Isomissed­my­weesisin trave­lyear

Rutherglen Reformer - - Gossip Girl -

My sis­ter Siob­han (or Shivvy as my fam­ily all call her) has just re­turned from a year and a half of ad­ven­tur­ing in East Asia and New Zealand.

I missed her so much and it’s bril­liant to have her home, so when I was in­vited by my lovely friends at the Ed­in­burgh Play­house to the press night of ‘Billy El­liot’ the mu­si­cal, I took Siob­han along as my guest and we were ab­so­lutely blown away.

The cast were out­stand­ing. In par­tic­u­lar, the young boy play­ing Billy.

The ti­tle role in this show would be de­mand­ing for any per­former but for a young boy to hold a show like that, I was just in com­plete awe.

Spe­cial men­tion must also go to the other young ac­tor play­ing Michael, who had a show stop­ping num­ber in act one that brought the house down.

I’ve had the hon­our of per­form­ing on the Play­house stage and to watch these young per­form­ers com­mand an au­di­ence of three thou­sand in the largest the­atre in the UK brought a tear to my eye.

Huge con­grat­u­la­tions to the en­tire cast and crew of Billy El­liot. I hope you have an amaz­ing run here in Scot­land and many thanks as ever to Sarah from the Ed­in­burgh Play­house for invit­ing me along.

You may have heard the very sad news this sum­mer that the UK Char­ity, CLIC Sar­gent is closing the Mal­colm Sar­gent House in Prest­wick. My cousin Rhona Devlin and a team of six other vol­un­teers have formed a com­mit­tee, go­ing by the nick­name of the M7, to make an emo­tional drive to stop this from hap­pen­ing.

They bat­tled end­lessly along­side the com­mu­nity but sadly on July 27 the fi­nal de­ci­sion to close the house was an­nounced.

The com­mit­tee im­me­di­ately changed strat­egy from #SAVEMSH to #BUYMSH.

They made ev­ery ef­fort to buy the house but could not fea­si­bly pay the price re­quested from CLIC Sar­gent of £1.75 mil­lion, there­fore af­ter se­ri­ous ne­go­ti­a­tions it was de­cided to build a new pro­vi­sion for chil­dren, young peo­ple and their fam­i­lies suf­fer­ing with cancer and life al­ter­ing ill­nesses. The other com­mit­tee mem­bers have been work­ing around the clock. They have elected a cru­cial board of trustees; each with the per­ti­nent set of skills to drive this ap­peal for­ward. They have launched a new web­site and busi­ness plan/fund­ing model, gained a fast grow­ing so­cial me­dia fol­low­ing on Face­book, In­sta­gram and Twit­ter to keep the com­mu­nity up­dated on fundrais­ing events and progress and they have also set up JustGiv­ing on­line for do­na­tions and nu­mer­ous off­line do­na­tion points through­out Ayr­shire.

Rhona said: “Mal­com Sar­gent house is the only one of its kind in the UK.

“It pro­vides respite not just for ter­mi­nally ill chil­dren and their fam­i­lies but they also host be­reave­ment weeks for par­ents, sib­lings and grand­par­ents of chil­dren who have sadly lost their bat­tle with ter­mi­nal ill­ness.

“The sup­port the house pro­vides to the fam­i­lies is of vi­tal im­por­tance. We can­not al­low this to be taken away from them. Fundrais­ing will be the key to our suc­cess – we would en­cour­age peo­ple to do­nate what they can and the team welcome more cor­po­rate pledgers to come for­ward as am­bas­sadors and friends of MSH. We only have one shot at this - lets do it.”

This is a hugely im­por­tant cause, even for peo­ple who live out­side Ayr­shire. For more in­for­ma­tion please visit: www.buymsh.com, to make a do­na­tion visit: www. justgiv­ing.com/buy-msh or text BMSH99 £10 to 70070. Or to get in touch with the com­mit­tee email buymsh@ gmail.com or call 0791 7577463.

These next few months are go­ing to be a very busy time for me with River City, Gary: Tank Com­man­der at the SSE Hy­dro and the East­wood The­atre pan­tomime. Be­cause of this my col­umn will ap­pear once ev­ery month un­til the new year with plenty of chat!

Leah With her sis­ter Siob­han at Billy El­liot staged at the Play­house, Ed­in­burgh

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