with music by Ben and Max Ringham.

Belgrade Theatre, Seaview, Coventry
A scene from Seaview

Filming has also begun on SeaView, an original digital series developed by Strictly Arts Theatre Company and Belgrade Film and Digital Ltd using theatre techniques, conceived before Covid-19 took the world of theatre online, and directed by Corey Campbell. Inspired by a true story, and lived experiences, SeaView is a supernatural drama centred on urban, working class communities in the Midlands. It follows the story of Steven, a high-flying university student who appears to have a bright future ahead of him… Release dates and further information to be announced shortly.

Whilst – as with so many theatres across the country during 2020– The Belgrade wasn’t able to present live work on stage during much of the year, the whole team worked hard to keep engaging with local audiences and communities. The theatre rapidly adapted to making its offerings digital, including taking their annual pantomime online – Jack and the Beanstalk was watched by 55,600 people in the UK and in 25 countries across the world. The team behind the theatre’s renowned participation programme Click Spring also continued to offer workshops, Summer School and Acting Classes over Zoom. They also kept engaging with audiences on social media, including Facebook pub quizzes and online play-reading groups, and created podcasts, education packs and Spotify musical theatre playlists.

Councillor David Welsh, from Coventry City Council, said, ““There has been so much work happening throughout the Covid outbreak to improve facilities at the Belgrade Theatre and I am really pleased that they can now take the first tentative steps by announcing what future productions they will be able to host. I want to thank all those involved for the hard work they have put into getting the Belgrade Theatre ready, and I wish the theatre every success.”

Restaurateur marks Covid anniversary with Local Legends campaign

Restaurateur marks Covid anniversary with Local Legends campaign

TO MARK a year since the first lockdown, a Leamington restaurateur wants to say a special thank you to local unsung heroes who have made a positive difference in their community.

Through his new Local Legends Campaign, Jose Ribeiro, of We Love Pizza, aims to reward six people who live or work in the Warwickshire, area, with a feast of pizza.

Between May and October, each winner will be presented with a WLP voucher for £120 to be used throughout the following month.

It might be someone who has gone that extra mile to help their isolated neighbours, launched an initiative to help emergency workers or made a huge difference to an individual’s life by a simple – but significant – act of kindness.

Jose, whose restaurant has been closed more than open since it launched in September last year, wants to give something back to the community that has supported his business throughout those months.

He said: “We are so grateful for the kindness and support that’s been shown at such difficult times, both to everyone in general and the hospitality industry.

“We are passionate about celebrating our local legends and highlighting the kindness, courage, humanity or ingenuity they have shown during the Coronavirus pandemic. These are core values that are very close to our brand and ethos and we hope will make us better as a society for the future.”

We Love Pizza, Local Legends
Detroit Pizza is available from WLP from mid-April.

The Local Legends Campaign also marks the launch, next month, of the latest addition to We Love Pizza’s handcrafted Detroit style pizza line – as they bring Detroit to Leamington.

A recipe that’s been popular in the Motor City of America since 1946, Detroit style pizza is made from a traditional thick, light and airy Sicilian style dough.

 The key ingredient in a proper Detroit-style pizza, however, isn’t the ingredients – but rather the pan itself! The characteristics of the square pizza – soft and airy square crust, crunchy exterior and caramelised cheese – are due to the thick steel deep pans in which they are baked. These pans were originally used to transport parts on the car assembly lines – and have been specially imported to the restaurant from the States for a truly authentic Detroit pizza experience.

Jose Ribeiro hands over some of the many pizzas during his latest delivery to Monique Khaira, a volunteer at the Helping Hands soup kitchen.
We Love Pizza co-owner Jose Ribeiro.

Jose said: “We are always on the hunt here in Leamington, for the best pizzas in the world, and take pride in bringing innovation to the market.

 “Countless hours were spent testing and perfecting every detail here to create our take on Detroit-Style pizza. The caramelised cheese crust and the sauce on top take the taste to the next level.”

He added: “We also pride ourselves on delivering ‘affordable quality’ to customers by using only the best and most nutritious flour combinations and implementing exact temperature control and longer fermentation periods for the sourdough.

“While perfection is impossible, great things can happen if you pursue it with passion. It’s that constant ‘quest for perfection’ that is the essence of We Love Pizza.”

The restaurant, which hopes to reopen on May 17th, is still offering a delivery and click and collect service seven days week from 12 midday to 10pm. Orders can be made via a click and collect app, downloadable from the We Love Pizza website or for delivery (£1.50 for orders over £15.) There is also a £10 discount on all orders over £25 from first-time customers.

To nominate a We Love Pizza Local Legend, just tell us their name, email address and where they live and, in no more than 200 words, why you believe they deserve to win. Please also send a photo of them if possible, although this is not essential.

Send it to: amanda@chalmersnewspr.co.uk by Friday, April 23rd. including Local Legends in the subject line.

Visit We Love Pizza at: www.welovepizza.uk

Terms and Conditions: The Local Legends campaign is open to anyone who lives or works in the Warwickshire area. Each winner will be entitled to one £30 voucher per week throughout their chosen month, totalling £120 for the month. The prize cannot be exchanged for its cash value and no correspondence can be entered into. Each voucher can be redeemed for eat-in or takeaway up to the value of £30 a week towards the total spend on anything from the menu but cannot be carried over. Booking is subject to availability. We Love Pizza cannot be held responsible for any future closures due to further COVID-19 restrictions in 2021.