Have lunch with the stars

A CABARET team of top West End stars are coming to Comet country to put on a show in aid of the new youth wing at Hitchin’s Queen Mother Theatre.

The visit, which is the final fundraising effort in aid of the wing, is thanks to someone who began his stage career in Hitchin.

Lee Mead, Jodie Prenger and Claire Sweeney are among artistes lined up to appear in Sunday Lunch with the Stars at Hitchin Priory on September 19.

The three are close friends of former Hitchin actor Neil Rutherford, the fourth member of the cabaret team.

Neil, whose parents Iain and Keryle live at Stotfold, is now casting director for the Ambassador Theatre Group and has been responsible for many West End and touring productions.

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Before turning professional he took leading roles in many local shows and was one of the first to join the Bancroft Players Youth Theatre at the QMT in the 1980s.

Neil told the Comet: “It’s wonderful to be able come back to support this fabulous project. Having been part of the original company this is something that is very personal for me.

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“When youngsters are so often associated with negative stories, it’s important that we encourage each new generation to find ways of leading positive lives. For me this has always been easiest through art, music and drama. I’m thrilled that my friends Lee, Jodie and Claire have promised to join me in the cabaret for this great fundraising event for the new youth wing.”

QMT chairman Richard Whitmore said: “We’re so lucky to be able to celebrate the appeal’s achievement in this way. For one of our first youth members to be able to attract such a stellar line-up of artistes, all prepared to perform free of charge, shows how our project has caught everyone’s imagination.

“Thanks to them, to some magnificent donations and a lot of hard work by our own members we expect to raise �250,000 by the end of the appeal in September.”

Chartridge Conference Company is allowing free use of its 200-seat Priory marquee for the event which includes a drinks reception and three-course Sunday lunch before the cabaret. Application forms for tickets are available at Hitchin Town Centre Initiative office, 27 Churchyard (01462 453335) or from appeal secretary Paula Downes via her e-mail paula.downes@ntlworld.com

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