On Friday 20th May we finally celebrated our milestone anniversaries by hosting a glamourous Masquerade Ball at the Marriott Hotel in Leeds. The ball was originally planned to celebrate Leep1’s 10-year anniversary back in 2020 but plans were delayed several times by the pandemic.
Last Friday the event finally took place and it was definitely worth the wait! The evening was a joyous celebration of all the achievements of our members and a way to commemorate how much our service has grown and developed in the last decade.
The event was a huge success with around 130 people coming along to celebrate with us. Guests were dressed up in their finest party wear and everyone enjoyed fine food, music, dancing and most importantly a chance to be with friends and fellow supporters.
The evening started off with a red carpet arrival with trays of Prosecco to get everyone in the party mood. Everyone looked absolutely amazing in their gown, suits and masks.
After some introductions from the evening’s compare Nick, Helen ( our new Leep1 manager), Kimberley ( Leep1 Chair) and Philip Bransom ( Advonet CEO) the evening got underway.
We enjoyed a three course meal together and then the evenings entertainment really got into full swing. We’d like to say a huge thanks to Nick and The Attic Band for performing live on the night. The very talented Jenny Robinson sang live with the band which was a lifelong ambition and dream for her. She was absolutely amazing! There is now an exciting collaboration brewing and Jenny may join the band on a more permanent basis.
Jenny and The Attic Band
We played stand up Bingo, flip the coin and then a raffle draw where the grand prize was an evening and breakfast for two at the prestigious Marriot Hotel. Thank you to all the organisations and individuals for their generosity and donating prizes for our raffle.
The dress up box and photo booth was a big hit throughout the evening. Ball gowns and suits were soon accessorised with feather boas, cowboy hats and fancy headwear.
As you can see, the evening was lots of fun. But importantly we needed this celebration together to rebuild those friendships that became distant due to the pandemic. The last few years have been so hard for everyone worldwide and our members have felt it more than ever.
Due to the success of this event and the feedback we have received so far it may be that this becomes a regular feature in our calendar. I mean, who doesn’t like getting dressed up and having a ball?!
Our #Leep1Masquerade Gallery
Thank you to everyone who helped organise, came along, drank, danced, donated, partied and got into the spirit of the evening. You have all helped us make a difference to the lives of our members and other adults with learning disabilities in Leeds by giving all of us a wonderful night to remember.
Bright Sparks Theatre Artsmeet our members every Wednesday morning for their Drama Group. The sessions are fun and inspiring with up to 30 members attending from various services across Leeds. But what do they get up to in Drama Group on a Wednesday? Carry on reading to find out more……
By Guest Blogger: Elaine Walton
One thing about drama is that we always enjoy it. We have fun times and also serious times. We have to be serious when we are rehearsing for a play but there is always the enjoyment and reward of creating a good show. It builds people’s confidence and some, who have never performed in front of an audience before, start off a little scared but end up going onto the stage, facing the audience and acting as if they had always done it. And at the end of the show every person comes off stage with a big grin on their faces, having done a great job.
There is a lot of learning done and confidence built in the weeks before the show. Some who are a bit shy don’t even want to do anything in front of us in the hall we use to rehearse in but, as they watch some of the others doing things, they just join in. Within a few weeks it’s as if they hadn’t been shy at all.
The first thing we learn is that there is no right or wrong. Of course, things have to be done right in the show but if someone makes a mistake, ends up in a different part of the stage than where they should be or says something different to what we rehearsed, it doesn’t matter. We just carry on and no-one is blamed. Everybody makes mistakes. When anyone new comes along the members are keen to point out that if anything does go wrong it’s John (the director) who is to blame, not them.
Another of the first things we learn is that we have to listen to each other. If it happens that a lot of people are talking at the same time someone just puts their hand on their head to show that there is too much talking and they don’t like it. Someone sees it and does the same, then someone else and then, quite soon, everyone is stood quietly. We have to listen because, if we don’t, our shows would not run smoothly.
In drama we also have to learn to concentrate and focus our minds. We practice this by playing ‘Magic Mirror’. Soft music is played and we copy what our partner is doing with their hands. It also calms us down after our excitement of doing Magic Box. There is a lot of ‘magic’ in our drama sessions. We start our acting by walking through an imaginary park. Marc plays nature sounds and we have to react. It can be sunny, with bird sounds, or raining, with rain and thunder sounds. We have to act as if it is really happening.
We are always looking for new ideas and in what way we can explore them. We all enjoy learning new things so when something called a tableau was introduced, everyone was keen to join in as much as possible (a tableau is sort of ‘still action’). It is like stopping the action in a film; putting it on pause. We have done this by trying to see what water and fire would be like if we froze the action. We were asked to come into the middle of the room, one by one, thinking of the shape of what water would feel like to us and, when we got to the middle of the room we had to freeze that action. We ended up with a group in the middle making a scene with ‘still action’ – a tableau. And then we did the same with fire.
We also divide into two teams and choose a subject for our ‘still action’ and then decide who is going to play each part. Then each one gets into place and freezes in the position they would have had if the scene was moving. The other team has to try and guess what it is that is being frozen.
At the end of the day’s practices we usually finish with a good dance around to shake away all the thinking and plotting and acting we have done. ‘Grease Lightening’ is a firm favourite.
After a few weeks of these practices we usually start thinking about the actual show and start rehearsing for it. There will be an idea already there but everyone is encouraged to put their own ideas forward. We also start using props fairly early in rehearsals so that the cast can get used to them such as James Bond guns and getting Freddie Mercury in full costume.
Eventually the rehearsing becomes more serious and there is usually a lot to learn in a short time. And then, suddenly, the time for the actual show arrives. Nerves are high but we all cope well. In the past, we have performed our shows two or three times at The Stage at Leeds University. This year, as well as using The Stage, we also performed it in the foyer area at The Leeds Playhouse.
Performance at The Stage – Leeds University
Performance at West Yorkshire Playhouse
After the last show everyone was awarded a medal for their brilliant performances.
You certainly are a larger than life presence, full to the brim of enthusiasm, compassion, hard work and always joking about! And this is why the members and your teammates love you!
The last few years have been really challenging during Covid, but you and your teammates have done everything you could to keep Leep 1 up and running at top speed. Because of digital skills sessions your team were able to stay in contact with members throughout the pandemic and offer a large variety of fun and informative teaching online. Be there for those struggling emotionally and with mental health issues, bringing members closer into more of a family, The Leep 1 Family!
Besides the support there needs to be fun, and you have always brought that to Leep 1. Since having members returning at the end of 2020, your team have worked with both members at home and in the workplace. Pauls 10 min workout has been a big hit and the Healthy living sessions and Kahoots galore. He puts so much fun and laughter into them, awful singing, joking about, dancing and falling over, I know the members can’t get enough. It’s learning through fun and it is a comfort.
2021 has brought us a little more freedom and following Health and Safety covid procedures we have been able to have our members back at Leep1 HQ.
Seeing our members isolating at home all that time, many unable to get out at all was very upsetting.
So Paul decided that when we got back, we were going to make the most of it and get out every day possible. We have done just that, visiting – Harrogate, Otley, Golden Acre park, Roundhay park, going into town and following Owl and Dinosaur trails walking along the Canal and visiting many more places. Taking packed lunches along with us, we walk and talk and smile and laugh getting Vit-D, exercise and new experience along the way, everyone so excited to see how many steps they have done. Good Mental health and wellbeing at the end of the day.
Paul has given so much of himself to Leep 1, made so many fun memories for all who know him, he’s truly going to be greatly missed,
With love in our hearts from your Leep 1 family xxx