Steam in to Minehead for a rock ‘n’ roll spectacular in aid of cancer charity

A 1960s rock ‘n’ roll spectacular is the focal point of a major fundraising event for west country-based cancer charity Hope for Tomorrow.

Taking place on Saturday, May 30 at the Regal Theatre, Minehead, the event is the first anniversary follow-up to last year’s hugely successful world premiere of the film ‘Chance Encounter’, which raised almost £27,000 for the charity.

Set in the late 1950s, the film is a gentle love story about a young couple who meet on a steam train one summer. That couple, Clive and Kathy, are now married and with a family and being rock ‘n’ roll fans they buy tickets to ‘attend’ a concert at the Theatre.

It is against that background that the ‘Chance Encounter Anniversary Project’ event takes place with four bands taking to the stage and among the stars will be Cliff Hall, best known as the keyboard player with The Shadows, the instrumental rock group and Cliff Richard’s backing group.

The ‘Chance Encounter Project’ is the result of an idea developed by Geoffrey Bray, executive chairman of Corsham-based fleet management company Fleet Service Great Britain (Fleet Service GB) and a patron of Tetbury-headquartered Hope for Tomorrow. Also hugely involved in this year’s event is Ian Housley, chairman of Fleet Service GB’s Achieve Advisory Group, which comprises a range of experts, including fleet decision-makers, to provide both the company and its customers with a wealth of knowledge and best practice advice.

Recreating the wonderful, nostalgic atmosphere of the great days of steam, last year almost 200 people travelled along the restored 22-mile West Somerset Railway line from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead to and from the film premiere, through the beautiful Quantock Hills. They did so on a 10-coach steam train including the historic Quantock Belle dining coaches and enjoyed lunch and tea. A further more than 100 people were at the Theatre after buying ‘film-only’ tickets.

This year that same journey and dining experience will be recreated with passengers able to enjoy lunch and tea prepared and cooked by chefs from Claire’s Kitchen, based in Wootton Courtenay, and Hywel Jones, the Michelin starred executive chef at Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa. Support is also being provided by supermarket giant Tesco.

Mr Bray, ‘Chance Encounter Project’ chairman and a steam railway enthusiast, said: “The film was fantastically well received and the almost £27,000 raised from the day was staggering.

“We hope this year’s ‘Chance Encounter Anniversary’ event will be equally, if not more successful, in raising funds for Hope for Tomorrow.”

The charity is dedicated to bringing cancer treatment closer to patients’ homes by providing a Mobile Cancer Care Unit (MCCU) – previously known as a Mobile Chemotherapy Unit – to every oncology centre within the UK. There are currently 12 Units operating across the UK.

Each bespoke MCCU costs £265,000 to build and maintain for the first four years of its life and continues to be owned and maintained by the charity. Hope for Tomorrow also provides each operating Trust with a nurses’ support car, which allows nurses to travel freely between the oncology centre and the daily treatment location of Hope for Tomorrow’s MCCU.

Since the launch of the first MCCU in 2007, the charity has saved patients a total of more than two million miles and more than 265,000 hours of travel and waiting time. Fundraising is crucial as it costs £40 per patient treatment with each unit treating up to 20 patients a day.

Mr Bray said: “Fundraising projects like ‘Chance Encounter’ are the lifeblood of the charity because it costs around £200 a day to operate one MCCU.”

  • Tickets to enjoy the train journey, lunch and tea and the rock ‘n’ roll spectacular and further information is available at: chanceencounterfilm.co.uk. Show-only tickets are available from the Regal Theatre box office in person, by phone (01643 706430) or online at www.regaltheatre.co.uk. The film, ‘Chance Encounter’, is also available as a DVD from the website. Further details on Hope for Tomorrow are available at www.hopefortommorrow.org.uk.

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