Riding Lights launches The Word Bank new writing fund in memory of Paul Burbridge

Paul Burbridge, 1953-2023

RIDING Lights Theatre Company is launching The Word Bank, a new writing fund in memory of co-founder and artistic director Paul Burbridge.

The fund was announced by Paul’s widow, Bernadette, at the conclusion to his two-hour service of service and thanksgiving, held on June 10 at St Michael-le-Belfrey, the church they attended regularly.

Further details can be found in Riding Lights’ June newsletter. “Paul believed that Riding Lights is called to make kingdom-centred theatre that is responsive, urgent, visionary, insightful and prophetic, and that in order to do that we need new plays,” Bernadette says.

“Paul was genuinely excited when a first draft dropped into his inbox. A skilful wordsmith himself, he became an excellent commissioner and dramaturg: a midwife of new work and encourager of writers.”

The Word Bank will support the commission and production of new writing, ensuring that it remains at the heart of Riding Lights’ work.

“When Paul died, he was – as ever – full of plans for Riding Lights. But underpinning plans, Paul always had a vision of theatre that was abundant and generous, because it was a response to the abundance and generosity of God,” says Bernadette.

“He was very amused, in the early days of the company, when a stern critic accused him of employing ‘unnecessary humour’. Years later, he described the work that Riding Lights makes as a precious outpouring, like Mary’s jar of perfume poured over Jesus’s feet: an apparently unnecessary, costly offering; an act of witness, and an expression of the abundance of the kingdom.”

The Word Bank will remain open for donations until the end of July 2024. For full details of how to make a regular or one-off donation, along with information on increasing the gift’s value through Gift Aid, go to: ridinglights.org/TheWordBank.

“As we invite you to give to The Word Bank in Paul’s memory, we hope that you will do so with that spirit of abundance, no matter how much or how little you can give…to nurture the creation and presentation of new work as Riding Lights moves into the future,” says Bernadette.

Introduced by the Reverend Iain Lothian, Paul’s memorial service was packed to the rafters for tributes by Riding Lights luminary Murray Watts and regular designer Sean Kavanagh, a reflection by Geoffrey Stevenson and contributions by daughters Erin Burbridge and Caitlin Harland and son Patrick Burbridge, plus playwright and co-writer Bridget Foreman.

St Lawrence Trinity Festival marks £410,000 organ restoration with recitals

Undergoing restoration: The organ at St Lawrence Parish Church after its move from St Michael-le-Belfrey

YORK Minster is not the only church building in York with a headline-making organ restoration project.

By comparison with the £2 million price tag to dismantle, clean and repair the 5,400 pipes of the cathedral’s grand organ, a sum of £410,000 has perked up the 1885 Denman organ at St Lawrence Parish Church, in Lawrence Street.

In an alternative kind of organ donation, It had been transferred from St Michael-le-Belfrey for restoration and installation by Malvern organ-building firm Nicholson & Co at St Lawrence.

St Lawrence Parish Church in Lawrence Street: York’s second largest ecclesiastical building

To mark the project’s completion, the Anglican 19th century church will hold the St Lawrence Trinity Festival of music and services from May 29 to June 5 in light of the Step 3 relaxation of the Coronavirus restrictions.

The festival programme will include a demonstration of the organ by Nicholson & Co ahead of the inaugural recital by Robert Sharpe, York Minster organist and director of music, on May 29 at 10.30am.

In a Festal Choral Evensong on May 30, the restored organ will be blessed by the Bishop of Whitby, the Right Reverend Paul Ferguson, at 6.30pm. 

“The church finally has an organ worthy of its size,” says Jonty Ward, director of music at St Lawrence Parish Church, where he will play a recital on June 3

Looking forward to the restorative festival, Jonty Ward, director of music at St Lawrence, says: “We are very pleased to have such a brilliant range of musicians from York coming to take part in the Trinity Festival 2021, and that there is such a magnificent instrument at the very centre of it.

“St Lawrence is the second-largest ecclesiastical building in York after only the Minster, providing plenty of space for people to attend the festival and safely enjoy the fantastic music as the church finally has an organ worthy of its size.”

Throughout the festival week, further organ recitals will be performed by musicians associated with St Lawrence and the City of York: William Campbell, May 31, 4pm; David Norton, June 1, 4pm; Jonty Ward, June 3, 4pm, and Timothy Hone, music and liturgy administrator at York Minster, June 4, 4pm.

The 1885 Denman organ, restored by Nicholson & Co

The Black Sheep Consort will give a 7pm recital on May 31; the feast of Corpus Christi will be marked with a Sung Mass on June 3 at 7.30pm, and the festival will culminate with Choral Matins on June 5 at 11.30am.

Attendance is free to all the events, but booking is required for the Inaugural Recital (May 29) and the Festal Choral Evensong (May 30) at festival@stlawrenceparishchurch.org.uk.

St Lawrence Parish Church is on Lawrence Street, just east of Walmgate Bar, York. Postcode: YO10 3WP.

The retro-designed poster for the St Lawrence Trinity Festival 2021

A Very Magical Christmas with a quest, magical spells, the Potions Professor and afternoon tea launches in York tomorrow

A Very Magical Christmas: York’s new children’s attraction, running from December 2

A VERY Magical Christmas, York’s new children’s attraction, will “offer families an experience they have never seen before” from tomorrow (2/12/2020) to January 5.

Prepare for a live interactive theatrical quest, magical spell-casting and a fun, festive afternoon tea with special effects that promise to knock your socks off!

A Very Magical Christmas will embrace the season of magic and excitement on an adventurous journey through the spirit of Christmas with spells and sparkle at every turn, and even a visit from old St Nicholas himself, where you can give your Christmas wish to his elves and hear tales of yore.

The quest will begin at St Michael le Belfrey, where you will meet your guide, the Potions Professor from Old Jacob’s School of Magic. The guide will take you through the city to teach you how to cast spells and find clues that will lead you to the secret location of the wizard school. You can be sure to bump into more characters along the way to help you in your quest. 

Once you have located the school, set in a magically medieval building hidden among the cobbled streets of York, be prepared for a magical potions lesson before you tuck into your feast. The two-hour experience will conclude with an eccentrically magical afternoon tea.

Daniel Wilmot’s Potions Professor from Old Jacob’s School of Magic

A Very Magical Christmas will be suitable for “children aged two to 99”, with dressing up being encouraged for children and adults alike.

A Very Magical Adventure was set up during the Coronavirus pandemic to offer families a fun and interactive experience – at a Covid-compliant social distance – that allows children and adults the opportunity to escape the woes of 2020.

“It has been a difficult year for everyone, but within our magical adventure, we want to create a safe, family-friendly event that enables children to escape and fully immerse themselves in our story,” say the hosts.

The stories of A Very Magical Adventure pay homage to a boy called Frank, who passed away in February 2019, aged 14, nearly three years after he was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer.

Magical adventure: The Potions Professor on the streets of York

“As Frank did, we want to find the light through the dark times, and offer an experience which brings joy and playfulness to all who attend, while supporting causes close to our heart,” say the adventure hosts.

“We hope, in doing so, we drive awareness to causes like Frank’s Fund while providing joy and entertainment through the winter season and more. A Very Magical Adventure, at its core, wants to create magical children’s experiences, while driving funds and awareness to children’s causes.”

Tickets start at £16.95; you can pre-book a place for a £3.20 deposit at averymagicaladventure.co.uk and receive a free Frank’s Fund wristband.