Lidice Campaign Must Live Long In Stoke-on-Trent

One Monday evening, March 7th, Stoke-on-Trent witnessed regeneration in action at a landmark prizegiving event at The Victoria Hall, Hanley.

The pilot,inaugural, UK stage of the Lidice International Children’s Art Competition was a great success. 38 prizes, 10 winners and 28 merit awards, were presented to delighted children from across this city.

The children, after receiving a presentation on the topic, had produced artwork in celebration of the work of Sir Barnett Stross and the workers of Stoke-on-Trent in
rebuilding Lidice, the Czech village wiped out by the Nazis in 1942.

Around 400 inspired pieces were exhibited in all, definitely a fitting tribute to a story anyone with an interest in Stoke-on-Trent can take justifiable pride.

Broadcast simultaneously was the BBC’s Inside Out programme, narrated by Nick Hancock, explaining, in depth, the relationship between Stoke-on-Trent and Lidice, and the man Sir Barnett Stross – a man never appeared in the list of “Citizen of the Century” nominees nor currently mentioned once in The Potteries Museum.

Hopefully, this programme has done much to spread the
inspirational message further round the Midlands region and has helped fill in the generational gap of the many, many tens of thousands of Stoke-on-Trent born adults who’ve completely missed out on this story.

Stoke-on-Trent is the home of the “Lidice Shall Live” campaign. The people of Lidice feel with passion that the people of Stoke-on-Trent should be a part of their lives.

Barnett Stross and our working ancestors have presented
Stoke-on-Trent with a powerful promotional legacy. If we are wise enough to grab the opportunity with the full commitment it deserves and promote our links in exciting and imaginative ways this legacy can do much to change, for
the better, the way Stoke-on-Trent is perceived. It can help raise its profile, which can only be a good thing when attracting public & private sector investment and visitors.

Continuation of the project in schools will
ensure Stoke-on-Trent’s rightful place as the UK hub for the International Art Competition, do much to raise aspirations and send out a strong anti rascist message.

Most people agree that Stoke-on-Trent’s generated some amazing people and is responsible for some remarkable feats. Unfortunately, it’s seldomly presented to the outside world or its own young people.

The Lidice “story” is one of the great examples of a city’s people joined together in a common, courageous, selfless cause. It’s an impressive story that must be told.

Finally, it’s ironic that while much of the heritage around us disappears, we unlock a potentially priceless gift from the working class people of 70 years
ago and Sir Barnett Stross, a “great” but, sadly, formerly unknown man.

Let’s not waste this opportunity.

Regent Announces Impressive Line Up For 2011

The Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent has unveiled an impressive line up of shows for the 2011 Spring Season.

Leading the charge is the show that everyone has been waiting for ““ Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian and The Really Useful Group’s lavish production of Roger and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music starring Jason Donovan as Captain Von Trapp.

This critically acclaimed production tells the story of the Von Trapp family’s flight across the mountains with its unforgettable score including “ËœEdelweisse’, “ËœMy Favorite Things’, “ËœDo-Re-Mi’, “ËœClimb Ev’ry Mountain’ and the title song “ËœThe Sound of Music’.

Matthew Bourne returns with a startling brand new production, Cinderella. Bourne’s unique take on Cinderella is a thrilling and evocative journey through London during the Second World War. A chance meeting results in a magical night for Cinderella and her dashing young RAF pilot, together just long enough to fall in love before being parted by the horrors of The Blitz.

There’s the classic R.C. Sherriff First World War drama, Journey’s End, based on the author’s own experience of the Front and life in the trenches. It celebrates humour and courage in the face of certain tragedy. A donation from each ticket sold for Journey’s End will be made to the Poppy Appeal ““ supporting the British Legion.

In January, The Regent’s Creative Learning department presents 011 Dance. The region’s acclaimed youth dance festival is celebrating an amazing 10th anniversary with over 1,750 young people performing over nine nights. Be amazed by inspirational creations by some of the finest young dancers and choreographers ““ as the next talented generation make their mark.

Master of the mind, Derren Brown, brings his all new show, Svengali, to The Regent in 2011. Derren is a massive hit with Stoke audiences and his three night residency is sure to be the hottest ticket in town!

