On Tuesday 10 February, our Young Company Ambassador and a member of our Volunteering team took a trip to London to meet HM The Queen.

HM The Queen gave a wonderful reception to celebrate the Patronages and Affiliations of The Earl and Countess of Wessex, which saw HM The Queen meet supporters, staff, volunteers & alumnus from the charities. In total 375 representatives of charities and organisations supported by The Earl & Countess of Wessex, which includes the Royal Exchange Theatre, gathered in the Ballroom for drinks and canapes.

BuckinghamPalaceBallroom600

Along with Executive Director Fiona Gasper and Development Director Val Young, two invaluable members of the Royal Exchange Theatre also undertook the trip to the capital - Volunteer Anne Fitzpatrick and Young Company Ambassador Dean Gregory - with the latter actually meeting HM The Queen in person. 

Dean Gregory with HM The QueenFiona, Anne & Dean at Palace

"There were 325 people present and I was honoured to be chosen along with 11 others to have a private audience with the Queen. I was ushered into a large room along with celebrities and actors such as Sheridan Smith and Matt Lucas who represented the National Theatre. Everyone in the room was lovely and made me feel welcome. Several of them were nervous which put me at ease. Her Majesty along with the Earl and Countess of Wessex shook hands with everyone and the Queen asked me about the RET, the Young Company and my performance in Hamlet. It was a proud and memorable experience. It was a privilege to represent the RET in my first role as ambassador."

Dean Gregory was a member of the Royal Exchange Theatre's Young Company where he performed in several projects including Mockingbird Academy, My Young and Foolish Heart and After Black Roses, as well as in the community ensembles for Cannibals and The Last Days of Troy. Dean was also a John Thaw Trainee, during which time he received twelve months of mentoring and guidance from the theatre on career development. Recently he was cast in the main house production of Hamlet alongside Maxine Peake. Over his time with the theatre Dean has developed from a participant to a professional actor. He now acts as a Young Company Ambassador, which supports the work of the company at the theatre and at external events, championing opportunities for young people to create their own work, as well as gaining valuable experiences in a producing theatre.

"As a volunteer Friend of the theatre I was proud to be part of the group representing the Royal Exchange at Prince Edward's charities' reception at Buckingham Palace.  Mingling with lots of interesting people representing a variety of worthy charities was an enjoyable and rewarding experience" 

Anne Fitzpatrick has been a Friend since the 1980s and began to volunteer in 1995. Anne devotes a regular one day per week to RET, assisting with Friends membership correspondence and payments. She was a vital assistant in the two years after the bomb, 1996, working alongside the Friends Organiser in various venues across the city to keep the Friends Organisation alive and she assisted the Archives Volunteer in the difficult job of getting the Archives sorted after the bomb and the flooding that occurred afterwards.

If you'd like to know more about supporting the work the Royal Exchange Theatre does, please see our Support Us section, or donate now here.