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Our Patrons

  • Maureen Lipman CBE

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    Maureen Lipman was born in Hull, trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and learned her trade in Laurence Olivier’s Company at the Old Vic from 1970. On television, she starred in the sit-com Agony, Agony Again and All at No 20 and the series About Face and Ladies of Letters. She is well-known for playing Joyce Grenfell in the biographical show Re: Joyce! And for Beattie in a series of award-winning television commercials for British Telecom.

    She appeared in the films Up The Junction, Educating Rita and Polanski’s award-winning film The Pianist. She was The Wire in the 2006 series of Doctor Who, The landlady of The Rover’s Return in Coronation Street. She also appeared in He Kills Coppers, Holby City and Midsomer Murders.

    The West End Productions include Wonderful Town, See How They Run (Olivier Award) Oklahoma, Peggy for you, Lost in Yonkers, The Sisters Rosensweig , Florence Foster Jenkins in the Olivier Award nominated show Glorious!
    When we are married and Trevor Nunn’s production of A Little Night Music, Daytona and Harvey at the Theatre Royal Haymarket (2015)

    Maureen presented television series on the subject of Art deco and Style, and last year (2015) co presented with Larry Lamb Discovering Britain and the highly praised documentary ‘If Memory Serves me Right’

    She wrote a monthly column for Good Housekeeping magazine for 14 years, and a weekly column in The Guardian and ten autobiographical books, with a new collection due this year (2016) for Robson Books.

    Maureen currently writes regular Columns for Standpoint and Spectator Health Magazines.

    In February 2012 Maureen directed herself and others in Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park.

    In 2013 Maureen appeared in ‘Old Money’ at the Hampstead Theatre by Sarah Wooley , and in a highly praised documentary ‘ If Memory Serves me Right’.

    She has recently appeared at recitals of poetry, jazz and her own monologues at Literary Festivals in Blenheim, Henley and Gibraltar.

    She is currently appearing in ‘My Mother Said I Never Should ‘by Charlotte Keatley at the St James Theatre.

    She was married to the late screen writer Jack Rosenthal for 31 year and appeared in several of his award winning television films the Evacuees, The Knowledge and Eskimo Days Their children, Amy and Adam are both writers and her Grandchildren Ava and Sacha are good with Crayons.

  • Lady Ruth Rogers

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    Ruth Rogers opened The River Cafe in 1987 with Rose Gray, bringing to London the flavours of Italian home cooking with an emphasis on the finest ingredients, an all-Italian wine list, and a modern, open dining atmosphere. The restaurant has since earned a Michelin star. Ruth and Rose have since written six cook books and presented a 12-part series for Channel 4, “The Italian Kitchen.” Their latest book, River Cafe Two Easy, has consistently been on the best seller list since its release in May 2005. The River Cafe has also recently won Tatler’s ‘Most Consistently Excellent Restaurant Award 2004’.

    Both Ruth and her husband Richard Rogers, the internationally renowned architect, are highly respected and influential patrons of the arts, both in this country and abroad.

  • Sir Tom Courtenay

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    An internationally acclaimed stage and film star, Tom trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He was a member of The Old Vic Company and among his many London successes are the title role of Billy Liar, later starring in the film version; Alan Ayckbourne’s Time and Time Again, for which he won the actor of the year award; Michael Frayn’s Clouds and the West End production of The Norman Conquests. He has worked for The Royal National Theatre and has appeared in many 69 theatre company productions including Hamlet, She Stoops to Conquer (which transferred to the West End), the Playboy of the Western World, Peer Gynt and Charley’s Aunt (also in the west end). At the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester he has taken leading roles in The Rivals, The Prince of Hamburg, Twelfth Night and Crime and Punishment, among others.

    Tom’s first book Dear Tom – a collection of letters written to him by his mother – was published by Doubleday. He was Knighted in the Queens New Year’s Honours list 2001.

  • Gaynor Owen

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    ISTD Examiner of Modern and Tap to FDI, and Founder/Artistic Director of Mersyside dance and drama center.

    Gaynor’s love of dance and theatre performance began at the age of six with her first dance lessons and the passion awakened set the course for a remarkable life. The talent, commitment and dedication Gaynor showed to her chosen profession is wholly responsible for her stratospheric success. She passed the Advanced Royal Academy of Dancing exam during her time at the Hammond School in Chester before achieving Fellowship status of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) in Ballet, Tap and Modern.

    The call of the stage beckoned and Gaynor enjoyed a short and successful theatrical career before turning to her real vocation, teaching, by setting up a school her own school which was later to become Merseyside Dance & Drama Centre, a major force in the provision of dance performance and teacher training in the UK.

    Miss Owen, is now firmly established as a major international examiner and won the ISTD award for 1999/2000 after being nominated for her life-time contribution to theatre dancing in the UK and abroad. After a number of years as a member of the ISTD’s Modern faculty committee, Gaynor received the highest honour in 2003 by being elected to the position of Chairperson of the Modern Theatre faculty.

    In 2008, after more than 50 years performing and teaching Gaynor stepped down as the principal of Merseyside Dance and Drama Centre to focus on her commitments at ISTD headquarters in London. Miss Owen remains the artistic director of the college and oversees the continuing implementation of the founding philosophy.

  • Liam Mower

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    Liam was born in Hull and began his early years of dance training at the Northern Academy of Performing Arts, later becoming a pupil at White Lodge, the Royal Ballet School.

    Shortly after, he landed the role of Billy in the original cast of Billy Elliot the Musical, also featuring on the original cast recording. During his 18-month run, he performed at The Royal Variety Performance, was invited by Anna Wintour to perform in New York City at Vogue’s Met Ball, can be seen in Elton John’s music video ‘Electricity’, and was awarded a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical. In 2014, Liam returned to Billy Elliot for a one-off live performance screened to cinemas worldwide playing the role of Older Billy.

    At the age of 19, Liam completed his training at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance with a first-class BA (hons).

    Theatre credits include Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! (2011-12), Play Without Words (2012), original cast and USA tour of Sleeping Beauty in the role of Count Lilac (2012-13), The Prince in Swan Lake (2013-14), Edward in Edward Scissorhands (2014-15), Angelo in The Car Man (2015), and has recently been seen playing the roles of Count Lilac and Carabosse/Caradoc in Sleeping Beauty (2015-16) touring the UK and Asia.

    Other credits include: Mikey Adams in Wire in the Blood (ITV), A Linha Curva by Itzik Galili,Rambert Dance Company (2010), Dancer of the Month in the Dancing Times (2012), Matthew Bourne’s Christmas (More4/Leopard Films), ‘Imagine’ – A Beauty Is Born: Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty (BBC2), Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty (BBC2 & DVD) British Style by Drew McOnie for the Queen’s Coronation Concert at Buckingham Palace (BBC), the Deloitte Ignite Festival at the Royal Opera House, dancing the Swan Duet with Royal Ballet’s Edward Watson, and Sunday Night at the Palladium (ITV).

    Liam can soon be seen in a brand new production and world premiere of Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes. He is creating and portraying the role of Ivan Boleslawski, made originally famous by Robert Helpmann in the movie. The Red Shoes will be shown at Sadlers Wells over the Christmas season, with a UK tour following shortly after.