Marti Pellow stars as the brilliant but obsessive scientist in Jekyll and Hyde, Claire Sweeney returns in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tell Me on a Sunday, X Factor’s Niki Evans appears as Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers and electrifying film based musical, Footloose, is energised with 80s hits. Other musical highlights include Michael Jackson tribute Thriller Live and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Maureen Nolan, Liberty X’s Michelle Heaton and Emmerdale’s Claire King star in The Naked Truth, a brilliant new comedy set in a pole dancing class and The Chippendales will be bringing their Most Wanted Tour to Stoke for two nights only!

From the creators of Wallace and Gromit comes Shaun the Sheep live on stage in Shaun’s Big Show and Horrible Histories return with Awful Egyptians and Ruthless Romans.

The Imperial Ice Stars perform their dynamic interpretation of Swan Lake on Ice and The Russian State Ballet of Siberia present three timeless classics ““ Romeo & Juliet, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.

For tickets call the Box Office on 0844 871 7649 or book online at www.ambassadortickets.com/stoke. For Group Bookings call 0844 871 7619. Fees apply.

Full details can be found in the new Spring 2011 brochure with the Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella front cover.

Backstage In The Buff ““ Regent Theatre Staff Strip For Charity!

Staff at The Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, are about to show a side of them few people have ever seen before as they go the full monty and pose naked for a calendar, titled Backstage in the Buff, in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

The project was launched following the death of long serving Box Office Manager, Karen Yuill, aged just 45, in July of this year.

“We were all in complete shock at how quickly Karen’s illness advanced. Her courage and dignity in fighting right to the end inspired us all.

She asked for donations upon her passing to go to the Breakthrough appeal and we managed to raise £1000 this way. However we all felt that we wanted to continue the fundraising in Karen’s honour and then someone made a joke about doing a calendar in the style of Calendar Girls, one of The Regent’s most successful shows.

We took up the suggestion and asked for volunteers and thankfully 29 men and women from all departments at The Regent came forward to appear in the photos which were taken inside The Regent Theatre over three evenings. The photos were tastefully done, showing off the assets of the theatre… and a few of the staff as well!”

The cost of producing the calendar has been covered by local companies Church Lane Physiotherapy Clinic and Total Access, which means that every penny from the sale of the calendars will go to the charity.

Photography was by Richard Johnson, who kindly donated his time to assist with the project. Photography is in black and white with a different item for each month highlighted in pink.

Printing was done by Johnsons of Nantwich.

The calendar, Backstage in the Buff, can be purchased for just £5 from The Regent Theatre Box Office or the Tourist Information Centre based at The Victoria Hall.

Alternatively calendars can be purchased online at www.backstageinthebuff.com
(£5 + postage and packing).

Calendars go on sale from Wednesday 17 November and they’ll make great stocking fillers this Christmas!

“I’m incredibly proud of my team for coming together to work on this fantastic calendar. Many found it to be a very liberating, and in some cases, a life changing experience. We are hoping that our customers attending forthcoming shows will support us in our efforts to raise money for Breakthrough, and who knows, they might see some of the staff serving them in a completely different light from now on!”

For further information please contact David Bradbury in the Press Office on 01782 211 206 or email davidbradbury@theambassadors.com

Sir Barnett Stross & Lidice Must Be Recognised In Stoke-on-Trent

Today’s society places a huge emphasis on education. The last Labour Government coined the famous phrase, education, education, education. They say you are never too old too learn and those words are so, so true in light of a recent story told to me by Alan & Cheryl Gerrard of Fenton’s The Art Bay Gallery.

The story told of the heroic, unselfish and compassionate actions of a Stoke-on-Trent GP during World War 2.

Sir Barnett Stross was born in Poland on Christmas Day 1899 to Jewish parents. He and his family moved to England in 1905 and settled in Leeds.

Barnett Stross was educated and attended University in the City and he qualified as a Doctor in 1926.

He moved south to set up practice in the Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent and treated mainly pottery workers and their families. He became a fierce campaigner for compensation payments for workers blighted by the industrial diseases pneumoconiosis and silicosis.

