Today would have been Chris Hornby’s 50th birthday and I thought it would be a suitable moment to reflect on the wonderful legacy that has been created in his name. The success of the Chris Hornby Bursary Fund at ArtsEd has been tremendous, the perfect testament to Chris’s generous soul and the love that we all felt and still feel for him. We have pulled together this round up of how we all made it happen and the impact that the Fund has had so far.
Remembering Chris in this way is so fitting and I would love to be able to continue this special tribute to a wonderful man for a few more years. To that end, if you feel able to make a ‘birthday’ donation to the Fund today, then please do. But don’t worry at all if you can’t right now, your love and support over the years is hugely appreciated already.
Lots of love,
Clockwise from top left: (1) Gary Wilmot, Anne (Chris’s Mum) and Chris, first UK tour of Me and My Girl. (2) Chris and Tim at the opening of the Lion King UK and International Tour 2012. (3) Chris speaking to the Lion King cast with Musical Director Simon Lee. (4) Chris with Anthony Lynn, The Lion King Associate Director at The Lyceum Theatre.
Launching the Chris Hornby Bursary Fund in 2015
A special memorial event, held at The Lyceum Theatre in October 2015, gave family and friends from across the industry the opportunity to share their memories of Chris. Opened by Aled Jones who had worked with Chris on White Christmas, moving performances included ‘You Are My Sunshine’ sung by Louise Dearman, ‘Circle of Life’ performed by the cast of The Lion King, and Nat King Cole’s ‘Smile’ performed by the ArtsEd Choir. The Chris Hornby Bursary Fund was also launched, with an incredible £7,000 raised in just the first few days.
From top left: (1) Omid Djalili and Jodie Prenger share their stories. (2) Tim Howar and cast members of The Lion King. (3) Members of the ArtsEd Choir.
Since then we have continued to be moved by the generosity, enthusiasm and creativity of so many supporters. Other fundraising events include a Christmas Concert at the Actors’ Church, Kirsty Spark’s ‘Healthy Hearts for Hornby’ dance classes, Donald’s Beaujolais Night, West End audition masterclasses, and let’s not forget the Ealing half-marathon team!
We are so grateful for everyone who has supported the fund.
Together you have raised over £30,000!
Left: Song Workshop with Tim, Matt Henry, Jill Green and Alan Williams. Right: Christmas Concert with Joel Montague, Jo Napthine, Cavin Cornwall, Andrew Lancel, Trevor Dion Nicholas, Louise Dearman and the ArtsEd Choir.
The impact of your support
The funds raised have had a huge impact on the lives of two young performers studying on ArtsEd’s Musical Theatre degree, Jacob Thomas and Maria Conneely.
Maria Conneely in her showcase performance at ArtsEd, 2020 and Jacob Thomas in Legally Blonde ArtsEd, 2019.
Jacob was the first Chris Hornby scholar, receiving support for the full three years of his degree. This award was the first funded place at ArtsEd to be sponsored by individuals, a momentous achievement, without which Jacob would not have been able to complete his training. You can see Jacob’s showreels here. Graduating last summer, Jacob said:
“The support I have received not only financially but emotionally from Tim and the Chris Hornby bursary has been a crucial factor in my development and completing my degree. This has been a life changing opportunity that would not have been possible without the bursary. I am so excited to see where my career takes me, and to make Tim and Chris proud.”
Maria Conneely is in her final year and is on stage at ArtsEd this week as Jellylorum in Cats, the final graduate show of 2020/21. You can also watch Maria’s showreels here, produced to replace the usual Showcase whilst ArtsEd has been unable to welcome audiences. Maria said:
“I feel so honoured and privileged to have received the Chris Hornby Bursary this year. The financial support makes such a different to myself and my parents, for this we are so grateful. This bursary is so precious to me and has already supported me in so many ways in my final year of training. For the rest of my career, I will do my best to make Tim, and all the supporters of the fund, extremely proud.”
Continuing Chris’s legacy at ArtsEd
With students in greater need than ever in 2021/22, we are delighted that the Chris Hornby Bursary Fund has just enough funds left to support one more gifted young performer in their final year of study with us.
The particularly brilliant thing about Chris’s fund is that the vital financial assistance is accompanied by invaluable personal support, in the form of Tim’s expert mentoring and encouragement. We would really love to be able to continue this connection in years to come, supporting the next generation of performers and story-tellers.
If you would like to help make this happen, then please make a donation today. Every donation will make a difference, enabling future students to thrive and keeping Chris’s legacy bright.
Photography: Michael Donne, Tony Brown and Robin Savage