Paul Mayhew Archer : The Incurable Optimist

Paul Mayhew Archer on stage with only about a third of the audience in view!

On June 9th , we were honoured to host Paul Mayhew Archer who presented his “Incurable Optimist” show. Paul is a comedy writer best known as the co-writer of The Vicar of Dibley. Paul was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2011 aged 58 and found that his way of fighting it was to find it funny. He has since perfected his one-man show and has performed it at numerous venues mainy around the South of England. Just in the past few months, he has performed at Preston, Exeter, Salisbury, Cirencester, Hereford and Aylesbury.

He first got in touch with us in January and here is what he wrote:

The way it works is that I bring the show and the local group brings the audience. So the local group finds a venue seating 150 – 200 people and sells tickets. I come and do the show for nothing except basic expenses – my reward is hearing people laugh – and the group keeps the takings.

Sounds simple! We thought we could do it and went ahead. We were hopeful of getting 150 people though with just a few weeks to go, that was looking doubtful. Then ticket sales took off, we stormed past 150 and had to declare the event Sold Out at 220. We had booked The Church On The Heath at Elvetham Heath, a lovely venue for the event large enough for our audience with a separate hall to serve refreshments and a space for the raffle.

It was a great evening with lots of complimentary comments afterwards. Paul said he would find the funny side of Parkinson’s – and he did. People were saying they hadn’t laughed so much for ages.

We took £3250 in ticket sales, £755 on the raffle and about £430 on refreshments. We kept our costs down to £724 mainly by getting donations to the raffle, leaving us with a profit of around £3700, far above our most optimistic expectations!

Special thanks to Annie Theaker for organizing everything about the refreshments and overseeing the hall on the night with help from Jill Thomas, Judith Rowley, Annie McCallum and Annabel Theaker.  Serving drinks to such a large audience was a major undertaking and they sportingly gave up the opportunity to see all the show as they were so busy, especially in the clearing-up.

Special thanks to Mavis Pocock also who ran the raffle. Annie had been busy beforehand getting donations from various businesses, including Badshot Lea Garden Centre, Cineworld and Wellington Country Park. Mavis has persuaded nearby Morrisons to donate two prizes.

It was a great team effort – well done everyone!

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