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Call puts a stop to Bucks Fizz singer Cheryl Baker's vital fundraising for Abigail's Footsteps at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury

By Jenni Horn

Bucks Fizz singer Cheryl Baker was told she couldn’t raise money for a Medway charity because of a council ruling.

The star is appearing in the musical Happy Days, which is touring the UK. At each venue, the producers choose a cause to promote and hold a bucket collection for it.

The show was at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury for five days, where the team had intended to collect for Abigail’s Footsteps, at Cheryl’s request.

Cheryl Baker is supporting Kent Cooks
Cheryl Baker is supporting Kent Cooks

Cheryl is vice president of the charity, which supports parents who have lost a child at birth.

But just hours before curtain-up on Tuesday, Cheryl received a phone call to say they were not allowed to fundraise for Abigail’s Footsteps.

She was told the theatre, which is owned and managed by Canterbury City Council, only allows collections for the mayoress’s chosen charities.

Abigail’s Footsteps was launched in 2010 by Jo and David Ward, of Priestfields, Rochester, following the death of their daughter Abigail who was stillborn at 41 weeks.

Mr Ward said: “It is really disappointing for us as a charity, and Cheryl is embarrassed and frustrated by it all.

Happy Days has been collecting for different charities all over the country and, as far as I know, this is the only theatre where this has happened.

David Ward of Abigail's Footsteps stillbirth bereavement charity and former Bucks Fizz star Cheryl Baker
David Ward of Abigail's Footsteps stillbirth bereavement charity and former Bucks Fizz star Cheryl Baker

“It is not just about the money, it is about raising awareness as well. For Cheryl to have stood up there on stage and told audiences about Abigail’s Footsteps would have been great PR and exposure for our charity.”

Abigail’s Footsteps receives support from all over Kent and to date has amassed more than £100,000.

Some of the money has been used to provide cold cots, and for bereavement training for midwives. Cheryl has supported the charity since 2010.

Mr Ward said: “Happy Days has now agreed to raise money for us when the show is at a theatre in Plymouth, but it won’t have the same impact. We are a Kent-based charity.

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

“We have been heavily involved with Medway hospital and we are soon to be involved with the Kent and Canterbury Hospital in the same way.”

Mark Everett, director of the Marlowe Theatre, said: “We often receive requests for charity collections to take place during our shows.

“Whilst we are hugely supportive of individual charities and the great work they undertake in our community, we feel that it is unfair on our audiences to have collections taking place during every performance.

“Therefore, our policy is to support the Lady Mayoress’s charities in this manner, as we are part of Canterbury City Council.”

Bucket collections at the theatre for the mayoress’s charities last week raised more than £500.

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