It was while he was working as a GP in Shelton that Stross was alerted to and outraged by the plight of a village in the Czech Republic just north-west of Prague called Lidice.

Heinrich Himmler, commander of the SS, head of the Gestapo, ordered the complete destruction of Lidice in revenge for the killing of an high ranking German officer.

192 men over 16 years of age from the village were murdered on the spot by the Germans, the rest of the population were sent to Nazi concentration camps where many women and nearly all the children were killed.

The atrocity caused widespread outrage among the mining communities of North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

Barnett Stross was instrumental in this and he coined the phrase “ËœLidice Shall Live” in direct contradiction to Hitler’s orders that “Lidice Would Die Forever’.

The campaign to rebuild Lidice was born and at a mass meeting in the Victoria Hall, Hanley, three months later the Lidice Shall Live Movement was formally.

The people of Lidice have never forgot the role played by Sir Barnett Stross, the miners of North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. In the Lidice Memorial Museum, his work is commemorated and attracts visitors from around the world.

Barnett Stross went on to serve the Potteries for many years. He was elected MP for Stoke-on-Trent’s Hanley Division in 1945. He served in parliament for 21 years and was often called on to speak on medical issues. He was very anti smoking and still campaigned on Industrial disease. He was Knighted in 1964 and he died in 1967.

Sir Barnett Stross was never considered for the Citizen of the Century to mark the 100 year Federation of the 6 Towns.

All may not be lost however, we do have an opportunity to recognise this truly inspirational Stoke-on-Trent character.

As Alan & Cheryl point out on their Facebook Group Page [link below],

From the Sir. Barnett Stross, Twinning Lidice & Stoke-on-Trent Group

The people of Lidice always remember the role played by Sir. Barnett Stross and the miners of North Staffordshire. In Lidice Stross’s name is well known, place names being named after him. A Lidice Memorial Museum attracts visitors from across the globe.

The creators of this group believe a twinning of Lidice with Stoke-on-Trent would be highly advantageous for Stoke-on-Trent, economically, socially and culturally as it would open many profile raising and regenerative opportunities for the city. Here are some:

It would give the young people of Stoke-on-Trent a sense of pride in their ancestry. What finer example could there be of the kind-hearted spirit of the people of Stoke-on-Trent in action.

The significance of the role of ordinary, working class people in rebuilding Lidice after that terrible event would attract UK interest (and possibly global interest come 2012) – therefore doing much to improve the perceptions of Stoke-on-Trent viz-a-viz other cities in the UK and help attract hitherto unwilling investors and visitors to Stoke-on-Trent.

Organised properly with correct consultation with the communities of Stoke-on-Trent and its private sector, it could help reduce parochialism and disaffection, give the people of Stoke-on-Trent a sense of “place” and empathy with a community thousands of miles away. Especially as it was largely due to the workers of this city that the “Lidice Shall Live” campaign grew.

The Lidice Memorial Museum contains a wealth of artworks produced by world renowned artists. Already the museum have indicated their willingness to lend
artifacts related to the event towards a commemorative exhibition in 2012. They have indicated a desire to come to Stoke-on-Trent to find out more about Sir. Barnett Stross and the people of Stoke-on-Trent in readiness for their exhibition next year to celebrate the 111th anniversary of the birth of Barnett Stross.

No other city in The UK holds such an emotional tie to the events perpetrated by The SS. Although a National Holocaust Museum exists in Newark, Sherwood Forest, it is very possible that a properly fitted, permanent exhibition to commemorate the destruction of, and celebrate the rebuilding of, Lidice would attract many, many visitors to Stoke-on-Trent each year. This is even more likely if close ties are formed with The National Holocaust Museum and The National Arboretum in Cannock.

The Lidice Memorial Museum holds a Children’s Art Competition which attracts entries from all over the world. This year they’ve received over 25,000 entrants. I believe the museum would support and market an annual Children’s Art Competition which mirrored that of Lidice’s. Stoke-on-Trent could conceivably, therefore, receive work from children across the globe and prizes could include trips to Stoke-on-Trent to visit its attractions.

