Do you take opportunities when they are presented to you?

Nine months ago an amazing project began. It has changed lives in immeasurable ways and no-one involved could have ever imagined the impact it has had. 

My husband, Ian, was chatting to his friend Rich last summer and Rich mentioned that he had had this idea to raise money for a local cancer charity, KMAC. He was going to get a group of local people together and put on a show at the local theatre. More than that, inspired by the ITV Full Monty show that had recently been on with various celebrities, it was going to be a full monty show.  Ian is very supportive, and will do anything for his friends but his reaction was “I’ll help you, but I’m not doing it!”. 
Now Ian is not just a great friend, he’s also a considerable asset on a project like this, he has so many complementary strings to his bow; videographer, graphic design, sound technician, musician and composer, journalist… He’s a very talented man. However, you could know Ian for a long time and not know any of that because he is also painfully modest and has struggled with anxiety most of his life. (I can share this because he has been very honest about it publicly recently). He is my hero and I love him very much.

Back to the story…

Over the coming months Rich managed to get a core group of people together; 9 local men and 9 local women, all of whom had been affected by cancer in some way and were prepared to perform on stage at The Gatehouse, Stafford to raise money for KMAC.  It is important to mention that although they had agreed to it, they all had very personal reasons for doing the show. Many had undergone cancer treatment, others had lost loved ones to cancer. Some were doing it to overcome body confidence issues, some to prove to themselves that they could. Ian agreed to video all the rehearsals, meetings etc as well as the final shows to create a documentary. They booked two nights at the Gatehouse and rehearsals began.  Every Sunday these amazing people gathered to learn their dance moves with local choreographer, Lucie Talbott, photographer Sam Carpenter, Alan Gee who was in charge of promotion, social media and everything no one else wanted to do, and of course Ian with his video camera. They were shy, scared and most had no dance experience at all, let alone any experience of taking their clothes off on stage!
Along the way their confidence grew. They formed friendships and became a family. Unfortunately during the six months they rehearsed several people involved had loved ones pass due to cancer, this just made them more determined to make it a success though. Their dedication to the project was inspiring and the results they each experienced could never have been predicted. By the time the big night came round they had a full night of variety planned with local singers, dancers, local bands and a comedy magician and both nights were a sell out. They had laughed, cried, confided and resigned themselves to putting on the best show they could.

But what did they achieve?

Well, before I forget the purpose of the show, they have to date raised well over ¬£30k for KMAC which is over three times the amount they first hoped to raise. It might sound strange to say it but this was almost the least important thing they achieved looking back. More significantly confidence was restored, body image improved (not just for the performers, they have had messages from people in the audience who have been helped), marriages have been saved, fears overcome, friendships formed… and these are just the things that are coming to mind now, there has been so much to this project my head is full of stories and my heart is full of love and pride. If you want to find out more about this amazing project and follow their journey as it continues why not like their Facebook page or check out Ian’s Youtube channel to watch some of the videos he made for them.  

How does this help you?

Well, we are all presented with opportunities every day. Some big some small. How often to we grab them with both hands and throw ourselves wholeheartedly into something that scares us? If these amazing people hadn’t made the decision to overcome their fears and step out of their comfort zones they may have lived the rest of their lives feeling scared, insecure, unable to change in communal dressing rooms or talk openly to people about their feelings. They decided to get out of their own way and do something truly terrifying but the pay off has been immeasurable. There isn’t one person who has been involved in this project who wishes they hadn’t wasted their time. They have all learned and all grown and not always in the ways they might have expected.   

Next time an opportunity comes your way what choice will you make?

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