Gary Avis and Friends Gala

Firstly a very big thank you to EVERYONE who helped us to build our very first regional World Hunger Day event in Ipswich on September 11th in aid of The Hunger Project at The Regent Theatre in Ipswich. It really was an incredible event and would not have been possible without the support of so many of my friends from the ballet world and the considerable support of many hundreds of friends from my hometown of Ipswich who volunteered to help front of house and perform with us all on stage too.

Pavane pdd

It was amazing that, after an absence of almost 50 years, The Hunger Project UK and their World Hunger Day Initiative inspired us all at The Royal Ballet to returned to Ipswich to perform two historic and truly spectacular shows at The Ipswich Regent Theatre and that, as a result, we raised £50,000 for The Hunger Project and their work in Africa, South Asia and Latin America to end Hunger and Poverty.

As part of the project, 100 wonderfully talented young dancers from the local community attended Dance Workshops led by The Royal Ballet’s David Pickering. They all made a donation of £8.50 to The Hunger Project for their place at the workshops and, I think, really enjoyed themselves.

60 local performers also took to the stage with us from The Linda Shipton School of Dance, The Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society, The Gallery Players, Appeal Theatre Group and The Co-Op Juniors Theatre Company. They all worked incredibly hard and the talent they displayed on stage was very much appreciated by the audience. A fabulous effort from them all.


My dear friend and fellow Patron of THP UK Angela Rippon OBE hosted the event. Angela worked incredibly hard to support so many aspects of the project and I really enjoyed working with her and was terribly proud to see her up there on stage dancing with me too. Angela you are amazing!!

We were also really lucky to be supported by our Patron Judith Batchelar behind the scenes and the gala was Produced brilliantly by THP Volunteer Ambassador Bryony Wells who worked night and day on the project for 3 months in partnership with Tim (my husband) and Country Director of THP UK and Mark Speirs also from THP UK. I owe Angela, Judith, Bryony, Tim, Mark and all at The Hunger Project UK an enormous dept of thanks.

Thanks also to Roger Barcham of BMS Imaging Ltd, who donated all the performance images free to The Hunger Project. He did an amazing job capturing the essence of the show.

As you will see from the pictures, the event was supported by stunning performances from Jumoke Fashola and Steven McRae from our Dionne Warwick and Friends event in January of this year and a host of my dancing friends including The Royal Ballet’s Roberta Marquez, Nehemiah Kish, Yuhui Choe, Melissa Hamilton, Paul Kay, Ryoichi Hirano, Liam Scarlett, Leanne Cope and Yasmine Naghdi supported by The Royal Opera Baritone Nigel Cliffe, Royal Ballet pianist Kate Shipway, Jazz Pianist Peter Edwards and members of The Royal Ballet’s backstage stage crew and wardrobe teams and two brilliant stage managers from The Royal Opera, Sarah Woodward and Adam Lawley.


Many of you will remember that I spent two very happy seasons dancing with English National Ballet a few years ago and I was delighted that our lighting was designed by ENB’s David Richardson, that Begona Cao agreed to dance with us as a special guest, that my dear friend Jane Haworth came along to give class and helped with rehearsals. Special thanks to ENB’s Artistic Director, Wayne Eagling.

I really was stunned and amazed to see this project coming together, we all knew the potential from the incredible launch event in London earlier this year, but having 2,600 people from my local community giving us all a standing ovation at both shows is something I will never forget.

Gary Avis & Friends would not have been possible without the considerable financial support of Lord Archer, Lord Ashcroft, Angela Bernstein, Cynthia Brown, Andrew Cracknell, Simon Robey and Lord Stevenson. Many thanks to you all for your faith and investment.

I really hope that everyone enjoyed being a part of it and I look forward to the next time we do this!?! Gary Avis & Friends 2 perhaps?

Tim Holder, Country Director for The Hunger Project says..

'as an Ipswich born lad myself, I think we all felt that creating this event in Ipswich was a wonderful opportunity, but I'm not quite sure we anticipated quite how enormous and positive the response would be. I would like to thank all at Ipswich Borough Council , The Ipswich Regent, Dame Monica Mason DBE, OBE Director of The Royal Ballet, future Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O'Hare and so many friends old and new for coming together with so much passion and energy to make this happen. I would especially like to thank all my friends from the dance world who I have grown to know and love over the past 20 years, you all very regularly take my breath away with your incredible talent and I really appreciate you all stepping up to support me and my work with The Hunger Project. I hope that your support will continue for The Hunger Project and the future projects we hope to create. Our World Hunger Day initiative is all about creating opportunities for people to use their talents to help The Hunger Project end hunger and poverty. I would like to take this opportunity to ask all those who read this article to consider what they might be able to do to help us make this project grow and diversify. A big thank you to everyone.'
Black Swan
Glenn Halliday, Chair of The Board of Trustees for THP UK says..
'I have no doubt in the incredible commitment and talent of our team of two part-time staff at THP UK, they never cease to amaze us with their creativity, incredible commitment and vision. However, in true THP tradition, our work can only really happen with the support of volunteers and supportive sponsors and businesses. One again, we have been overwhelmed by the support we have received. Please take an opportunity to read the names of all who made this event come to life and on behalf of THP UK, many thanks to Gary, Angela, Bryony, Judith and all those who gave truly breathtaking performances in Suffolk in support of The Hunger Project.'

The next World Hunger Day project to be created by The Hunger Project UK is it’s most ambitious yet and will be led once again by the legendary Dionne Warwick supported by an all star international cast at The Royal Albert Hall on May 28th, 2012. Please visit for details.

Don Quoxite

You can still support Gary Avis and Friends by making a donation to The Hunger Project via Your support is very much appreciated.

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