Maureen McAllister, operations director of Jazz Hands CIC is well known locally for her work at the award-winning Palace Theatre in Paignton. Now she might invite you to walk a mile or two with her, but it is nothing to do with the endless energy required to run the busy community theatre at the heart of the English Riviera, but rather her new-found passion for clocking up the miles on foot.
Lockdown brought about all sorts of changes for everyone and for Maureen it was a case of buying a pair of walking shoes and stepping out. Maureen says: “It did start as a keep fit drive and a huge motivation for me was completing ‘virtual challenges’. Since March 2021 I have virtually walked from Land’s End to John O’Groats, climbed Kilimanjaro, completed the North Coast 500 and walked the perimeter of Iceland. In total I have walked nearly four thousand miles and worn out four pairs of walking shoes. I feel very fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the world any many of my miles have been completed along the glorious Torbay seafront as I walked the 8-mile round trip to work. Of course, a busy day at the theatre can rack up quite a few miles too!”.
Whilst virtually walking the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, Maureen decided that a bit of reality was needed and so this Autumn she will head to Spain to walk the final 100km of this famous pilgrims’ trail, ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Maureen is dedicating her journey to helping children living in difficult circumstances and the funds raised will be split between the Palace Theatre’s own ‘Theatre Angel’ activities supporting young people in the South Devon community and ESSW Charitable Trust.
She explains ‘Here at the theatre we would love to see more involvement from young people from across the community. Theatre can be so much more than watching a live performance and we are aiming to inspire a level of creativity that could change individual futures. We’ll be offering everything from stage-fighting and circus skills classes to podcasting and creative story-telling networks.’
ESSW Charitable Trust has already raised over £4,000 for humanitarian charities at events hosted at the Palace with a final showstopper this September as Katrina from Katrina and the Waves perform for the charity. The Camino route is a UNESCO world heritage site – recognised as ‘… a meeting place for its pilgrims [that] has facilitated a constant cultural dialogue between the pilgrims and the communities through which they pass.’
To donate towards Maureen’s challenge please visit: Fundraiser by Maureen McAllister: Walk a mile in my shoes (gofundme.com).
To book tickets for the Katrina show please visit: www.palacetheatrepaignton.co.uk
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