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Ed Sheeran GeeWizz auction contributes £50,000 to Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds programme for young people with learning disabilities




A theatre has received a £50,000 boost towards an initiative supporting young people with learning disabilities thanks to a charity auction featuring items donated by superstar Ed Sheeran and his family.

Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds will use the money from charity GeeWizz for its new non verbal youth theatre groups, which launch next week and, thanks to the donation, will run until 2025.

The interactive sessions will explore a variety of theatrical mediums through non-verbal delivery to help young people with learning disabilities or are neurodivergent build confidence and make new friends.

GeeWizz has presented a £50,000 cheque to Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds for its non verbal youth theatre groups
GeeWizz has presented a £50,000 cheque to Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds for its non verbal youth theatre groups

GeeWizz donated the money from its Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk Legacy Auction, which featured personal items donated by the singer and his family and raised £506,000.

Founder Gina Long said: “We all personally know of many local families who will benefit from a much-needed project like this.”

She noted the groups will help young people to make friends in a supported and friendly environment with a team of experienced practitioners.

“This is so important in helping them feel more able to direct or manage their lives and express themselves and engage with activities and matters that affect them and GeeWizz is proud to be able to help,” she said.

There will be two groups at the theatre in term time on Tuesday from 4pm to 4.40pm for 8 to 12-year-olds and 5pm to 5.40pm for 13 to 18-year-olds. The first year of the non verbal groups has been funded by St Edmunds Trust.

Hayley Murrow, creative learning manager at the theatre, said they will be the only professional theatre company offering such provision in West Suffolk and they were grateful to GeeWizz.

She said: “The new groups will enrich the lives of children and young people using theatre and performing arts techniques designed specifically with them and their needs in mind. Youth theatre non verbal will support our young participants in building self-esteem, increasing confidence and developing a positive sense of who they are and what they can achieve.”

They plan to develop the scheme with leading theatre companies to create work with, and for, young people with disabilities.

For details on bursary places, email education@theatreroyal.org

Full term dates and session times can be found at www.theatreroyal.org/education/youth-theatre/

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