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St. Mary's Principal hosts evening with Alan Johnson MP



The St. Mary’s College Principal was the host when Labour politician turned award-winning author Alan Johnson visited Merseyside for an ‘in conversation’ evening last week. Mike Kennedy was invited to quiz the former Home Secretary at the event which was held at Springfield Court Nursing Home in Aughton.
The evening was organised by the owner of the home and former St. Mary’s Art Teacher, Colin Wilkinson, who organises regular talks and musical performances for residents and invited guests, including on this occasion West Lancashire MP, Rosie Cooper. The event began with a 45-minute interview which touched on a wide range of subjects, from the MP’s views on grammar schools to his Merseyside family connection. The BBC TV This Week regular then took questions from the audience, before guests retired to the dining room to enjoy a three-course meal.
During the evening the member for Hull West and Hessle also signed copies of his childhood memoir - This Boy - which has won a number of awards including the Orwell Prize, the country’s top honour for political writing. The follow-up to this best-selling book - Please Mr Postman - was published in September this year.
As the titles of his books indicate, Alan Johnson is a big Beatles fan, and the Springfield Court evening ended with a performance of Fab Four favourites and other well-known songs from former St. Mary’s College pupil, soprano Rachael Russell.
Commenting on the event, Mike Kennedy said, “I was very honoured to be asked to perform this Michael Parkinson-type role, especially as the subject of the evening is one of our most interesting and well-liked politicians. As Alan’s mother was from Liverpool, he clearly has an affinity with this area and the audience enjoyed his family reminiscences, as well as his thought-provoking observations on politics past and present. All in all it was an excellent evening, and I would like to congratulate Colin Wilkinson on organising this and similar events which I am sure are very much appreciated by his residents and invited guests.”



Grease is the word at St. Mary's

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St. Mary’s was transformed into Rydell High in America recently when the school mounted a successful production of the 1950s musical Grease.
Families and friends packed the St. Mary’s school hall to the rafters for the three-night run of the school version of the 1972 Broadway hit which later became the legendary 1978 Hollywood musical starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. A cast of around 40 pupils performed in the show which made full use of a new state-of-the-art sound and light system installed in the hall during the summer.
In the St. Mary’s production the lead roles of Danny and Sandy were played by 18-year-old Charlie Dandy from Southport and Head Girl, 17-year-old Niamh Thomas from Blundellsands. Their versions of famous songs like ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’, ‘Sandy’ and ‘You're The One That I Want’ generated a fantastic response from the audience.
They received excellent support from the rest of the talented cast - including the members of the Pink Ladies and the T-Birds - whose versions of other well-known songs like ‘Summer Nights’ and ‘Greased Lightning’ received an equally warm reception.
The show - which involved five months of rehearsals - was directed by St. Mary’s Head of English, Peter Ravenscroft, and the Musical Director was Andrew Byers who also performed in the seven-piece band. It was the school’s first major musical production since Oliver, Lionel Bart’s 1960s Dickensian classic, in 2010.
Peter Ravenscroft commented, “Tackling this iconic show about young love, rebellion and what it’s like to be a teenager was always going to be a very ambitious venture. However, thanks to the abundance of acting and musical ability here at St. Mary’s, the production was a pleasure to direct and the talent, energy and enjoyment of the performers was visible for everyone to see. Ultimately though, the success of the show was down to a team effort, and as well as the cast and musicians I’d like to thank everyone else involved, including those who helped out backstage, sourced props and provided refreshments.”


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