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Can you help?

As many of you will be aware, BACCES has been lucky enough to have had the use of two rooms at Cranebank for the storage of its props and costumes for the past several years.

However, Cranebank is due to close its doors forever at the end of June. This means that BACCES is now having to look for new storage space for its costumes and props as a matter of urgency.

If you, or anyone else you might know, could possibly donate some dry and preferably secure space to BACCES to house part or all of the above even in the short term, then please do let us know. Please e-mail Werner at

Needless to say, any help would be greatly appreciated.

Members of BACCES gathered at Step by Step's Aldershot premises on Crimea Road on 24th April to donate a cheque for £500. The donation was made from money the society raised during their last production, "Jack and the Beanstalk".

Jenny Jackson, Step by Step's Corporate and Community Fundraiser was there to welcome the BACCES members and to explain all about the homeless charity, its origins, the work it does, and the challenges it faces. She started by explaining the charity's mission statement, which is "To empower homeless people and those facing adversity to achieve their full potential." The charity focuses very much on positives, referring to the shelter as an "aspiration station". They are aiming to help 1,500 people this year.

Jenny works with 5 colleagues who need to raise around £500,000 this year alone to maintain the charity's work. The funds raised will cover existing service delivery across the charity’s areas of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire.

The charity was formed in 1989 after a local parishioner met someone who simply had nowhere to call home and who had little access to information and support. The initial ambition for the charity was to set up a night shelter for homeless people in the local community. A house was soon purchased from money raised. This, however, barely scratched the surface. A further five houses were subsequently purchased in the Aldershot area to cater for the needs of the homeless and to provide office space for staff.

In 2011, a new purpose-built shelter was opened to serve as a "foyer" offering training facilities, accommodation, and a drop-in centre where staff could work closely with social services, the police, local councils, housing associations, and schools, all of whom are able to give referrals for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The charity works with eleven to twenty-five year olds, offering accommodation to sixteen to twenty-one year olds. More recently, the charity has also been offering and promoting their LGBT group.

Step by Step works with young people to get them into work, education or training. It operates a "dry house", meaning that those being accommodated are not permitted alcohol, drugs, or energy drinks. As it stands, Step by Step is only able to accommodate 1 in 5 of those who need shelter, such is the demand.

The charity currently has foyers in Basingstoke, Havant, and Gosport, in addition to that of Aldershot. The charity also works with supported lodgings, where host families accommodate the young people in their homes. This is a more suitable environment for some of the young people Step by Step work with. They can collectively accommodate up to 202 people each night. Needless to say, there are a wide variety of reasons as to why someone ends up requiring the facilities Step by Step offers.

The Aldershot foyer is very much about integration while offering a strong support network. Currently, they have five women and ten men in their Step 1 accommodation. This phase offers 15 bedrooms. Each room comprises of a bed, desk, drawers, and en-suite shower room, and all residents are encouraged to interact with each other. Regardless of their circumstances, individuals are encouraged and supported in developing their life skills, compiling CVs, and filling in job applications. All are required to abide by curfew rules and to assist with the cooking of meals. They are also asked for £12 per week to cover the cost of their subsidised food.

In the foyer's Stage 2 accommodation, which is available for up to twelve months, fifteen individuals are offered apartment-style living. Each apartment has three or four bedrooms. The Aldershot branch currently has nine women and six men in this phase. Residents must be in training, education, or employment. They are required to pay their own bills, cook their meals, clean, and sign a tenancy agreement. This is seen as the final stage in what will hopefully lead to an individual's full integration and independent living.

The charity relies heavily on donations and BACCES are delighted to have donated £500 to enable them to continue their good work with young people in need.

For more information about the amazing and vital work Step by Step is doing, visit their web site at http://www.stepbystep.org.uk/

On 14th April, BACCES members Dee Bull, Lindy Starling, David Bowditch, Alkit Malde and Nick Young gathered at Guide Dogs London headquarters at Walkden House, Melton Street, to make a cheque presentation. The £2,500 the society donated was part of the money they raised from their charity pantomime, "Jack and the Beanstalk".

Rob Harris, Guide Dogs' London Engagement Manager, was there to welcome the five BACCES members, along with David Kent, who has been blind since the age of 18 and is Guide Dogs' Community Engagement Officer for London. Walkden House also serves as the London training centre for Guide Dogs.

