Virtual classical concerts

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With the cancellation of live music events there are still plenty of ways to get your musical fix, from organisations far and wide who are using online platforms to share their work.

Local music charity Grayshott Concerts has been putting on shows at St Luke’s, Grayshott, for fifteen years. Starring world-class performers from the world of classical music including Sir Karl Jenkins, Howard Shelley, Nicola Benedetti and more, they already had a packed programme lined up for 2020.

Founder Peter Harrison has some suggestions for his favourites:

Grayshott Concerts’ patron Karl Jenkins has joined forces with the 10,000-strong Stay at Home Choir to undertake an ambitious ten-week project bringing together voices from lockdown to perform highlights of The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace, to mark its 20th anniversary.

The orchestra-in-residence, the London Mozart Players has created a whole series of videos under the banner At Home with LMP featuring Mozart Mondays, Chamber Tuesdays, Thursday Thoughts, Family Fridays and Saturday Sessions. They’ve even created some personalised messages just for Grayshott fans.

www.grayshottconcerts.co.uk / www.londonmozartplayers.com/athome/

Choir-in-residence Excelsis Choir have taken their rehearsals online and are now Zooming regularly. A number of virtual choirs have also sprung up – music therapy charity Nordoff Robins welcomes singers of all backgrounds and abilities for a weekly sing-a-long on Tuesdays at 4pm. www.nordoff-robbins.org.uk/online-choir/

The London Symphony Orchestra has a digital programme including twice-weekly full-length concerts, playlists and activities to keep younger music fans busy. They also have a YouTube channel packed with more than 500 videos. www.lso.co.uk

The BBC has created ‘Culture in Quarantine’ to bring arts and culture into your home, both from the archives and fresh content from newly-formed groups like the BBC Lockdown Orchestra  https://www.bbc.co.uk/arts

Several past performers are doing sterling work on their own social media channels, including the singing schoolboy Cai Thomas, from Farnham. Making the most of Facebook and Twitter, Grayshott Concerts has also established its own new fortnightly e-news which currently goes out to over 1,600 subscribers.

Hailed as “an excellent way to keep connected” and “really enjoyable and insightful” by readers, the mailers combine current news from the classical music world along with retrospectives of past concerts in anticipation of the time when we will once again be able to bring world-class music to Grayshott and the surrounding area.

Salute our Forces

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Our Armed Forces are something for us to be proud of at any time as they work to keep us safe and now they are helping to fight coronavirus

Armed Forces Day on Saturday, 27th June, is the chance to show your support for those who make up the Armed Forces community whether they are serving troops, their families, veterans or cadets.

There are many ways to get involved and show your support and while this year things are very different due the current restrictions, it’s important to acknowledge the part our Armed Forces are playing in the fight against coronavirus.

The national celebration in Scarborough has been cancelled as have the local parades and tributes but that doesn’t mean you can’t still say thank you.

#SaluteOurForces is a simple way for anyone to pay tribute to the British Armed Forces for their hard work, dedication and efforts to and keep everyone safe in the UK and across the world. Send a photo or video of yourself or your friends and colleagues saluting, find out how to do it properly at https://www.armedforcesday.org.uk/get-involved/saluteourforces/ – did you know the Royal Navy salute differently to the Royal Air Force and the British Army?

Show your support for our Armed Forces and help provide a much-needed morale boost as they work not only to defend the UK and its interests around the world but at the moment through the Covid Support Force.

As part of their work in the fight against the coronavirus, the Armed Forces have helped with the building of the new hospitals, providing test centres, delivering vital PPE and ventilators and working with the ambulance service.

Find out more

Show your support, visit

Wallingford vehicle rally

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The popular annual Wallingford Vehicle Rally & Parade has been cancelled this year but the organisers are keeping their fingers crossed for a ‘mini lockdown parade’ on August 2nd.

They say: “We are currently in negotiations to hold a short driving tour around the area on Sunday 2nd August for all those purchased any ticket for this year’s event.

“We are currently working on a route that won’t cause disruption to the usual traffic and will contact everyone via email very soon with details.”

It will be free of charge, but they ask you make a small donation in the collection buckets on the day or via the crowd funder link that will be set up nearer the time so we can then share this with the local charitable causes who usually benefit and are struggling for funding during these trying times.

Organisers added: “Thank you for your patience, we are disappointed we are unable to hold the event this year but the health of participants, traders, staff and general public have to be our prime concern. Stay safe and we will be in touch with ticket holders this week and please keep an eye on our social media for updates for Sunday 2nd August 2020 mini lockdown parade.”

