National Friendly and The Bristol Hippodrome expand award winning charity fundraiser partnership, new schools workshops to feature


National Friendly and The Bristol Hippodrome have announced a substantial initiative of their community support and unveiled new ambitious plans to raise funds for a Bristol charity. The centrepiece is a new 12 month partnership for their award winning “Matinee Mingle” events, which are designed to combat loneliness in the community.

The theatre noticed that in the past, several hundred customers purchased a single senior rate ticket. As a result, The Bristol Hippodrome launched the “Matinee Mingle”, which aims to bring together theatre lovers aged 60 and above who would have otherwise attended shows alone, giving them the chance to make new friends and meet like-minded people. Matinee Mingle began in collaboration with LinkAge Network and Age UK Bristol, two Bristol local charities which empower older people to lead fulfilling and satisfying lives. The charities merged in April 2020 under one name Age UK Bristol and LinkAge will continue as a recognisable service within Age UK Bristol.

National Friendly will now build on its important contribution which helped to get the Matinee Mingle established and it will now be the lead sponsor of the event for the next 12 months at least.

Announcing the enhanced partnership, Steve Jones, The Bristol Hippodrome’s Head of Marketing & Communications said, “We are delighted to be continuing and growing our partnership with National Friendly, who have been an important part of the Bristol community for over 150 years. They are an organisation whose ethos is to help people to prepare for life’s contingencies and so the expanded “Matinee Mingle” represents an important milestone for our two organisations, as we strive to give back to the communities which have supported us both.”

A wide range of important charity initiatives will link in to the headline agreement. National Friendly’s previous charity of the year, Southmead Hospital Charity, will benefit from a range of joint fundraising initiatives to take place in and around The Bristol Hippodrome, with a fundraising target of £30,000 set. The initiatives will support the hospital’s leading research into Long-Covid.

Kurtis Reece, National Friendly’s PR & Strategic Partnerships executive explains, “Last time we collaborated with Southmead Hospital Charity in 2019 to support their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), we raised £26,500, so a target this year to raise £30,000 seems both realistic and achievable.”

“Fundraising competitions will take place during the pantomime season, which will be publicised via Southmead Hospital Charity’s website and the Hippodrome’s 150,000 plus social media followers,” added Reece.

Adrian Brown, Southmead Hospital Charity’s Community & Events Manager comments, “Donations from the local community – whether groups, individuals or dedicated businesses like National Friendly – sit at the very heart of our fundraising.

“The money raised will be used to support vital research into the impact of Long-Covid, the symptoms of which can be wide-ranging, long-lasting, and life-changing. Our researchers are working with the first group of Covid-19 patients involved in a study, which means their findings are particularly vital for understanding the long-term effects of this virus. National Friendly has already raised an incredible amount and we are so grateful for the support and care that the whole team at National Friendly continue to show the staff and patients here at Southmead Hospital.”

The family friendly Hippodrome draws its audiences from Bristol and the surrounding five counties, so boasts an impressive footprint in the community at large.

New schools workshop programme

National Friendly and The Bristol Hippodrome have also announced an important and wide ranging Bristol schools workshop programme to give students a unique opportunity to develop and build their communications skills in collaboration with theatre experts.

The Bristol Hippodrome’s Creative Learning and Communities Programme will offer in-school workshop’s for classes of up to 30 people to develop critical thinking, communications and creative thinking skills. The Bristol Hippodrome will use well known and successful drama practitioners to lead workshops, with the content designed to fit and bring to life the school’s existing learning objectives.

Kurtis Reece adds “The education of pupils is now under serious pressure due to the pandemic. As a result, it is the most vulnerable children from disadvantaged backgrounds who are most at risk. We have taken the opportunity to help schools shape the future for young people by developing new creative ways of delivering learning and support which will not only benefit the pupils but both teachers and parents as well.”

Ben Phillips, The Bristol Hippodrome’s Theatre Director ends, “Creative partnerships such as this between National Friendly and The Bristol Hippodrome illustrate perfectly how successful local businesses can come together with established and world renowned arts organisations to add opportunity and real benefits to the communities they serve. We are delighted that our Creative Learning and Communities Programme will be made available to more schools and we’re honoured to be able to help National Friendly with their fundraising for an organisation so cherished locally as Southmead Hospital Charity.”

The Matinee Mingle is free to attend for those aged 60 and above and takes place an hour before selected mid-week matinee performances in The Bristol Hippodrome’s Piano Bar. Members need to purchase their ticket for the show they wish to see by calling 0844 871 7615* or and then book their space.

Please email for available ‘Mingle’ dates. (max. 20 per mingle)

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National Friendly is a trading name of National Deposit Friendly Society Limited. Registered office: 11-12 Queen Square, Bristol BS1 4NT. Registered in England and Wales no. 369F. National Deposit Friendly Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Our Financial Services Register number is 110008. You can check this at: National Deposit Friendly Society Limited is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and Financial Ombudsman Service.