Sir. Barnett Stross. presented/opened the world’s largest rose garden at Lidice as a symbol of commemoration and rebirth. Stoke-on-Trent could find somewhere to site the largest rose garden in the UK to commemorate the life of Barnett Stross, Hugh Leese and the other Stoke-on-Trent people that started the campaign. Again this could be a massive a media event and the rose garden, if promoted properly, could become an attraction for many visitors to Stoke-on-Trent

There are, of course, many, many more potential benefits that could accrue into the long term.

If you agree that a twinning, whether that be formal or informal, of Stoke-on-Trent with Lidice would do much to raise the profile of Stoke-on-Trent and help in its regeneration and help improve non-domicile perceptions of Stoke-on-Trent, please invite people to join this group, or write to your councillor, or write to The Sentinel. Like others on Regenerate Stoke, we firmly believe that Stoke-on-Trent should start aiming higher. Part of that can be making the very most of any significant role it has previously made in world affairs.[/quote]

So, the gauntlet has been laid down to our City Council and the Cabinet Member with responsibility Hazel Lyth. This could be a massive good news story for Stoke-on-Trent. In these times of the “Ëœcut, cut, cut’ culture this story could be a flashing beacon amidst all the doom.

Pits n Pots completely support the effort of Alan & Cheryl Gerrard of The Art Bay Gallery, Fenton in their efforts to commemorate the act of humanity of Sir Barnett Stross. We also support the call for a formal twinning agreement with the town of Lidice.

We ask all Pits n Pots readers to join Alan & Cheryl’s Facebook Group and we ask that all readers leave a message of support on the comments section of this article.

We urge Council Leader Pervez, his Cabinet, all other City Councillors and CEO John van de Laarschot to action this request as a matter of urgency.

We firmly believe the City Council are doing their best in these most difficult times, but request that Alan & Cheryl’s efforts be recognised with positive action.

Please do not mistake their frustration for anger. This City needs progressive citizens like Alan & Cheryl to combat the negativity of the extreme views held in this City.

Sir Barnett Stross was a Jew. This year Stoke-on-Trent voted to formally adopt a Holocaust Memorial Day, what better way would there be of sending a clear message to those who use politics to deny and denounce the Holocaust, that Stoke-on-Trent will never forget those atrocities.

Stoke-on-Trent should be proud of Citizens like Sir Barnett Stross and for those, like me, who did not know about this fantastic individual, let’s get the message out eh?

“ËœExtra Sensory Pasquale’ – Comes To Stoke-on-Trent

With the passing of the Summer Solstice, it is now perhaps time to tune into your psychic powers, and who better to help you than comedian Joe Pasquale.

Joe, will embark on his ESP ““ Extra Sensory Pasquale tour of the UK on 1st October 2010 taking in 33 towns and cities around the UK, the shows hits Stoke-on-Trent’s Victoria Hall on October 26th .

The ESP tour will give Joe the chance to demonstrate his developing ESP powers! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in the Chinese year of the Tiger, Joe Pasquale has been honing his psychic skills with the legendary Zen Master, The Emperor Wang, (otherwise known as Kevin Bloss) and it’s time for Joe to hit the road and open his third eye, and engage the audience in amazing experiments that will answer age old questions, like, why do we only use 28% of our brain power while the other 31% lays dormant? Why do birds suddenly appear”¦ every time you are near?

“I’ve always been quite intrigued by that sort of thing, and the way mind readers use it ““ but I really just take the mick out of it, and people love it. To be honest it’s not something I really believe in, although when I was in the Scouts we used to go around collecting jumble and we got a lava lamp and a Ouija Board from one lot. Me and my mate Kevin and some others went into a church and contacted a ghost called Colin, which was a bit spooky, but we don’t know if it was real or just somebody pushing the board around! We quickly got rid of the board and put it back in the jumble.”

EXTRA SENSORY PASQUALE is a show for all the family, even those separated at birth who have now found each other after many years and then realised they can’t stand each other!

And just to confirm the suitability of the show – here’s a quote from eminent Austrian psychic, Professor Alf Wiedersehn, “I saw Joe in TK Max – Legendary Stuff.”

What’s It *Really* Like in Hanley on a Friday Night?

