Chester News round up #14

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  • Quentin Blake’s ‘BFG in Pictures’ exhibition at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum opens on 23 July. ­­Quentin Blake is one of best loved and most distinctive illustrators in the country and is well-known for illustrating many of Roald Dahl’s books, including the iconic character of The BFG. The fascinating exhibition featuring some of Quentin Blake’s early and unknown BFG illustrations will run until–2 October. A sparkling series of free children’s activities about dreams, giants and the power of imagination has also been organised by the Grosvenor Museum and other Chester-based organisations, including a film programme and an immersive children’s activity space. The Museum is grateful for the sponsorship of the Megan Gwynne Jones Trust. The exhibition of The BFG in Pictures from the House of Illustration features 40 reproductions of Quentin Blake’s illustrations for Roald Dahl’s much-loved story The BFG. Curated by Quentin Blake, a number of the pictures on display were not used when the book was first published in 1982 but chart the development of one of the most iconic characters in children’s literature and give a glimpse of a BFG that might have been. Exhibited alongside reproductions of the final illustrations for the book, this exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the collaboration between author and illustrator and the enduring power of imagination. At the Grosvenor Museum, visitors are invited to explore a twinkling cavern with rock-lined walls and a giant’s throne, specially designed by artist, Russell Kirk. Thanks to the Chester BID, there will be a free children’s film programme featuring films that aim to both inspire wonder and celebrate the power of illustration, including the 2016 ‘BFG’ animated film. Entry to the exhibition is free and there is no charge to view the films. Libraries and bookshops across Chester will be supporting the initiative with related displays.
  • Tales of Malpas Village brought to life by Youth Theatre Since January, young people aged 8-16 who attend Minerva Arts’ Malpas Youth Theatre and Young Actos groups have been working towards a brand new show based on the past, present and future of their village. Kickstart and Creative Development grants from Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Re-opening and Recovery programme have supported the group to research and develop their project under the supervision of group leaders Kyle Hill-Chambers and Emilie Lawson. They were then able to commission local writer Ged McKenna to help them turn their ideas into a play. Malpas Youth Theatre facilitator Kyle Hill-Chambers said ‘we’re really proud of this unique and brand new piece of work using historic factoids and cheeky tall tales, come and join us for the show’. The play will be performed as a promenade performance taking in locations across the village on Saturday 2nd July, starting at Malpas Young Person’s Centre at 10am. Tickets can be booked by visiting the Minerva Arts website at
  • ARSENIC & OLD LACE by Joseph Kesselring, directed by Charlie Nunez comes to Chester Little Theatre 2- 9th July. Come and meet Mortimer, a successful theatre critic, and his family: Aunties, Abby and Martha Brewster, the two kindest and loveliest old ladies you could ever meet; Teddy, his brother, who believes he is Theodore Roosevelt and spends his days in the cellar digging locks for the Panama Canal; and Jonathan, his evil brother, who left years ago. The evening begins well enough: the Brewster sisters taking tea with Rev. Dr. Harper, until Mortimer discovers Mr. Hoskins in the window seat – not quite with us, if you see what I mean – and things take an even darker turn as Jonathan decides to return home that night, accompanied by Dr. Einstein, and carrying some baggage they need to get rid of a.s.a.p! The rest of the night, and following morning, is a confusion of lights, bodies being moved, mistaken identities, baffled policemen, and accusations and threats back and forth.   Director Charlie Nunez says: “I first heard of this play when I was in uni, when my mum (who loves theatre and met my dad in a theatre group) suggested I should direct it one day because it was witty, hilarious and very rocambolesque. When I read it, I fell in love with it, I was giggling to myself all the way through it! My mum was absolutely right, this play is exactly what we need on a summer evening! So here I am, a few years later, finally directing it. I am very excited to present it to you all so we can have a good laugh together and enjoy, with the characters and the actors, this timeless classic!” Featuring a local cast, technical team, and stage-crew, this Liz Stafford Auditorium production opens on Saturday 2nd July, then plays every evening 4th – 9th July 2022. Visit for ticket booking and further information.
