The Downsview Players have raised more than £1,300 for two charities supporting people during the pandemic as part of their 90th anniversary celebrations.
The Players – more used to being on stage and performing for audiences in Upper Norwood, south London – created the 90 Challenge as a way of getting active during April. From 90-minute dog walks every day to making 90 baked goods and completing 90 sporting activities, the team took on a variety of challenges to raise money.
The group was founded in 1931, just one year after the place it calls home – Downsview Methodist Church – opened its doors. Usually, they would have been preparing for a Spring production in April, so the 90 Challenge helped channel their creativity into something new.
Club secretary Michele Charles said she was impressed with what the Players had achieved in just one month. “Like everyone, we’ve been apart for so long now so it’s important we find ways to connect and create things together. Charity is a big part of what we usually do, raising money for the church’s work and causes close to our hearts, too. The 90 Challenge gave us something to work towards and focus on as we push towards, hopefully, being back together again soon.”
Player Martin Parham – who came up with the idea for the 90 Challenge – undertook 90 sporting activities during April including everything from open water swimming to Kung-Fu classes. He invited friends and family to nominate activities for him on Facebook with sports bingo and acro-yoga among the more unusual requests. To finish the challenge, he invited Players to help him complete 90 laps of a park – the equivalent of 45 miles.
“It was great to have an excuse to go out every day and walk, take a run or get on my bike during April. It’s been a long lockdown for everyone, so it’s nice to have a bit of motivation. Between us, we managed to complete 90 laps of the park and that was a lovely team effort. I’m so impressed with how much everyone has been able to raise and hope we can do something similar in the future.”
Off the Record offers a variety of services to young people in the Croydon area including free, independent counselling, a young carers service and a specialist service for young refugees. Online services during the pandemic have included virtual fitness sessions and text-based counselling.
Meanwhile, in the first six months of the pandemic, food banks in The Trussell Trust’s network gave out a staggering 1.2 million food parcels. That’s one food parcel every 13 seconds, and 2,600 food parcels were given to children every day on average. The Players’ support has been donated towards that nationwide work.
Michele added: “We’re looking forward to making plans for the future again and will update Facebook with the latest news. We’re also hoping to launch a film about our history later in the summer and – fingers crossed – we’ll be able to start work on our pantomime, The Little Mermaid, planned for January 2022.”
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Watch highlights from the 90 Challenge