As a member of the Licencing Committee (the committee responsible for issuing alcohol licences across the City), I was invited to visit the City Centre on Friday night with our licencing team and the police, on an observational visit.

I’m not quite sure what I expected to see, as I admit it has been probably 4 years since I last when out to the pubs and clubs in Hanley at night, beyond a swift drink in the Unicorn, Reardon or Chaplins whilst seeing shows at the Victoria Hall or Regent Theatre. Whilst at college and university, I’d visited Hanley numerous times, and was familiar with clubs such as Valentinos and The Place, and the many bars and pubs in the area. On reflection, a night in Hanley would probably include a lot of walking ““ maybe starting at Heaths (near the museum), with a wander up Piccadilly past the old Manhattan bar, with a stop perhaps at Flacketts, Yates or the Pig and Truffle, before heading either along to Rosie O’Neill’s and The Place, or down to Valentinos. The pavements and roads would be crammed with people, moving between pubs and from about 10pm onwards, there would be a continual throng heading towards the various clubs.

Hanley today is much different. We met at the police station at 9pm and were briefed on the Stoke-on-Trent Business Crime Initiative, a partnership that covers both the day and night time economies across the City, and which has just celebrated its 21st birthday. The objective of the Business Crime Initiative is “Ëœto help make the City a safer and more pleasant place to be, for the benefit of the business community and the people who work, live, visit and invest in the area, by reducing crime, disorder and anti social behaviour, including alchol-related violent crime and drug offences within a 24 hour economy.’ The partnership is run by businesses and membership levels are good, with many businesses seeing the value in working together to reduce business crime. A number of initiatives have been launched and it’s clear that this partnership is delivering for both the City and the businesses involved. More specific details can be found at www.businesscrimeinitiative.co.uk

We then went for a walk around Hanley, accompanied by licencing officers and several police officers. The first road we walked up was Piccadilly, which has a few smaller pubs and bars on it, which generally were quiet, as were the restaurants we passed. Part way up Piccadilly, temporary barriers had been put across the road to prevent parking, though there were still some cars parked in the area, and one foolhardy driver tried to nip past the barrier while we stood there with the police. They were soon moved off.

As we reached the top of Piccadilly, I was quite surprised by the number of taxis, all parked up waiting. We rounded the corner of Piccadilly and headed towards Trinity Street where the top of the street was now closed off, with two ambulances parked just inside the gate. The noise hit me as soon as we rounded the corner from the bars and pubs that now line Trinity Street. There seemed to be a lot of people outside the bars, not queuing but just milling about, however as the street was closed off with another barrier at the bottom and access was also resticted against Foundry Street from Hope Street, it was in effect a pedestrian-only zone. There were a number of police just watching what was happening in the street, and as one officer explained to me, having so many bars in such a small area made it much easier to police, especially in contrast to the spreadout nature of the nightlife in Hanley I remembered from the late 1990s.

At the bottom of the road, we turned into Gitana Street, where we stopped to talk to the team outside the Night Church. I’d read about them in the paper, but it was quite nice to actually see them in action, handing out sweets and chatting. They offer refreshments and a chilled environment for clubbers to relax and talk about life, their worries and their problems. You can read more about them at www.nightchurch.net We then moved on past the back of the old Theatre Royal, which now houses Liquid, Envy and JJ’s before heading back to the police station.

So, what did I see and what did I learn? The 24 hour economy in Hanley is not what it was ““ despite the number of people we saw in the Trinity Street area, we learnt that a number of bars were not open (despite having licences to operate), and many were just opening for a few hours, shutting early due to lack of custom. The policing approach is now a lot more proactive than it perhaps used to be, maybe because of licencing laws that means reviews are easier to get, however 24 hour drinking and more late licences (a lot of the bars have licences until 4am) mean there is never a “Ëœquiet time’ for the police, even though the establishments themselves are not so spread out. Closing off the Trinity Street area is certainly a good idea, and perhaps the ability to therefore keep an obvious police presence reduces the amount of trouble.

