THE Berwick Kaler Foundation will aim to raise £200,000 in two years to bring together York Theatre Royal and the community.

As Berwick's 40-year reign as pantomime dame comes to an end on February 2, the Theatre Royal has launched a fund to celebrate and continue his legacy.

"The Berwick Kaler Foundation will enable us to bring families, friends and communities together to share experiences and enjoy theatre in all its many forms," said executive director Tom Bird.

"We want our pantomime audiences and our whole community to support the Berwick Kaler Foundation and help us to grow the York Theatre Royal family.

"The theatre strives to be a place where everyone feels they are welcome and that they belong. We want to be accessible to all. We want our community to have a stake in what we do. We want to continue to engage, inspire and excite."

The Sylvia and Colin Shepherd Charitable Trust, long-standing supporters of the Theatre Royal, has started the Berwick Kaler Foundation with a donation to support the St Leonard's Place theatre's work across the year in the community, particularly for children and young people.

Berwick, whose final pantomime The Grand Old Dame Of York marks his 40th anniversary as the dame, will be the foundation's patron and figurehead and his role will include hosting fund-raising activities.

One of the foundation's first roles will be funding the Access All Areas project for 12 months at a cost of £3,800. This project prioritises disadvantaged young people: people who do not already engage with York Theatre Royal, sometimes on account of social, cultural or financial barriers.

Access All Areas is a free provision that is referral only and transport costs can be supported. All children are from York and surrounding areas; at present 15 are attending the weekly group.

The project helps the young people progress into mainstream youth theatre, community shows such as 2017's Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes and the annual TakeOver festival, which then allows new members to join the small supported group. Previously, the project has been funded by the Ed De Nunzio Charitable Trust.

The Berwick Kaler Foundation Fund also will support a £12,000 transport project around this June's production of Driving Miss Daisy. This will involve providing transport to and from the theatre through charities supporting older people in York.

Donations to the foundation can be made through the Theatre Royal box office; at contactless donation points in the theatre; online at and by contacting the development team on 01904 715460 or at

Charles Hutchinson