One of the many things we’re trying to do with MG this year is to do more for social awareness and charities/charitable events. Flicking through our Twitter feed we found something we liked the look of. In fact, we loved it!

The Cabaret vs Cancer Ashes to Ashes show is being held on 28th February at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. It’s both a tribute to David Bowie and a night of fun and games to raise money for the fight against cancer.

Seeing as we’re going to the show and it looks like a lot of fun, we thought we’d have a little chat with its founder, Rose Thorne, and see what the charity has been up to and what awaits the crowd on show night.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Rose Thorne of Cabaret vs Cancer. 

Straight forward question to start with: how and when and where did Cabaret vs Cancer start? And what was the catalyst for it?

I started raising money for cancer charities after my mum died of cancer in 2010, she wasn’t the last person to die for this disease in my life, so the fund raising kept going.  In the summer of 2013 a joke was made online about it being time now for the Benjamin Louche naked calendar – this lit a flame and within a few hours I’d secured a photographer, models and the first All Nude Cabaret Charity Calendar was born!  We raised £4,000 and donated it straight to MacMillan and Cancer Research.

And then David Bowie died.

We staged a show in January 2016 and held an online auction raising over £6,000 – in one night!  At this stage my accountant told me we ought to apply for charity status.
It wasn’t easy, a lot of official documents were written, lots of due diligence and then it arrived – our registered number!  We had a celebration party – drank lots of gin and ate shortbread!

Who is involved with Cabaret vs Cancer?

As founder of the charity I knew I had to be supported by people who understood the aims of the charity, could support me – and challenge me.

My husband, Benjamin Louche, was the obvious choice for my first Trustee.  For my next Trustee I knew I needed a champion of cabaret, and approached friend Dusty Limits who said yes in a heartbeat!

We also have Ambassadors including Lilly Snatchdragon, Missy Malone, Bettsie Bon Bon and in Edinburgh Julie-Ann Laidlaw – as well as many more.

Plus we also have an incredible support team in London and fundraisers up and down the country.

You must have had some incredible moments since the show/charity began – what have been the best moments [both on stage and off it] of the journey so far? Also – what challenges have you faced along the way?

It’s always been important to us to support the child bereavement team at St Joseph’s and have been working them to develop support packs for children who have a parent in palliative care – we are looking forward to launching these in the Spring.

There has been a lot of tears – when Julie-Ann Laidlaw told us how much she raised at the Edinburgh Fridge just a month after we became a registered charity; standing on stage reciting the names of those who we dedicate the calendar to, and every time I empty buckets of money on the kitchen table and count up just how generous people are.

Everyone has been affected by cancer, and it’s showing very little sign of going away so we will continue to support the work of Cancer Research – their scientists are finding a chink in the armour.  Our last donation of £4,000 enabled their team to buy two diamond bladed knives which they use to cut through tumours!

I’m always impressed by how the cabaret community goes about social awareness or raising money for charities – what have the responses been from charities and audience members/supporters to your shows and endeavours?

Audiences up and down the country have been incredibly generous – they never stop digging deep and giving us their cash.

We work very closely with St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, it’s the hospice closest to our cabaret home Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club and they’ve supported the hospice for years.  It seemed the natural place for our support to go.

We provide support to the St Michael’s end of life ward, helping the hospice deliver excellent end of life care to those who need it.  We also buy worry eater toys for the child bereavement unit – these little critters have zipped mouths and we’ve heard that parents and children use them to communicate when mum or dad is going in and out of hospital – we’ve also bought lots of little super hero Lego torches for these children – the dark is always scary and having a little wonder woman or superman under your pillow can really help.

Besides the show, you have a few other things on the go to raise awareness such as your awesome calendars. Feel free to tell us about these things:

We run online auctions throughout the year, in Jan we launch our Bowie art and collectibles auction; then in May we hold our Sci-Fi auction and in summer we have our Twin Peaks auction – I’m overwhelmed at the generosity of people to donate prizes.

We’ve a show happening in June – we’ve not announced this yet, but keep looking for updates!

We’re coming to the Ashes to Ashes show on Feb 28th. Who and what can we expect to see? And what else will be going on during the evening besides the fun and games on stage?

You’re in for a treat!

We have some of the best cabaret talent in town, each having been inspired by Bowie – I’m not going to spoil any surprises but arrive early so you can get a seat; bring all your spare cash for the raffle and your debit card to buy some of our limited-edition Bowie merchandise!  And a tissue… there will be tears.

[MG: Tickets for the show here]

How can people get involved with the Cabaret vs Cancer and what can they do to help?

If you stage shows and want to collect then get in touch!  We can make sure you’ve got buckets to collect spare change, and we can help you secure raffle prizes.

You can set up a direct debit – a regular £2 (or £5) a month donation which can really make a difference to a small charity.

What is coming next for Cabaret vs Cancer in 2018?

Dusty Limits is heading up a very exciting project for late 2018 – still secret but it’s a first for Cabaret vs Cancer.  Plus, we’ve some exciting shows being planned, and are working with a team of artists to produce a series of postcards to support our 2018 motto ‘Be Inspired, Be Inspiring, Don’t be a C*nt’!

MG: We think this is has been a fantastic read! If you can, please do get along to the show on February 28th at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, London. Doors 7pm, tickets £12. You can buy Ashes to Ashes tickets here
@cabaretvscancer on IG and Twitter

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