Info

All those who purchased tickets for the 2020 event can either request a refund (follow the link on your ticket confirmation) or your purchase will be valid for the 2021 event which will be held on Sunday, 9th May 2021. If they don’t hear from you, they will simply send you information and wrist bands in April for the event.

Mini plays in response to Covid-19

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Four Reading writers have penned mini audio plays about their town and their relationship to home in these challenging times.

Reading Rep has partnered with the UK’s leading new writing company Paines Plough to commission the work.

The plays, part of the project called Come to Where I Am, are available free online and, in a first, people who may find it difficult or even impossible to access digital content can hear the plays over the phone. Prospect Park Hospital which treats mental health and Purley Park Trust patients with learning disabilities will receive the free telephone and online readings.

Links to the plays will also be available www.readingrep.com.

The Reading writers are:

•Sam Butler, co-artistic director of Fevered Sleep which works across artforms making performance, installation, books, films and digital art.

•Camile Ucan, a comedy writer-performer and one third of comedy sketch group Birthday Girls whose podcast Birthday Girls’ House Party is available on BBC Sounds now. She has an extensive body of work in TV, film and theatre.

•Ali Taylor, an award-winning playwright and teacher who has created work for stage and radio.

•Adrian Tang, Artistic Director of Exit Pursued By Panda, a theatre company promoting the interests of East Asian writers, directors, actors and other creatives.

Reading Rep founder and artistic director Paul Stacey says: “We have loved collaborating with Paines Plough to create this unique project and it joins the educational outreach work we have been undertaking since theatres shut and Britain went into lockdown.

“The plays also allow isolated audience groups to access on-demand culture.

“We are also excited that we will host live performances of the plays when we begin our first season next year at our new theatre on King’s Road which is currently being built. We have plans that will incorporate social distancing if this is still the guidance by then.

“Meanwhile, please have a listen to the plays and learn more about what Reading means as home to all of us. We have all spent so much time in our home town for the last few months that it makes them especially poignant.”

Actors including David Bradley, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Lisa Hammond and Sally Dynevor will read the plays over the phone for isolated audiences. In total, 30 short plays are being commissioned.

More info

Links to the plays will also be available at…

Hurst Show & Country Fayre

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Hurst Show and Country Fayre are championing ‘the show must go on’ ethos by holding their first ever virtual show.

The traditional event has had to be cancelled but the hope is its virtual equivalent will still be able to raise much-needed funds for local good causes including Alexander Devine Hospice and Just Around the Corner, as well as St Nicholas CofE Primary school, Pre-school, Scouts and Guides.

Chairperson Suzy Turner said: “We are very conscious that now more than ever, local good causes are struggling for funding. Last year the Show was able to donate over £15,000 funding so as a committee, we wanted to do something towards raising an equivalent amount.

“We have been able to kick off the fundraising effort with a £5,000 donation from show funds, and are hoping to make up the £10,000 shortfall through the virtual show. We also hope that the virtual show enables people to have some fun and celebrate the fantastic community spirit that has been shown during lockdown.”

People from all over the area are invited to take part in a calendar of online and socially distanced events all over June, culminating in what would have been the show weekend, June 27th and 28th. These include:

· Hobbyhorse Competition – households are encouraged to make and display their own hobbyhorses, with online voting and the overall winner judged by BBC sports presenter, Mike Bushell

· Virtual Classic Vehicle and Dog Shows – enter your ‘pride and joy’, whether it has wheels or a waggy tail, into the competition on Facebook and encourage friends to vote for your entry

· Virtual Market – an opportunity to browse the online shops of the stallholders who regularly support the show

· Village Souvenir Magazine – a magazine kindly produced by Alexis Jaworski Photography capturing photographs and memories of community spirit. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

Over the show weekend itself, a timetable of interactive events from Hurst Show favourites will take place on Facebook, including sing-a-longs with Ukuladies Plus One and virtual sessions with Wokingham charity, Just Around the Corner.

Around the village, there will be displays of art and the popular church bookstall will be set up. Visitors are reminded to observe social distancing measures while enjoying these.

Take-away options will be provided by Hurst caterers, The Castle Inn pub and Vintage Hog Roast, with an ice-cream van also scheduled to stop around the village over the weekend.

There will even be an online disco on the Saturday night provided by local DJ, Thames Valley Discos.

More info

The majority of these events are free to participate, but donations towards the show are kindly requested. These can be made at any time by visiting www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/hurst-show.

