The Albany All Stars!

It’s that time of year, when the grey days are being brightened up with the sparkle of lots of shiny plaudits and laurels for the great and good. From the New Year’s Honours list, which celebrated heroes both sung and unsung in January, to plaudits being handed out to entertainment industry stars at the Grammys, the BAFTAs and the Oscars in less than a month, mantelpieces around the globe are positively groaning with new silverware.

This weekend at the Albany, Jonzi D is performing The Letter as part of Lyrikal Fearta (Friday 7 & Saturday 8 February, 7.30pm), his personal account of receiving an MBE, and the difficult choice he faced about whether or not to accept it. Find out more details here.

In the spirit of all this, we have put together our very own honours list of some of our personal heroes here at the Albany, drawn from the various communities we’re engaged with. Not all of their names are recognisable, but we think they’re flipping fantastic, and that’s why we’re giving them a shout out here.

This list is far from exhaustive, and if you think we’re missing anyone (we’re sure we are), please leave us a comment and let us know! Or alternatively share our Albany Award via Facebook with one of your personal heroes and let them know they are appreciated.

So, in no particular order…. Drum roll please…

Armani Quarrington-Gray

Armani Quarrington-Gray is a talented member of our Uncover Youth Arts Programme and all round Lewisham legend. In 2013 she became a Lewisham pupil ambassador, working with the council to represent the voice of young people in the borough and ensure her peers are connected with the political process. She ran to be Young Mayor of Lewisham with an awesome policy designed to create a safe space for teenage girls to socialise, and although she missed out this year, she is bound to keep doing remarkable things.

All of the young people that take part in our Uncover programme are outstanding and do so many extraordinary things it is impossible to cover them here – but they all inspire us, every day.

Doreen Lawrence

We’re not the only people to notice that Doreen Lawrence is a truly remarkable woman, who has turned the tragic murder of her son, Stephen Lawrence, into something incredibly positive, campaigning for fairness and justice and for reforms of the police service, and establishing the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust to support young people in transforming their lives.

But she has played a particularly powerful role in Lewisham, where the Stephen Lawrence Centre is based, providing free training courses to local young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Kathy Dunbar and Gill Hart

Kathy Dunbar and Gill Hart are co-chairs of New Cross Learning, a remarkable community space a short wander from the Albany.

In 2011, New Cross Library was closed due to funding cuts. Kathy and Gill led the campaign to save the library, and in 2013, it reopened as New Cross Learning, or the New Cross People’s Library, run entirely by a team of over 60 volunteers with the support of local community charity Bold Vision.

Books are being issued again with the support of staff from other local libraries, and a second-hand book shop has been opened to raise funds. The library is open four days a week, hosting a range of local events, workshops and family activities.

It’s a great example of the remarkable community spirit that is thriving in New Cross and Deptford.

Kate Tempest

2013 was Kate Tempest’s year, when her show, Brand New Ancients, went INTERGALACTIC. … Kate is a Deptford lass through and through, often talking about her love for the local area, and the rich, complex tapestry of South East London is a running thread in much of her work. She’s also one of the most lovely, down-to-earth people you’ll ever have the good fortune to meet. We’re delighted to be welcoming her back with two shows this season: her play Glasshouse by Cardboard Citizens is in the building this week, and of course we have the return of the phenomenal Brand New Ancients for one night only.

We’re so proud of all she’s achieved: a testament to the incredible artistic talent living and working in South East London – a true Albany All Star.

Joan Ruddock MP

Joan Ruddock is our local MP here in Lewisham, and has been dedicated to the area for years, since 1987. It’s rare to come across an MP that is talked about in such warm tones, particularly after such a long tenure. She’s a great champion of the arts, as an Honorary Fellow of Laban London and a member of the Board of Trinity Laban. She was named a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2012 New Year’s Honours for public and political services. She will stand down at the next election, and will be much missed.

Meet me at the Albany Volunteers

Meet Me at the Albany Volunteers are an essential part of the Meet Me at the Albany experience every week – our artist-led day club for the Over 60s. For someone potentially isolated and lonely, those first steps through the doors can be the hardest. With bags of enthusiasm and friendly smiles our regular team of volunteers provide a big welcome that settles nerves and contributes to the overall social experience at Meet Me. The volunteers themselves help out on the day in different ways. Some help make tea, serve lunch, and help set-up the room, others assist the artists on the day with their activities – all essential in helping to keep the event running smoothly. We have a volunteer who is a poet and during a previous poetry workshop led by a professional poet, she assisted in the workshop helping to encourage members to put pen to paper. We have Psychosocial Studies students volunteering in turn helping to develop their personal interests and motivations. An Opera singer, an actor and a Ukulele player – the list goes on. WE WANT TO AWARD YOU FOR THIS!

Our volunteers are:

 Margaret Mitchell

Serena Vincenzi

Anita Whitfield

Mary Heelan

Elena Byers

Emily Chapple

Elly Bamber

Christine Saxon

Lucreta La Pierre

Rosemary Henderson

Verity Barrett

Paul Wood

Maddy Andrews

Julie Oulia

Kurban Haji

Amber Massie-Blomfield, Head of Communications, the Albany

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