Happy Christmas Ipswich, the star-studded comedy evening organised by Griff Rhys Jones, has given East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) a whopping £70,000 boost.
Over 1,500 people packed into the Regent Theatre, with Griff arriving on Grit Rhys Jones, the Suffolk Highways gritting lorry named after him, and then bringing comedy friends to the stage including Lee Mack and Al Murray.
There were plenty more festive frolics as the likes of Andy Parsons, Stephen K. Amos, who was celebrating his birthday, a big East Anglian favourite in Rick Wakeman and Matt Richardson all performed.
The laughs did not stop there either, with funny music sets from the likes of Jess Robinson, the cast of BBC radio comedy programme Radio Active and the spoof country and western band that features Rory McGrath, Death By Country.
Connie Lamb, the Woodbridge singer who was on ITV’s The Voice earlier this year, joined the cast alongside pianist Liam Godwin, providing music during the show and for the finale that saw all the acts join the marching band of Holbrook’s Royal Hospital School and acrobats from Enigma Cheerleading Academy on stage, before being blasted by confetti cannons!
Ticket sales had already ensured the event would raise a lot of money, but a raffle midway through, featuring a £2,245 bottle of cognac, a box at an Ipswich Town game and a Christmas hamper from Barclays, which matched the £6,000-plus raised by the raffle, as well as an auction at an exclusive meet and greet session afterwards added further pounds.
Lesa Barker, EACH Head of Events Fundraising, said:
“It was a resounding success to raise £70,000. Everyone left feeling uplifted and having had a wonderful evening, full of laughter. We’d obviously like to say a massive thanks to Griff, who put in a great deal of work on this despite having plenty of other things to prepare for in what I know is a very busy festive schedule for him. To have the support of all his friends from the industry was fantastic, too, and we can say all the money raised is going directly to the children, young people and families offered support by EACH.
“Another quick thank you to our team of volunteers who worked tirelessly both backstage and front of house on the night. The result is a great start to our festive fundraising campaign, Light Up EACH Life, and we have a lot more planned over the coming weeks, including another chance to see Griff, in Cambridge, on 19 December. For more information go to www.each.org.uk/lightupeachlife.”
Griff is a keen supporter of EACH, having paid multiple visits to The Treehouse, its hospice in Ipswich, and even hosted a special visit to his home for a 12-year-old boy and his family who receive care and support from the charity. He has also done solo comedy performances for EACH in each of the last two years.
In his programme notes, Griff wrote: “EACH is a really good thing. It’s a vital service that we need where we all live. EACH makes a huge direct difference to people’s lives. It is there to stand by families through events that may come unexpectedly, out of the blue, out of order, out of turn, out of any imagining that we can imagine, and that may well happen to someone you know, to your own family or to you. EACH is not about end of life it is about finding life and joy and love in what may in some cases be a short remaining time. Or, in others, over a lifetime’s span. It does an incredible job.”