One thing that always sparks conversation is the idea of a cafe culture. Just this week, someone was telling me we’ll never achieve that in Stoke-on-Trent. Granted, Piccadilly was very quiet, however the restaurants in this area seemed bright and clean and the area was relatively peaceable. Stigma is a hard thing to overcome, but maybe now the noisy bars and clubs seem to have found themselves an area they are comfortable with, perhaps a more cafe cultured area like Piccadilly can start to blossom? There are certainly bigger issues behind the decline of nightlife in Hanley, some of which can only be dealt with at a national level (the suggestion that the cheap price of alcohol means many people now drink at home before heading up to Hanley much later in the evening is one), however maybe we need to take the initiative and do more to encourage back those who visit the Regent and Victoria Hall, for a meal or a drink some other time? Certainly food for thought.

Big Show Announced For Regent Theatre & Victory Hall

Fans of The Sound of Music will be delighted to hear that the world’s best-loved musical is coming to Stoke-on-Trent for a three week run in February 2011, as The Regent Theatre’s flagship show in its newly unveiled Autumn/Winter season for 2010/2011.

This lavish and critically acclaimed production tells the uplifting true story of the Von Trapp family’s flight across the mountains and works its magic on young and old alike. The Sound of Music is coming to The Regent direct from the London Palladium.

The smash-hit sell-out Calendar Girls returns to The Regent Theatre with a fantastic cast including Lynda Bellingham, Ruth Madoc and Bernie Nolan. The story of a group of ordinary women doing something extraordinary is poignant and quirky ““ and sold out in Stoke-on-Trent before it had even opened last year!

If you’re a fan of hit TV show Glee, then you’ll love Don’t Stop Believin’ ““ a tribute to Glee and other gleeful tunes! A joyous show for Gleeks everywhere! Su Pollard stars in the enchanting musical classic, Annie, and The Blues Brothers is back in an all new tribute to Jake and Elwood.

Matthew Bourne also returns with a brand new production, Cinderella. Bourne’s unique take on Cinderella is a thrilling and evocative journey through London during the Second World War. A chance meeting results in a magical night for Cinderella and her dashing young RAF pilot, together just long enough to fall in love before being parted by the horrors of The Blitz.

At Christmas time, Jennifer Ellison and Jonathan Wilkes star in a brand new pantomime, Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates. Will Robinson Crusoe find the hidden treasure? Will the evil Captain Cutlass beat him to it? Will Dame Dolly Dumpling and her beautiful daughter Polly survive the storm that shipwrecks them on a desert island? Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates promises to be a swashbuckling adventure, bringing sun, sea and a tropical paradise island to the cold winter streets of Hanley this Christmas. It’s the perfect getaway!

Prepare to be totally floored by Flawless, stars of Streetdance 3D and Britain’s Got Talent, as they present their first solo show. This inspirational dance act has become an international phenomenon with stunning street dance and jaw dropping moves.

Glyndebourne on Tour returns for its annual residency offering three spectacular productions, Don Giovanni, La Cenerentola and The Coronation of Poppea and the award winning Rambert Dance Company presents its Awakenings Tour 2010. Awakenings is a theatrical rollercoaster of emotions based on true life stories and inspired by Dr Oliver Sack’s book of the same name, made famous by the 1990 Hollywood film.

The Russian Ice Stars also return with a brand new ice show, Cirque de Glace: Evolution, bringing together the story of the creation of our planet, man’s evolution and a journey to the limits of technology as a stunning ice spectacular.There’s fun for all the family with a spellbinding new adventure from the creators of The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, Peppa Pig makes her debut in Peppa Pig’s Party and from the acclaimed producers of Horrible Histories comes the incredibly squishy world premiere of Horrible Science!

Don’t forget The Regent’s very own comedy club ““ Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club, bringing the best live stand-up to Stoke-on-Trent! The Regent’s Britannia Suite will be transformed into an intimate comedy venue and you’ll be able to see comedians off the telly from shows such as Mock the Week, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, QI and Have I Got News For You.

The Victoria Hall has a fantastic music line up as rock legend Bryan Adams brings his Bare Bones Tour to Stoke-on-Trent. Jools Holland returns with special guest, Alison Moyet, PP Arnold and Digby Fairweather perform together and The Human League present their long awaited national tour featuring new League material alongside many iconic hits. Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Show is a must see for Beatles fans, with some of Liverpool’s best musicians and Talon bring their most exciting Eagles music show to date.

