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Griff Rhys Jones kicks off Town Hall talks

PUBLISHED: 13:46 15 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:29 07 September 2010

COMEDIAN Griff Rhys Jones is due to kick off the first of a regular series of celebrity events at Hampstead Town Hall on October 28, in association with the Ham&High. Aimed at developing a programme of events at the centre and raising money for the buildi

COMEDIAN Griff Rhys Jones is due to kick off the first of a regular series of celebrity events at Hampstead Town Hall on October 28, in association with the Ham&High.

Aimed at developing a programme of events at the centre and raising money for the building's appeal fund, he will use the opportunity to talk about the importance of heritage.

Helen Lawrence, chairman of the Friends of Hampstead Town Hall, said: "We can give interesting celebrities a platform to talk about what is important to them, and it gives us a lovely evening.

"We can kill two birds with one stone. We can raise money and utilise the hall by providing the public with an interesting event." The celebrity talks are one of many ideas being introduced to enhance the town hall's main space which is underused because of the lack of a lighting rig and sound system. They would also fund plans to make the entrance area more welcoming and "green up" the building.

Celia Greenwood, chief executive of the InterChange Trust, a social enterprise charity which runs the town hall, said: "We are hoping to create more and more public events so we can encourage the local community towards the wonderful opportunities this building has to offer.

The new scheme, Tuesdays At The Town Hall, is one of many schemes introduced by Ms Greenwood to encourage residents to stage events at no or low cost. Other events such as jazz concerts are also being mooted and would take advantage of the links with the WAC Performing Arts and Media College.

The Ham&High has supported Hampstead Town Hall, which was built in 1875, since Camden Council declared it "surplus to requirements" in 1995. But local groups led by The Heath and Hampstead Society successfully banded together to save it. A partnership was then established with the Kentish Town-based InterChange Trust, which needed new premises.

It was reopened by the Prince of Wales as a community centre in 2001 and continues under the watchful eye of the friends group, which include notable local residents including Sir Anthony Caro and Michael Palin.

Famous names are registered in the Town Hall records. They include TS Eliot, who was married there, and Elgar who went there to volunteer as a special constable in the First World War. Tickets will be available on the day for Griff Rhys Jones talk at the town hall. More details will be printed in the Ham&High next week.

They will also be available at www.interchange.org.uk/content.

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