Virtual Proms at St Jude’s raises £18,000 for charities

Nicholas Collon and Cedric Tiberghien

Nicholas Collon and Cedric Tiberghien - Credit: Archant

Hampstead Gardens Suburb’s annual arts festival went ahead this month with a reduced programme of concerts, walks, book talks and children’s events

Lucrezia Walker wife of St Jude's vicar Alan Walker hosting one of the literary talks at the virtual

Lucrezia Walker wife of St Jude's vicar Alan Walker hosting one of the literary talks at the virtual Proms at St Jude's - Credit: Archant

When the board of trustees for the Proms at St Jude’s decided to cancel this year’s festival “things looked bleak”.

“It looked as though we might not survive,” says spokesman Ron Finlay.

Fortunately, most of the community festival’s artists and suppliers agreed to waive cancellation fees - and friends and supporters gave generously to help them through the crisis.

“Once we realised we could make ends meet, our thoughts turned to our partner charities, Toynbee Hall and the North London Hospice, which were suffering badly, and to our audience, many of whom faced being locked down at home for months. What could we do to help?”

The solution was to stage Proms at Home, an online programme that included a walk around Hampstead Garden Suburb that could be followed in person or on a podcast from your armchair.

A children’s Treasure Hunt, lit-fest talks with Ballymaloe Cookery School chef Darina Allen in conversation with Radio Four’s Sheila Dillon, and a concert by two of the talented Kanneh-Mason family from their living room were among the highlights.

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A Teeny Prom for under fives, and a talk by composer Patrick Hawes and his librettist brother Andrew on the Proms commission to mark the 80th anniversary of the sinking of the SS City of Benares, with singing by VOCES8 followed.

That commission will now have its world première at Proms 2021.

Lucrezia Walker, the wife of St Jude’s vicar Alan Walker, spoke to Ben Lewis about his book the Last Leonardo, and suburb author Claire Calman was joined by her author sister Stephanie to discuss their work.

An Aurora Orchestra concert, recorded pre-lockdown at King’s Place, preceded by an interview with conductor Nicholas Collon, and a Last Night Encore from inside St Jude’s with Nicholas Chalmers on organ and tenor Laurence Kilsby rounded things off.

Audiences were encouraged to donate into a charity bucket and have so far raised £18,000. But there is still time to donate. Most events are still available on YouTube until September 30 by booking free of charge through

“Coronavirus permitting, we look forward to being back live again from 26 June to 4 July 2021,” said Ron Finlay.