THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, has appointed Hannah Wakelam as its first Young Ambassador.
Musical theatre performer Hannah, 19, was responsible for setting up and running the online Yorkshire’s Got Talent contest reached its final last weekend, won by York performer and composer Ed Atkin.
Through this virtual contest and other online competitions, Hannah raised more than £1,200 for the Haxby Road theatre’s £90,000 Raise Tthe Roof appeal and boosted the theatre’s youth following.
She approached the JoRo theatre early on in its campaign to suggest ways she could help in raising funds for the roof appeal for the Art Deco building. The Yorkshire’s Got Talent online contest quickly attracted entrants and followers and membership of its Facebook group surged to almost 4,000.
Graham Mitchell, the JoRo’s events and fundraising director, says: “Hannah’s enthusiasm and support for our cause are infectious. She’s achieved huge things in a short space of time and has brought the theatre’s Raise The Roof appeal to the attention of thousands of people.”
In recognition of those achievements, the theatre has decided to name Hannah as its first Young Ambassador. “This new role will see Hannah supported by the board of trustees as she continues to raise awareness of the theatre among younger theatregoers,” says Graham.
A delighted Hannah says: “The support for the Yorkshire’s Got Talent competition and the money it raised blew me away! I absolutely love this theatre, I’ve performed in it so many times and we need it to survive so that it can exist as a training ground for young people, both on and off stage.”
Although Yorkshire’s Got Talent may be over, Hannah continues to work with the theatre’s fundraising and marketing teams, creating online content for Facebook and Instagram.
Video tours of the JoRo will be available to view soon, seen through Hannah’s eyes and in her words, and soon too she will be launching a huge raffle for the appeal. Already she is on the lookout for prize donations.
Highlighting the opportunities that the JoRo offers to young people, only last week York-born actor David Bradley lent his support to the roof appeal.
“The Joseph Rowntree Theatre has been a vital part of the city for many years,” says the Harry Potter and Game Of Thrones star. “I know from personal experience that it has provided opportunities for so many young people and I will always be grateful for that. I fully support the Raise The Roof appeal and wish it every success.”
Last Sunday’s Yorkshire’s Got Talent final was decided by a public poll, the contest judges and six other West End and Broadway industry professionals. Ed Atkin emerged as the winner, beating Fladam (silly-song duo Florence Poskitt and Adam Sowter) and Jordan Wright.
The judges were Wakefield performer Laura Pick, who was playing Elphaba in Wicked in the West End until lockdown, West End regular and cruise ship vocal captain Nathan Lodge and Ripon vocal coach Amelia Urukalo.
Industry professionals involved in judging were Rachel Tucker, Kerry Ellis, Natalie Paris, Matthew Croke, Nicholas McClean and Paul Taylor-Mills.
For the Raise The Roof campaign, the JoRo has set up a Just Giving page and is encouraging donations of “even just the amount of a takeaway coffee” at: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/Raise-the-Roof