The Hall’s comedy reputation remains undisputed with a stellar line up including Sean Lock, Rhod Gilbert, Mark Watson, Joe Pasquale, Jimmy Carr, Jerry Sadowitz, Julian Clary, Ross Noble and John Bishop.

For tickets call the Box Office on 0844 871 7649 or book online at www.ambassadortickets.com/stoke. For Group Bookings call 0844 871 7619. Fees apply.

Full details can be found in the new Autumn 2010 brochure with The Sound of Music front cover.

Jason Manford Reschedules Gigs For Stoke-on-Trent To October 2011

You may have read recently of Jason Manford’s appointment as presenter of BBC1′s The One Show. Jason will join the team in July, where he will co-host the show with Christine Bleakley every Monday to Thursday.

Unfortunately, this does mean that all of Jason’s tour dates scheduled for Monday-Thursday have had to be re-scheduled.

Jason was due to perform at the Victoria Hall Stoke-on-Trent on 14 & 15 July this year. The new dates for Stoke-on-Trent are:

FRIDAY 28TH OCTOBER 2011 & SATURDAY 29TH OCTOBER 2011

All existing tickets will be valid for the new dates. If you hold tickets for 14th July, your tickets will be valid for 28th October; if you hold tickets for 15th July, they will be valid for 29th October. Please follow the instructions below:

IF YOU ARE ABLE TO MAKE THE NEW DATE (28 or 29 October 2011)

You do not need to take any action. Your original tickets will be valid for the new date. Please take note of the new date and keep your tickets safe.

All other details (start time etc) remain the same.

IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO MAKE THE NEW DATE

If it is not possible for you to attend on 28 or 29 October, a full refund on the value of your tickets is available.

To claim your refund you need to contact the original point of purchase as soon as possible.

If you booked directly with us ““ call The Victoria Hall Box Office on 0844 871 7649.

If you paid by card we will refund directly back to your card. If you paid by cash we will issue a cheque refund. Unfortunately we are unable to issue cash refunds.

If you booked through another ticket agent (SEE, Ticketmaster, Local Ticket Agents etc) please make contact with them direct to arrange your refund.

Please accept my sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused by the re-scheduling of this date. As presenter of The One Show, Jason’s profile is sure to rocket, and I’m sure you will agree that his show will be worth waiting for! We look forward to welcoming you to The Victoria Hall soon.

Ambassador Theatre Group Shortlisted In The Sunday Times “ËœOnes To Recognise’ List

The Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd (ATG) has been shortlisted in this year’s “ËœOnes to Recognise’ feature which is published as part of The Sunday Times PricewaterhouseCoopers Profit Track 100 Ones to Recognise.

The Sunday Times PricewaterhouseCoopers Profit Track 100 League Table, which ranks Britain’s 100 private companies with the fastest-growing profits over three years, was published for the 11th year running yesterday.

For the fifth year The Sunday Times PricewaterhouseCoopers Profit Track 100 also showcased a list of ten “ËœOnes to Recognise’ companies, which may not meet the minimum criteria of this year’s Profit Track 100, but have had, or predict, steady profit growth. ATG and the other nine companies on the list were selected on the strength of their management teams, innovation and they overcame challenges.

A judging panel, including Luke Johnson, the serial entrepreneur and chairman of Rick Capital Partners, and Hamish Stevenson, the founder of Fast Track, will select a winner from the ten companies to receive a special award at the national awards dinner in June.

The full findings were published in a special 8-page supplement in yesterday’s business section of The Sunday Times and are also available to view online at www.fasttrack.co.uk.

Rosemary Squire, ATG’s Joint Chief Executive said: “The past few months have been a period of significant change and expansion for ATG following our acquisition last November of the theatres formerly owned by Live Nation and the ongoing integration of the two businesses. We’ve also been faced with the challenges of the global recession, but our industry has remained resilient as a whole and our inclusion in The Sunday Times Ones to Recognise feature is a great achievement and testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone at ATG.”

Co-founded by Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire in 1992, ATG has a total of 38 venues across the UK. When the new Aylesbury Waterside Theatre opens in October 2010, this total will stand at 39. ATG is also one of the country’s foremost theatre producers and has been behind some of the most successful and innovative productions in Britain and internationally.