David explains that Guide Dogs currently breeds in the region of 1,000 puppies each year, 800 of which will become guide dogs. The majority of these will be labrador/retriever crosses, while others will be German shepherds. Puppies are assessed from the get-go to check their potential suitability to train as guide dogs. At just six weeks old, they are tested for purpose. The puppies spend up to a year with host families, who constantly assess the puppies in a wide variety of situations. If suitable, these puppies will then become guide dogs at twenty months old following training. Most will be retired between the age of five and eight.

Generally speaking, those who are partially sighted or blind are eligible to apply for a guide dog from the age of fourteen. This will depend largely on their personal needs, their maturity, and the amount of family support available. Guide Dogs offers a Young Persons service for such cases. There is no upper age limit for those who can have or apply to have a guide dog.

When a visually impaired candidate has been granted a guide dog, the "matching process" can begin. As Nicola, who is Guide Dogs' Mobility Instructor, explains, "It is vital that the right dog is assigned to the right owner. The matching process involves ones personal situation, their walking pace, their lifestyle, their family environment, the type of property in which they live, whether there are other animals in the household, and if the person is employed or has transport needs."

A "matching walk" will then take place to see if a dog is suited to its potential new owner. The challenges facing owners of a newly assigned dog could include getting used to their body signals, their temperament, and how they react in specific situations.

The BACCES members were then offered a "mindfold" (a type of padded blindfold that blocks out light completely) walk around the locality accompanied by David and Rob. In pairs, they headed out onto the street with one guiding and the other being guided while blindfolded. London's Euston Station became part of the course for this particular exercise. It was to highlight what a partially sighted or blind person might feel while out and about on the busy streets of London. All the BACCES members said they felt disorientated and vulnerable. They also said what a useful exercise it was and that trust played a huge part.

Guide Dogs is currently working in conjunction with federations in other countries to share tips and practices. For more information on the fantastic work Guide Dogs is doing, visit their web site at http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/

On 7th April, BACCES members Dee Bull, Jo Dickenson, David Bowditch, Terry Hunt, and Nick Young made a cheque presentation to the children's cancer charity Christopher's Smile at Lakeview Care Home, Lightwater, Surrey. The £2,500 the society donated was part of the money they raised from their charity pantomime, "Jack and the Beanstalk".

Christopher's Smile founders Karen and Kevin Capel, both of whom have links to British Airways, were there to welcome the BACCES members and to explain the reasons behind creating the charity and the work it does.

Having lost their own son to a malignant brain tumour shortly before his sixth birthday back in 2008, Karen and Kevin saw the need to raise money to finance research into the development of new and more effective treatments of childhood cancers. When speaking about research, Karen said," We wanted to see something change." Though their initial fundraising target was £30,000, which was to be used specifically to fund a scientific officer, they in fact raised more than £80,000 in their first year.

To date, Christopher's Smile has raised more than £850,000. Some of this money is currently funding four full time researchers, including a doctorate and post doctorate researcher, at The Institute of Cancer Research who are looking specifically at molecular pathology and genetic sequencing in an aim to treat certain childhood cancers more effectively. Interestingly, and as a direct result of Karen and Kevin's campaigning, genetic sequencing to assess cancers is to be rolled out across the European Union for all children diagnosed with cancer.

The charity is also involved in funding sick children, buying new and more modern equipment, and funding additional research. Kevin said, "We wanted to set up a charity where we could have full control [of funds]." As a result, Karen and Kevin know exactly where all the money they raise is being spent.

They are now working closely with Lakeview Care Home, which offers residential, nursing and dementia care. The staff and residents there have been raising money for Christopher's Smile by organising events. In addition, the home has been offering the charity function space for meetings and presentations.

For more details about the wonderful and groundbreaking work Christopher's Smile is doing, visit their web site at http://christopherssmile.org.uk/

BACCES Box Officer Manager, Kevin O’Dwyer, and Assistant Director, Terry Hunt, visited Colchester on 26th March to make the first of their cheque presentations to the charities and organisations being supported from the proceeds of BACCES' 2014 production of "Jack and the Beanstalk".

Beacon House is a charity organisation which relies on grants, donations and volunteer workers to provided food, shelter, health, wellbeing facilities and life skills training to the homeless of the area, or those at high risk of homelessness.

Open every weekday, anyone in need can visit the centre to take a shower, have a haircut (provided by a local barber who gives one day of his time every week), wash their clothes or exchange them for new ones, take some bed rest, have a hot meal, see a nurse for treatment and advice on all manner of healthcare issues, learn new skills (e.g. IT training), receive support for mental well-being or simply have a coffee and a chat.

