Theatre in Hammersmith marks 125th anniversary by asking people to donate to food banks

By Julia Gregory

A theatre is marking its 125th birthday by asking people to donate to a food bank in Hammersmith this winter.

The Lyric Hammersmith’s artistic director Rachel O’Riordan and executive director Sian Alexander said the community helped it weather the storms of 2020 with a crowdfunder which raised more than £80,000. They hope that people power will also bring festive cheer to the most vulnerable.

They said: “Our local community is incredibly important to us at the Lyric and we are delighted to be partnering with other vital local charities in Hammersmith and Fulham to support those most in need, especially at this challenging time. We hugely value the support we receive locally and the whole Lyric team is passionate about doing all we can to help the vulnerable in our community and to give back to our local neighbourhood.”

The theatre is staging Panto Bingo and a special online version of Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas, with tickets from £10 as well as hosting a food bank collection.

The panto bingo starts at 6.30pm on Zoom on Wednesday December 9.

It’s hosted by award-winning comedian and writer of the Lyric’s 2021 Panto, Vikki Stone who has starred in traditional panto at the theatre as the baddie Abanazer. She will be in character and  be joined by some special guests.

The event will end with a singalong to Glory Glory Hammersmith.

Tickets cost £10 and the first prize is a family ticket for Aladdin next year.

All proceeds will go towards the Lyric Recovery Fund.

And tickets for the online screening on Father Christmas which runs from December 9 to 24  start at £10 and Hammersmith Privilege Card holders can apply for free tickets with an optional donation to Small tap big change to support the homeless.

The theatre’s stage may be in darkness but the doors at Dominion Square are open to collect donations for Hammersmith and Fulham Food Bank  from 9am to 3pm until December 16.

Unsurprisingly the pandemic meant it’s been an exceptionally busy year for the food bank which was already one of London’s busiest.

It teamed up with Hammersmith and Fulham council to distribute food from Olympia as demand  and social distancing meant it  needed more space.

The aim is to collect enough to create boxes brimful of festive cheer with 400 families in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank CEO Sian Bates said: “During the last six months since April  1 we have packed and delivered food to over 28,000 residents – that’s the equivalent of 280,000 meals delivered! It is also more than four times our usual demand and unfortunately, we are seeing numbers of referrals rise again as winter approaches.

“The residents that we serve have experienced real hardship over the past few months and we intend to add some Christmas treats into all of our food boxes in the run up to Christmas to add a little extra cheer.”

The main items the Lyric is looking to collect are:

  • Christmas treats in small packs – biscuits, chocolates, crackers
  • Small toiletry set – unisex if possible
  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned corned beef
  • Tinned tuna
  • Long Life Juice
  • Long Life Milk
  • Tinned Rice Pudding
  • Tinned Soup (vegetarian if possible)

Pictured: Hammersmith and Fulham food bank


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