What a whirlwind few months it's been for The Wight Strollers - in the best possible way!
Our production of Cinderella was almost sold out, but for a few tickets on the first Saturday night, and the feedback that came in was nothing short of glowing from curtain up to curtain down. Our cast and crew worked their socks off, our audiences were warm and appreciative, and the reviews from Sardines and IW Theatre were fantastic.
As most of you will know, The Wight Strollers give away the proceeds of each show to Island charities and good causes - since 1981, we have raised over £215,000 and we're showing no signs of slowing up!
We gave £2,500 to our main charity for Cinderella, KissyPuppy, who have undertaken their biggest Island project to date, a refurbishment of Oak House costing a total of £1.5million, to which KissyPuppy have pledged £300,000 in support.
"Thank-you so much to all of The Wight Strollers for this donation." said Aaron Rolf upon receiving the cheque. "We've done so much since we started KissyPuppy, but this is our largest project to date. The Mountbatten Hospice is the first adult hospice in the country to take on people under 18, and we want to make sure that continues long into the future."
"Medina House's travel costs are considerably higher than most other schools," said Elisa Jones, a member of the Strollers' committee, who nominated the school as a recipient.
"They need to take hoists and wheelchairs and all sorts of other equipment just to get the enable the children to get to the challenge and compete. This donation is amazing, and it should help them to participate for at least the next couple of years."
£1,000 was given to the Isle of Wight Fire Brigade Benevolent Fund, and representative Kev Ellis sincerely thanked the Strollers and said that the money would go towards the organisation's continuing work to support firefighters both past and present in times of need, whether that need be financial, medical or otherwise.
We also gave £500 to Wild Bird Aid, a charity run by just two people to care for sick and injured birds.
Vicky-Marie Hogan, one of the founders of the charity, attended the AGM to receive the cheque and said: "We rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured birds - last year we took in 1,000 and we currently have 200 in our care, including 25 permanently disabled birds. This charity is run by just the two of us, and this money will get us a good way through the nesting season, so thank-you."
And last, but by no means least, we have donated our seventh Public Access Defibrillator to the Isle of Wight.
This particular defibrillator is set to be sited at St Thomas of Canterbury Primary School following a letter to the company from the parents of one of the pupils there who suffers with a serious heart condition. PADs are so important - defibrillation within the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest can improve a patient's chances of survival from being less than 7% to up to 74%.
Thank-you so much to all the charity representatives who attended our AGM, and thank-you again to everyone who supported Cinderella in any way. It's moments like this that often remind our hard-working team exactly why they do what they do, and why they give so much of their time and talents to ensuring that our shows are a success.
Everything we do is done with our chosen charities for each show in mind. All the hard work that goes into our productions both on and off stage, all the fundraising we do to ensure we can continue to keep our donation levels high even as production costs continue to rise, and every community event we attend from carnivals to school fairs, it's all done so that we can stay true to the ethos of The Wight Strollers: raising as much money for local charities as we can, whilst having as much fun as possible!
With that in mind, prepare for a shameless plug!
We have a Charity Auction coming up this Saturday 28th April at Shorwell Parish Hall, starting at 7pm - entry is by catalogue (£1) and there are over 275 lots, including meal vouchers, entrance passes to Island attractions, promises of cakes and meals made by our members, beauty vouchers, antique furniture, collectible film posters and scripts, gold and silver jewellery and even a date with our very own miniature horse, Hercules!
Viewing is from 5-8pm on Friday 27th, and from 10am-1pm and 6-7pm on Saturday 28th, so you can come and have a look at what's on offer before attending the auction in the evening, where refreshments will be available and the one and only Tim Smith will be banging the gavel!
The auction is to help fundraise towards our summer donation to the chosen charities that will benefit from Priscilla: Queen of the Desert - The Musical.
These are Breakout Youth IW, Break the Cycle CIC, the Wessex Cancer Trust IW Branch and we will also be donating our eighth Public Access Defibrillator.
All worthy causes, so please do make sure you attend the auction, keep an eye out for other fundraising activity and book your tickets for Prsicilla: Queen of the Desert - The Musical by phoning 01983 823884 or by visiting the Medina Theatre website or by popping up to the Box Office in person...we'll see you in Oz!