Thursday, 20 December 2018

Touting for talent and festive greetings

WOW we've been busy! A festive frenzy of fundraising, fancy dress pub crawls, festive quizzes, fairs, film launches and (struggling to think of something else beginning with 'f'...) presentations (sorry, failed...) is coming to a close as Carlisle Mencap's 50th anniversary year ended on a high.

The fancy dress pub crawl, led by California House manager Scott Henry, certainly exceeded expectations. Scott, despite his arm being in a cast, led the merry band of Mencap staff through the streets and bars of Carlisle and raised more than £1,000! A fantastic effort.

The Big Festive Quiz, at the Old Fire Station, was a success too with 15 teams of four taking part in an evenly-fought trivia test. Hundreds of pounds were raised there, and welcome cash came in as well at the Christmas Fair in Doves Cafe/Church of Scotland Hall in Chapel Street which featured no less than 20 stands. Thanks to everyone for their support!

And, to be honest, as the charity was founded in June 1968, strictly speaking our fundraising programme to mark the 50th anniversary still has some months to run. In fact, we aim to have a spectacular weekend of events on June 15 and 16 next year - to mark the exact weekend Carlisle Mencap came into being back in '68.

This weekend will feature a fantastic Saturday night of music at The Brickyard venue in Fisher Street, Carlisle, starring Are You Experienced? - Europe's top Jimi Hendrix tribute band. Can't wait! Then, on the Sunday, we are having a Summer Fair and Bungee Jump challenge at Creighton Rugby Club in the south of the city. Yes - bungee jump!

Organised on our behalf by Extreme Sensations, we will be getting people with a daredevil streak and, hopefully, lots of sponsors backing them, to take a leap of faith from a 135ft crane and help us raise lots of money. Interested? then get in touch with me. Contact details below.

Obviously there will be more details about this weekend - which is code named 'Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky' (fellow Hendrix aficionados will recognise that as a line from his hit song 'Purple Haze'. I think it links the concert and bungee jump events quite neatly, don't you think?) - as we go into 2019 so watch this space.

But looming into view before then will be a number of events, one of the more intriguing ones will be Carlisle Mencap's Got Talent. If you can sing, dance, play a musical instrument, tell jokes (family friendly ones only please - sorry, no budding Roy Chubby Browns!) then we want to hear from you.

Resurrecting an event held a few years ago, the talent night will be held at Harraby Catholic Club in Edgehill Road on Friday, February 1. Our CEO Sheila Gregory will be 'Simon Cowell' for the night by being our chief judge, while some of the ladies in our admin department are thinking of getting together as a Spice Girls tribute act!

So talented service users, support workers, staff, trustees, parents, family - whoever! Dust down that guitar, polish those tap shoes, loosen up those vocal chords and be prepared to take centre stage for a good cause. Again, contact details at the bottom of this blog.

Yesterday, December 19, saw the launch of 'Our Lives Now And Then' - a short film made as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations. Funded by the Heritage Lottery and featuring children from Carlisle Youth Zone with support from Eden Films, the film was launched at the youth zone at a ceremony attended by 40 people including the Mayor of Carlisle, while ITV Border's cameras, That's Cumbria TV, and The Cumberland News were also there in force to cover the event.

It is only about five minutes long but the film is clever, poignant and memorable, and the feedback we got from guests at the launch was very positive and encouraging. Through dance and movement, the film portrays the history of people with a learning disability in Cumbria and the way they have been treated, including how in the early days they were sent to a hospital “that felt more like a prison”. To see this excellent film go to the Youtube link

The launch was a fitting way to end the 'frenzy' of events that I mentioned at the start of this blog which have marked a busy but fruitful run-up to Christmas.

It just remains for me to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous 2019 and Carlisle Mencaptivate will return in January. 

Don't forget - for details and/or to enter the bungee jump, talent contest, or for details of any other Carlisle Mencap events and the work we do and services we offer, contact me by email on or call 01228 674393 or 07541 865382. I return to work on January 2!

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