Chester Male Voice Choir
  • World-renowned Foden’s Band will join Chester Male Voice Choir for a concert entitled “Male Voices and Brass”  at Chester Cathedral on Saturday 16th July at 7.30pm. The concert, which is the culmination of events to celebrate the choir’s 80th anniversary, will be compered by the Choir’s newly appointed President, popular local choir leader, musician and composer Matt Baker BEM. The choir, formed in 1941 by Fred Warren as The Cestrian Male Voice Choir had originally planned to stage the concert in 2021 but sadly it had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Speaking about staging the celebratory concert, Blair Wilson, Chair of Chester Male Voice Choir said ” Myself and all the current members of the choir are proud to be carrying on the tradition that began 80 years ago, inspired by Fred Warren. Fred dedicated a lifetime to the choir, bringing it from its humble beginnings through the halcyon years of Male Voice Choirs when singing membership peaked at 115. We are so very much looking forward to celebrating this magnificent milestone with the brilliant Foden’s Band as our very special guests. Our association with the world-renowned band goes back to 1975 and we are delighted they are joining us for this very special night. With our charismatic new President Matt Baker as Master of Ceremonies, we can guarantee a fabulous evening of music and entertainment.” ​The concert will feature a varied selection of popular music from both the choir and the band including “There is Nothing Like A Dame” from South Pacific, “Anthem” from  Chess, the march from “The Pines of Rome”, Adele classic “Someone Like You”, “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables and the smash hit rock anthem “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The choir and band will also be joining forces for some very special performances during the evening. Friends and supporters of the choir and band are advised to book early to avoid disappointment, so as not to miss out on what promises to be one of the highlights of the Chester concert season. The choir is always looking to welcome new members to swell its ranks and full details of how to get involved can be found at
Saughall before and after
  • £175,000 of improvements have been made by the council to to public rights of way (PROW) at locations across the borough, £50,000 more than was planned at the beginning of the financial year. Many PROW have been affected by increased use during the pandemic and the impact of severe weather.The Council’s Deputy Leader Councillor Karen Shore said: “Our PROW team is working hard to maintain our network of public rights of way.  The results look wonderful and I’m delighted we have been able to use sustainable materials where we can.  In total, 41 improvement schemes were completed last year on the Council’s PROW network.” Work has included cutting back vegetation, new timber on footbridges, resurfacing, digging out wet areas, stile replacement, kissing gate installation as well as new furniture and signposts.  More schemes are planned in the coming months. Works have included repair to a footpath in Guilden Sutton, a new reinforced bridge in Saughall (pictured) , improved access to the public bridleway in Stoak and repairs to steps on the Sandstone trail.
Rehearsals for The Weir
  • Chester based theatre company Against The Grain are set to stage “The Weir” by Conor McPherson at The Live Rooms in Chester from Tuesday 9th August to Thursday 11th August at 7.30pm. The play marks a welcome return to the popular city centre venue for the company, which previously staged of co-founder Mark Newman’s twisted comedy “Mr Dumpling” at The Live Rooms last year. Following on from the success of “Mr Dumpling”, members of Against The Grain were mostly recently seen on stage in Chester Little Theatre’s production of “Glut!” a brand-new play by local writer Jan Bengree and prior to lockdown, several members of the company also appeared in the Little Theatre’s acclaimed production of “The Ladykilers”.  “The Weir” is set in a small pub in a remote part of rural Ireland where, over the course of an evening, locals gather to sit, drink and tell tall tales. Their comfortable routine is disturbed by the arrival of an attractive newcomer with her own eerie tale to tell. Written in 1997, the play was first staged at London’s Royal Court Theatre before transferring to Broadway. It won an Olivier award for best new play in 1997 and was voted one of the most influential plays of the 20th Century in a poll conducted by The National Theatre. The play will be directed for Against The Grain by Marian Newman. Speaking about staging the play, Marian said “Most of us love a good story, it’s the reason we go to the theatre, to be entertained by a good yarn. “The Weir” offers us just that – a group of friends and a welcome stranger who engage in friendly banter in the pub and tell stories to impress, to spook and to reveal things that make them the people they are. We chose to produce “The Weir” because it’s a beautifully written play about ordinary people who have experienced something extraordinary and have their tales to tell. We are very much looking forward to returning to The Live Rooms following the positive reception for “Mr Dumpling”, our previous production at the venue last year”.  Full details of “The Weir” can be found at where tickets can be booked online.
  • Good for Nothing (GFN) latest hack will focus on helping Chester City Baths One of their two pools, The Pacific, has been closed for emergency restoration and is due to re-open in September. “They’ve asked for our help to ensure they can remain financially sustainable. These baths are an important piece of heritage, unique to our city. They are run by a team of committed volunteers, passionate do-gooders just like us. We must do everything we can to help them stay open – help us FILL THE PACIFIC and join our hack! This hack will focus on helping Chester City Baths to stay open, by filling The Pacific pool. Due to rising energy costs and the pool’s expensive restoration, the team need something like £10k per month just to keep the water warm!” The hack is open to all GFN members, new members must register before signing up. Topics for consideration include : the Pacific launch event and other events, new audience development, figuring out how to help the volunteer team to grow and diversify skills, marketing, design and branding, promotion, sales and pricing and funding. The event takes place on Saturday 23rd July. For full details see
  • New and established business owners are being invited to a new course offering a new way of thinking and practical ways to get their ideas off the ground. The free course on 7 July at Parade Enterprise Centre in Blacon, Chester is being run by Rebel Business School with support from Cheshire West and Chester Council. Councillor Richard Beacham said: “Like elsewhere in the country, our borough has faced a difficult few years during the pandemic and now the current cost of living crisis. These are challenging times for business leaders and people thinking of embarking on new business projects. This short and digestible free course is recommended for people at the beginning of their start-up journey or even if they are an established business. It provides information, inspiration and practical advice on building and evolving a business. The Council is working with Rebel Business School to provide this free workshop which will really benefit budding entrepreneurs.” The three-hour long course runs from 11am-2pm. To book your place, visit:
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