Regular readers may have noticed that periodically Curry Rivel Online runs an update on Charity Theatre Trips to Bristol Hippodrome. Chris Cox, the gentleman who runs the trips and is Group Leader of the Langport and District Red Cross, happened to throw out the morsel of information a little while ago that the trips had raised nearly £70,000 to support the Red Cross and other charities.
Chris tells me that it all started in 2004 when he arranged a minibus trip to an Italian Concert at Wells Cathedral for the local Italian Twinning Association. This was so successful that he was asked to organise a trip to an Italian opera at Bristol Hippodrome. This he did. And of course when people have a good time word gets around and, before he knew it, Chris was arranging trips to other Bristol Hippodrome shows. Gradually the trips grew in popularity (helped by publicity in local media such as this) and Chris set up the website. He has now run a staggering 266 trips and counting with nearly 800 theatregoers on his database, some going on most trips, others just occasionally.
The trips were not initially planned as fund-raisers but, as he could not predict how many folk would book up for each trip, Chris had to decide on a charge to cover the tickets and the coach hire so that his costs would be covered if twenty people booked up. When his maximum number of 53 booked he was well in the money and decided to donate all profits to charity. The profits from his trips total over £68,000 to date, of which nearly £59,000 has been donated to The Red Cross. Chris has also donated to The Alzheimer's Society and of course to the Italian Twinning Association which started this time-consuming activity in the first place.
Well, it's clearly the simplicity of it all. All you have to do is e-mail, phone, or book via the website, pay up just before Chris has to commit to the ticket purchase which is usually two months before the show date. Then turn up on time at your chosen coach pick-up point. No hassle driving to Bristol and good company on the coach there and back.
Bristol Hippodrome has an excellent groups booking team who arrange all Chris's bookings and ticket purchases. He is able to reserve tickets as soon as a show is announced and buy them or cancel them when payment becomes due.
There is usually a £5 to £8 discount on the ticket price and no supplementary charges (booking fees) which an individual would have to pay unless they personally went to the Box Office in the centre of Bristol. So for a couple it is cheaper to come on the coach than to buy their own tickets on line or over the phone and then have to drive to and from Bristol with parking charges on top.
Chris always uses South West Coaches whom, he says, have been very generous in their charges and have provided an excellent service over the years.
So far fund-raising trips have always been to Bristol Hippodrome; whilst occasionally tempted to expand Chris finds just organising these trips keeps him and a colleague well occupied in their retirement.
The latest reservations at Bristol Hippodrome are for 'The King and I' and for 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory', both in 2023, but the earlier you reserve a place the better your seating will be. There is no payment required until tickets are purchased, usually two months before the show date.
Coaches start from Curry Rivel, pick up in Langport and Somerton, then pick-up either along the route through Wells or through Shepton Mallet.
The full programme to date is:
Mon 5 Sep 22 £47/£56
Thu 20 Oct 22 £53/£73
Thu 24 Nov 22 £42/£47
Mon 12 Dec 22 £53
Thu 2 Mar 23 £44/£63
Tue 21 Mar 23 £51
Thu 30 Mar 23 £44/£53
Tue 11 Jul 23 £37/£52
Wed 27 Sep 23 £62/£70