Centre Manager, Vivian Wiggins, was happy to show Kevin and Terry around the facility, which was nominated after a family member lost his way through alcohol addiction over a number of years, and was able to use the Beacon House facilities.

Kevin and Terry found it a humbling experience and were quite overwhelmed by the positivity of those who work at Beacon House, who quite often have to face the difficult and emotional situations of the men and women who benefit from the facility. Vivian admitted that "the staff do occasionally have to deal with some very sad circumstances, but equally, many people do get back on their feet, and move on with their lives. Some even return as volunteer helpers."

Vivian plans to use the £2,500 donated by BACCES to start up a new project which, once started, will hopefully then be awarded a grant to keep it going.

While at Beacon House, Terry and Kevin also presented a £500 cheque to Steven Wiggins (no relation to Vivian!), who is the founder of UC Group - a social and support group which is part of the Colchester Society for the Blind. Run on a volunteer basis, UC are able to offer practical advice and assistance to those who are visually impaired, (e.g. provide talking computers) and also arrange social outings to events specifically arranged for the blind and visually impaired. UC was nominated by Kevin and Terry in recognition of the service their friends, Frank and Eva, have given over the last 13 years..

Would you like to get more involved in our productions?

Are you or were you British Airways cabin crew? Can you sing, act, or dance? Do you have experience of the stage, or have you ever wondered what it might be like to tread the boards? Then, this might be your opportunity to shine!

Alternatively, whether British Airways cabin crew, BA a
ffiliated, or not, if you are free to help and would like to get involved in BACCES' 2016 production, "Sleeping Beauty", then we would love to hear from you:

If you would like to be part of our Front of House team, then please contact our Front of House manager, Kevin, by e-mailing him at kevinpodwyer@hotmail.com

If you would like to be part of our Backstage team, then please e-mail our stage manager, Brian, at brian_stubbington@hotmail.com

If you would like to get involved in any other area, then please e-mail Jane at bacces@hotmail.co.uk

Any time or help you can offer will be greatly appreciated. We look forward to hearing from you.

Dates for the diary:
28th September 2015 - All Day Rehearsal #1 - 12:00pm (Venue TBA)

21st & 22nd November 2015 - All Day Rehearsals #2 & #3 - 9:30am - 5:30pm (Venue TBA)

3rd January 2016 - All Day Rehearsal #4 - 9:30am - 5:30pm (Venue TBA)

8th & 9th January 2016 - All Day Rehearsals #5 &#6 - 9:30am - 5:30pm (Venue TBA)

10th January 2016 - "Get In" - Watford Palace Theatre

11th & 12th January 2016 - All Day Rehearsals, inc. Dress/Tec. Rehearsal (Times TBA)

13th - 17th January 2016 - BACCES stages "Sleeping Beauty" at the Watford Palace Theatre


BACCES is a non-profit charitable organisation which was originally set up in 1970 by two British European Airways (BEA) stewards who wrote a comedy review and staged it at York House in March 1971, Twickenham, UK for two nights. It was so popular that it ran for a further three sell out nights at Chiswick Town Hall. The national press heard of this venture and prompted "Jak" of the Evening Standard to publish a cartoon lampooning the efforts of BA cabin crew. Since that time the company have been producing reviews and, more recently, and to great acclaim, pantomimes in aid of national and local charities. The company writes, directs and produces the whole show with very little help from outside sources.

In 2008 BACCES won the Flame Award for Inspirational Excellence in Theatre from the National Operatic and Dramatic Association for their 2007 production of Cinderella.

In 2012 and 2013, BACCES not only won The S. Leslie Cowham Trophy for Programme Design (Souvenir Class) in the London Region, it also won the National Award. Congratulations Carole Jarratt and Lucinda Bowditch (Programme designers)!

In 2014, the nominations kept on coming:
The S. Leslie Cowham Trophy - Programme Design (Souvenir Class)
The Shelly Lemesh Award - The Unsung Hero
The Louise English Trophy - Contributions Made by a Young Person
The Sheila Rawlings Lifetime Achievement Award
The 'It's Behind You' award - Best Pantomime
The Kathleen Oyler Trophy - Chorus Work
Of the six nominations, BACCES walked away with three trophies for: Best Programme Design (Souvenir Class)(Lucinda Bowditch); the Unsung Hero (Brian Stubbington); and, perhaps most excitingly of all, Best Pantomime.


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