Griff Rhys Jones' Christmas gift to Ipswich as celebrity show returns
- Credit: Archant
Griff Rhys Jones is to give Suffolk a special festive gift - by returning with his popular "Merry Christmas Ipswich" celebrity show to raise vital cash for a children's hospice.
The comedian raised £70,000 for East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH) when he last brought a line-up of famous friends such as Lee Mack, Angus Deayton and Al Murray to the town's Regent Theatre for a yuletide extravaganza.
He even turned up in Grit Rhys Jones, a yellow gritting lorry comically named after him by Suffolk Highways to honour local celebrities.
But the show had to be cancelled in 2020, because of the coronavirus crisis.
Griff, who rose to fame on Not the Nine O'Clock News, instead held his Celebrity Bottom Auction - raising £146,466 for EACH, which runs The Treehouse hospice in Ipswich.
But he is now phoning round his contacts book of celebrity friends to put together another stellar line-up at the Regent on December 6.
In a video message as early bird tickets go on sale today, Griff said: "We're going to do another Happy Christmas Ipswich.
You may also want to watch:
"We did the first one in 2019. It was a fantastic night and we raised £70,000 for EACH.
"It was an achievement - but I get the feeling we can better than that.
- 1 Unex starts work at former Ipswich Debenhams store
- 2 Border Force 'urgently responding' to incident off the Harwich coast
- 3 Christmas light DJ to open new Ipswich bar
- 4 'It was gut wrenching' - Mum's Covid message after son, 12, hospitalised
- 5 'Horror movie script' - Waterfront lounge bar plans rejected again
- 6 Rail services affected after person hit by train
- 7 'Small number' of street workers in Ipswich, 15 years after Steve Wright murders
- 8 Watchdog upholds mother's complaint about handling of son's special education needs
- 9 Emergency services conduct search and rescue mission off Harwich coast
- 10 Felixstowe to get £1million 'beach village' with new attractions
"I'm going to get onto some old mates and we're going to come and have another show."
The event comes at the right time for EACH which, like many charities, has seen its fundraising income slashed as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
The charity - which runs The Nook in Norfolk, The Treehouse in Ipswich and its hospice in Milton, near Cambridge - said the sheer generosity of the public had helped it through a time where it was forced to focus its services on the most important, end-of-life care.
It also moved many therapy services online.
EACH only gets 16% of its funding from statutory bodies - meaning it has to raise the rest itself, at a time when income from fundraising events and charity shops has been severely reduced.
“I hope it will make a major contribution to helping EACH during what has been, during lockdown, a very difficult time," Griff said in his video.
"We can get together, we can have fun, we can have music, we can have dancing and we can have comedy – and we can have Happy Christmas Ipswich…2!”
Griff has previously spoken of how visiting EACH's hospice has moved him to tears.
Kevin Clements, EACH director of fundraising, said: “In 2019, we had an incredible sell-out and unique evening of hilarious laughs.
"This year’s line-up will be announced in September and it promises to be an even bigger and better night than before.
"We’re delighted to say that Birketts have generously agreed to sponsor the event, meaning every penny raised will go directly towards continuing care for local children and young people with life-threatening conditions, and support for their families.
"We’d urge people to book early-bird discounted tickets as soon as they can, so they don’t miss out on another great night.”
Early-bird tickets start from £35, including a booking fee.
They are available by visiting the Ipswich Theatres website at 10am today.
You can also call the Regent Box Office on 01473 433100.
For more information about EACH, visit the charity's website.