It’s funny how things work out when you befriend a group of strangers while visiting the memorial bench of your comedy hero.
Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while (if you’re out there?) will recall this post back in May, where I reviewed a trip to Hadfield, Derbyshire, after meeting up with a group of League of Gentlemen fans to wallow in our shared love of the series and, ultimately, raise money for charity.
It’s six months later and things with the group have gathered pace. What started out as an anxiety filled morning of wondering whether I’d fit in with my new ‘local’ mates has now transformed into a whole new social circle who, in a week’s time (28th September), will gather once again in Hadfield to celebrate everything Royston Vasey and (hopefully) raise whopping great wedges of cash for Switchboard, Derian House, No Panic and the Phoenix Cinema.
It was my new mate Chelsea Moss who set us on this path we’re now traversing together. Chelsea, a care worker and full-time excellent person, has made it her mission to raise money in the name of The League and while there’s no doubt she’d thank many in the fandom for their contribution, it’s her drive to take things forward has set us on a course for something really special.
The latest chapter in our fundraising story started when Chelsea decided to put together a collection of 50th birthday messages and get well wishes for Sally; a brave lady, friend and fellow League obsessive currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
Collating all the messages from the fans was the easy part; gathering positive sentiments from some of Sally’s comedy heroes? There lay the challenge…
But everything came together and, in advance of Sally’s 50th birthday, Chelsea had already filled a scrapbook with heartfelt words and letters from the likes of Reece Shearsmith, Julia Davis, Jeremy Dyson, Steve Pemberton and Andy Nyman. Quite a feat when you consider the busy schedules these guys are up against.
It was Andy though who took us all by surprise when he reached out to Sally personally and asked if they’d be interested in tickets to see ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in London’s West End (in which he’s currently starring), and took time out of his evening to hand sign material from his smash-hit play, ‘Ghost Stories’ (co-written by Jeremy Dyson); all for the purposes of generating more funds for worthy causes.
We were blown away by this gesture and with gusto, conversations began about how we could take things forward and make an even greater impact.
The League of Charities and Local Stuff – a new initiative that we’re now planning to expand – will bring fellow League fans and comedy lovers together to raise funds for the Gents’ four charities on a long-term basis.
In addition to making semi-regular trips to Hadfield, we’re now in talks to host cinema events in Manchester and London, giving more League-lovers the chance to meet new people, share many (likely inappropriate) laughs and stick some cash in a tin to help others.
Given that I can’t keep my mouth shut (Mouth Almighty, hello?) and clearly have some insane desire to spend every waking moment of my life working, I have volunteered to help plan and execute the aforementioned events alongside Chelsea, Sally, Allison and a multitude of other legends keen to do their bit. I may also be doing a bit of PR because it seems I just can’t help myself.
As of this weekend, I’ll be working on establishing a social media presence for the League of Charities and Local Stuff and I couldn’t be more excited about the next step in our new venture.
I’d also like to use my little blog to give a big shout out to Demon Music Group, who’ve been insanely kind in sending us a stack of League goodies including signed photos and vinyl recordings of The League; a considerable boost to our collection. These will be raffled, auctioned and doled out for donations accordingly over the coming months.
It’s all pretty amazing and while admittedly I have some nerves about what’s to come (because it’s me), I’m chuffed to bits to have been welcomed into this brilliant group with open arms.
Watch this space for what the future of the League of Charities and Local Stuff has in store…