The deaths of three close family members and friends galvanised Leighton Buzzard Children’s Theatre founder Sally Allsopp into organising a Sing Out Against Cancer concert in 1995.
The group has raised thousands of pounds for the cause in the intervening years and is celebrating its 21st anniversary this month.
The original Sing Out was in memory of Sally’s seven-year-old cousin Karen who died from leukaemia in 1969, her grandad who died of stomach cancer in 1978 and her best friend’s mum Kathleen who succumbed to breast cancer a year later.
She said: “Research has improved the chances of many sufferers and knowing that every penny donated to a cancer charity will be well spent and bring hope to so many people makes each Sing Out event really important.
“We’ve done it every year since 1995 and the children and performers involved are fantastic. They sing out with all their hearts to raise as much money as they can.”
Earlier this month members took it in turns to perform for three hours at Milton Keynes shopping centre and raised £250 for a trio of charities – Macmillan Cancer Research, Supershoes and Mad About Harry - and there were two sold-out concerts at The Vandyke Theatre.
Sally said: “We’ll also be singing at sheltered housing and community events, culminating in a grand finale on December 21 when The Advance Theatre Company are performing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas at the Leighton Buzzard Theatre.”
> Sally has been involved with LBCT since 1995, when she took over from Andy Collier.
The first show under her leadership was Pirates of Penzance.
She recalled: “We recruited hard and even offered king size Mars Bars as an incentive. But it soon became obvious they weren’t necessary.
“Young people aged four to 18 are encouraged to do their best, enjoy themselves and help others in an atmosphere of sharing, caring and professional training.
“We believe every child has the right to develop skills at their own pace, achieve their full potential and experience all the wonders of theatre.”
The community group has gone from strength to strength and there’s a waiting list for all classes.
> Details at www.lbct.org/