ATG’s portfolio of West End theatres includes high profile and historic buildings such as the Apollo Victoria, Comedy, Donmar Warehouse, Duke of York’s, Fortune, Lyceum, Phoenix, Piccadilly, Playhouse, Savoy, Trafalgar Studio 1 and Trafalgar Studio 2.

ATG’s regional theatres include The Ambassadors Woking encompassing the New Victoria and Rhoda McGaw Theatres and the award-winning 6 screen cinema complex, Ambassador Cinemas; Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham; Theatre Royal Brighton; Bristol Hippodrome; Churchill Theatre Bromley; Edinburgh Playhouse; Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone; King’s Theatre and Theatre Royal, Glasgow; Grimsby Auditorium; Liverpool Empire; Palace Theatre and Opera House, Manchester; Milton Keynes Theatre; New Theatre, Oxford; Richmond Theatre; Southport Theatre; Regent Theatre and Victoria Hall, Stoke-on-Trent; Sunderland Empire; Princess Theatre, Torquay; New Wimbledon Theatre and New Wimbledon Studio; Grand Opera House, York.

Current and recent ATG co-productions in London and internationally include The Misanthrope, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, Exit the King, Sunset Boulevard, Fat Pig, The Lover/The Collection, Elling, Porgy and Bess, Sweeney Todd, Company and The Rocky Horror Show. ATG also has a subsidiary company Sonia Friedman Productions (SFP), whose current and recent productions include Legally Blonde, Jerusalem, Othello, La Cage Aux Folles, Arcadia, Boeing-Boeing, The Norman Conquests, The Seagull, No Man’s Land and Rock ‘n’ Roll; and a family entertainment and pantomime company, First Family Entertainment.

Enterprise Event Kickstarts Stoke-on-Trent Business Revolution

More than 150 would-be entrepreneurs from Stoke-on-Trent took the first step to setting up in business this week at the first Jet Get Set for Business enterprise event.

Twenty local support agencies were brought together by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Jet (Jobs Enterprise and Training) programme to give advice to local people keen to turn their ideas into business ventures. And such was the success of the event at the Victoria Hall, Hanley, that a second one is being planned for November, which will be held in Burslem. In addition, a new enterprise coach is to be recruited by the City Council to cope with the anticipated demand for start-up support.

Councillor Hazel Lyth attended the event and said, ‘The creative gene is definitely alive and kicking in North Staffordshire and our citizens are showing they have the talent and ambition to take that all-important first step to setting up their own business.’

‘We had people queuing to get in at 2pm, and in total 157 people came to seek advice on turning their ideas into viable businesses. There were students who wanted to set up on their own when they leave university, people who have been made redundant and long-term unemployed people looking for an alternative route back into work.’

‘The striking thing was the genuine quality and wide range of ideas from social enterprises to manufacturing firms. The enterprise coaches and advisers on the day are convinced that at least a third of the ideas have the potential to be successful.’

To encourage a surge in the region’s enterprise culture North Staffordshire Regeneration Partnership is investing more than £Ã‚½ million in helping local people to set up their own businesses.

In addition to advice and support from a range of agencies including BES, BizFizz and Business Initiative, financial help may be available through:

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Business Small Grants Scheme which offers financial support to new business start-ups and small firms (with fewer than ten employees) looking to expand, recruit and train a new employee through the Jet scheme.
or
Test trading – an initiative which supports new business start-ups with a training allowance for the first thirteen weeks of trading. Support and training is undertaken with Business Initiative.

Director of Employment and Skills for North Staffordshire Regeneration Partnership Alison Knight said, ‘Statistically North Staffordshire is below the West Midlands and UK averages for business start-ups, but it looks as though the tide is turning. In the last twelve months alone Jet and its partner organisations have supported more than 50 business start-ups and all are still going strong. The success of this event indicates that we will help very many more in the coming months. Supporting start-ups makes sound financial sense ““ each new business saves the taxpayer £11,000 a year in benefits, so 50 new start-ups will save us more than £1/2 million in the first year alone.’