A UNIQUE celebration of the life of one of the leading figures in the East Lancashire amateur theatre scene is to be held in Oswaldtwistle next month.

Big Julie’s Jubilation will see performers from societies around the region joining forces to pay tribute to Julie Hopkinson who died in the East Lancashire Hospice, aged 68.

Julie, from Rishton spent much of her life performing with various societies and making a valuable contribution behind the scenes to numerous productions.

Joining forces for a special one-off concert in her name, and in aid of the hospice, are Accrington Theatre Group, Blackburn Arts Club, Blackburn Musical Theatre Company, Clitheroe Parish Church Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, Oswaldtwistle Players, Pendle Hippodrome Theatre Company and ReACT Academy of Theatre Arts.

Big Julie’s Jubilation concert will take place at Oswaldtwistle Civic Theatre on Saturday, February 9 and will feature songs from many of the musicals which Julie was involved in over the years including musicals such as Whistle Down the Wind, The Jersey Boys, Les Miserables

All costs for the show have been met by the societies – meaning all proceeds from ticket sales and a grand draw will be donated to East Lancashire Hospice.

David Norris, who is co-ordinating the show, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the From n 19

response from the local societies and also people who have wanted to be involved for Julie, there are members involved of all ages and this really highlights how dear and loved she was by all in amateur theatre.

“Julie was larger than life in many ways, she was a bright light on our stage and so it is only fitting that we pull out all the stops for what is set to be a great night of entertainment.”

“The generosity of our local theatre groups is a true testament to Julie’s popularity and how her death touched the amateur dramatic community.

“Now all we need is an audience to come along and enjoy what is guaranteed to be a jam-packed night of first-rate entertainment – while knowing that all the money is going to such a crucial local charity.”

The show will feature former members of societies which are no longer in existence but which played a large part in Julie’s life performing together as the aptly-named Julie’s Choir.

In the years running up to her death Julie had been made a life member of and committee member for Blackburn Musical Theatre Company, and had been rehearsing for its 2018 production of Whistle Down The Wind when she became ill.

BMTC chairman Gary Worthy said: “Julie’s dedication to BMTC and to local theatre in general saw her named as a life member of our society a few years ago.

“Despite her poor health over the years, she was always there at rehearsals, often also helping with props and other duties, and on many occasions would be heard saying that it was this interest and her theatre family that kept her going.

“Following her death, members from several of the groups she was associated with felt that her contribution and dedication to amateur theatre be recognised.”

Julie, who died in May, was a founder member and co-ordinator of ChINA, an organisation set up with the sole purpose of raising money for charity. She worked on fund-raising activities enabling flagship productions including, the amateur premier concert production of Les Miserables, the musical production of La Cage Aux Folles culminating in a sell-out one night only production at Manchester Opera House and the musical production of Chess.

Big Julie’s Jubilation, Oswaldtwistle Civic Arts Centre, Saturday, February 9. Details from the box office on 01254 398319