For the latest details of what’s on, or to get involved as a sponsor or stallholder, please follow the Hurst Show on Facebook page, Twitter and/or Instagram, or visit

Wind in the Willows

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Join Mr Toad, Ratty, Mole and Badger in GSC’s online Wind in the Willows

Motor-cars, boats and the battle for Toad Hall are all re-imagined in this unique live performance in which the award-winning GSC have joined forces with the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford and Jermyn Street Theatre, London, to bring their 2015 adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic to online audiences. The production will run from June 4th to 7th.

GSC first staged the story in June 2015 amidst the gardens and woods of Watts Gallery at the foot of the Surrey Hills.

This adaptation of the 1908 family classic is now being reimagined for audiences to enjoy from their own homes. GSC has met with recent success with a series of sell-out online Murder Mystery ‘parties’, created and delivered by their own in-house team.

The 2015 Willows script is being revised for six actors and will once again be directed by Tom Littler who directed the original production.

The 75-minute show will also include elements of audience participation ensuring the immersive style of GSC’s work continues on this new platform.

Matt Pinches, GSC Co-Founder said: “We’re a site-responsive theatre company, so given the current change in our theatrical landscape, we’re excited to be exploring this new ‘site-specific’ context of live theatre online.

“Our Murder Mystery audiences clearly relished being able not only to look forward to a social event and connect with friends and family as in a real theatre, but also expressed a great desire to support their local arts organisations. We’re thrilled to be able to share this production with the audiences of our good friends at Jermyn Street and the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.”

Joanna Read, Director and Chief Executive of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre said: “The Yvonne Arnaud and Guildford Shakespeare have worked together on many productions over the years. We’re pleased to be a part of this foray into producing online performance and exploring new ways of working with them, and with Jermyn Street Theatre.”

Tom Littler, Artistic Director of Jermyn Street Theatre (JST), who also directs, said: “Kenneth Grahame’s enchanting story has been a favourite for grown-ups and children alike for over a century. It’s a novel about the gifts of friendship. Many of us use Zoom for a meeting or a family birthday, but now we’re going to transform it into a place of magic, wonder, and some very naughty weasels. I can’t wait to get back to the Wild Wood and the riverbank.”

Performances are on: Thursday 4th, 7pm; Friday 5th, 3pm & 7pm; Saturday 6th, 3pm & 7.30pm and Sunday 7th, 3pm & 7pm.

Tickets are £20 per device (max two people per device) and are strictly limited.

Running Time 75 mins (approx.)

Book now

Booking via GSC Box Office only

Turn on the TAP

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A new social platform for thanking unsung heroes in education and healthcare/NHS was launched in Ascot last year but never has it been more poignant.

TAP (Thank And Praise) is a unique platform, running on WhatsApp, for parents and patients to thank employees working in education and healthcare/NHS.

Founders, Phillip and Sandie Curtis, came up with the idea after receiving so much excellent care and support for their special needs son, in schools and the NHS, and often finding it difficult to relay their appreciation.

Sandie shared her experience: ‘We have received so much help, from many truly amazing people, who deserve to be recognised for their selfless commitment to caring for us, and our children.’’

TAP research in 2019 confirmed more than 70% of people do not manage to give the thanks they want to pass on, and believe employees in the NHS and education, deserve more praise.

To use TAP, just register on WhatsApp, and let them know who you would like to thank. TAP will pass on your words of appreciation, and also allocate TAP points, worth £1, to your unsung hero, which can be redeemed with participating retailers. These points are funded by corporate companies who want to contribute to the wellbeing of employees in certain sectors.

Soon after the launch in Ascot, St Michaels school became the first establishment to receive more than 100 thank you messages, which means some of their staff have already qualified, and claimed their vouchers, which can be spent in retailers such as Costa, Waitrose and M&S.

The headteacher at St Michaels school, Lorna Anderton has witnessed the benefits of TAP first hand: “As a headteacher, I am thrilled with the opportunities TAP provides to support my teachers’ well-being. A ‘thank you’ every so often makes a huge difference to someone’s day and how they feel. Happy, positive teachers create an environment where our children can flourish. Everyone’s a winner!”

TAP is delivering a tangible solution to the growing need to improve staff well-being in the NHS and education; many of these unsung heroes are being worn down with pressures at work, and TAP provides us all with the opportunity to show how much we appreciate them.

TAP has just launched a digital thanking wall to allow people to post messages of appreciation for the courageous and selfless people working in healthcare/NHS and education, visit the website www.thankandpraise.com to see the wall and post your message.

If you live in the Ascot area, and want to give thanks, message us on Whatsapp 07871 064296, or, if you think TAP would benefit your community, contact Ann on [email protected]