Two years ago Colin Ford, a retired museum director from Finchley, was so impressed with the care his mother Helen had received at the Grace House residential care home in North Finchley that, after she died, he asked his friends to help him raise funds for the home. His friends just happened to be Timothy West, Prunella Scales and Stephen Thorne, three great names in British TV and theatre.
The result is an evening of poetry, prose and laughter at artsdepot, based around the Seven Ages of Man monologue from Shakespeare’s As You Like It - from infant through to death, with the famous trio reading from their favourite stories, poems and plays that cover each of the stages of life.
"To get actors of this calibre in our local theatre is quite a coup," says Colin, who got to know many theatrical people through the Garrick Club, the private West End actors' club. "Grace House is doing such a wonderful job but the struggle for money that small charities have is terrifying, so even drawing attention to them like this all helps."
Stephen Thorne, who lives in North Finchley, has starred in Doctor Who, Z-Cars and Crossroads and was the voice of Aslan in the 1979 animated version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Prunella Scales is best known as Sybil in the classic Fawlty Towers and her husband Timothy West has had numerous great stage and TV roles and starred in The Day of the Jackal, The Thirty Nine Steps and Cry Freedom.
To help with the fundraising, another of Colin’s famous friends, Quentin Blake, has donated for auction a picture that he drew especially for the cause, worth an estimated £1,000, of an old man holding a small child in his arms that captures the theme of the evening. Colin’s wife, Sue Grayson Ford, runs the National Campaign for Drawing, of which Quentin is a patron.
"I’ve known Tim and Pru for more than 40 years," says Colin. "They’ve done other things before in aid of charity and they’ve embraced it with great enthusiasm."
Grace House will put the funds raised from the evening towards much needed building work. "They looked after my mother so amazingly," remembers Colin. "I’d had to move her from a couple of other places because I wasn’t happy with how she was being looked after. She was at Grace House for four or five years and it feels like being guests in somebody’s home."
With Good Grace: An Easter Garland will be at artsdepot, Tally Ho Corner, Nether Street, North Finchley on Sunday, April 15 at 7pm. Details: 020 8369 5454, www.artsdepot.co.uk, www.christiancaretrust.org