|Kidz R Us Director Phil Barnett to Receive British Empire Medal|
Kidz R Us Director Phil Barnett has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen's Birthday Honours list, announced today.
The medal rewards an achievement or contribution of a very 'hands-on' service to a local community, taking the form of sustained commitment in support of a local charity and/or voluntary activity. Phil's award is for the 18 years' devotion, leadership and creative inspiration he has given to our St Ives-based youth theatre company.
This year marks the first time in nearly 20 years the BEM has been presented, having been revived by Prime Minister David Cameron to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. John Major scrapped the honour in 1993, but in 2012 around 300 BEMs will be awarded to grassroots volunteers and innovators.
Phil Barnett co-founded Kidz R Us with Margaret Banfield in December 1993, following a one-off children's concert organised to raise funds for Save the Children. Since then, Phil has volunteered his time and skill to developing the theatre group and bringing through countless young people to experience the performing arts. In St Ives and the community, he has become synonymous with the company, recruiting parents, volunteers and local businesses to the Kidz R Us cause.
In the last 18 years, Kidz R Us has gone from strength to strength, securing its own theatre, a former Wesleyan chapel in the heart of St Ives, and producing more than 60 high quality shows. We have performed in London's West End and at Cornwall's cliff-top Minack Theatre, and won numerous awards.
Phil Barnett says: 'I'm so thrilled to receive this award. The honour means a great deal to me, as does the honour of working with so many talented young people over the years. It's been so rewarding to see our members giving so much, on stage and off, growing in confidence and learning new skills. Some of these young people come from difficult backgrounds and it's been a privilege to get them working as a team with a common focus. But I couldn't have done any of this, and certainly wouldn't have received this award, without the support of a network of volunteers, who keep Kidz R Us running from day to day.
'In recent years, given the economic climate, we have had to work harder and harder to bring in audiences and stay on our feet financially, and at the moment have no external funding. This year, our summer season has something for everyone: The Sound of Music (which played to sell-out crowds at the Minack over the June half-term), Evita and the Dr Seuss-inspired Seussical the Musical. First-time visitors to our shows are always amazed at the talent and range of our performers. So if you're in St Ives this summer, make sure you get along to one of our shows!'
Phil will be presented with the British Empire Medal later this year by the Lord-Lieutenant of Cornwall, Colonel Edward Bolitho OBE.