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Patrons Announced

Patrons Announced

posted 18 Nov 2020

Joseph Rowntree Theatre celebrates 85 years of being York’s community theatre and announces news of its new patrons

As part of our birthday celebrations, we're delighted to annouce three new patrons for our theatre.

David Bradley Headshot

The first is David Bradley, known to many older York residents from both his time with the Rowntree Youth Theatre and from his vast number of stage, screen and TV appearances over many decades.  To many young people, he is immediately associated with more recent roles in Harry Potter and the Game of Thrones. David has been a patron of the theatre for some time, but this is the first time we are formally announcing and celebrating the news.

Recently, in support of our latest fundraising campaign, Raise the Roof, David said, “The Joseph Rowntree Theatre has been a vital part of the city for so many years.  I know from personal experience that it has provided opportunities for so many young people, and I will always be grateful for that.  I fully support the theatre’s appeal and wish it all the best.”


Ian Kelsey Headshot   The second, newly -appointed patron is York-born actor Ian Kelsey.  Ian also honed his acting skills in his youth at the theatre, appearing in many shows produced by Rowntree Youth Theatre. It was here that he caught the acting bug, and, following a stint working at the York railway carriage works, went on to follow his dreams and applied to drama school. The rest is history, as he has been a regular on our TV screens ever since in multiple drama series, including Blue Murder, Coronation Street, Doctors, Casualty and Emmerdale.
Frances Simon Headshot Our third patron is local actress and drama teacher, Frances Simon. Frances is London-born and moved to York with her family fourteen years ago. She has been a great supporter of the venue, attending many shows over the years and teaching many of the youngsters who have appeared on the theatre’s stage. A passionate advocate of the benefits of theatre to young people, she runs a drama school which nurtures young talent.

Whilst the theatre is looking back and celebrating all of the successes of the last 85 years, it is also looking ahead to the future.  During the summer, we launched its Raise the Roof campaign to help raise £90,000 towards the cost of repairing our roofs, which have lasted for 85 years without needing any major repairs until now. 

During the course of this campaign, a new volunteer took ont he role of our Young Ambassador, Hannah Wakelam. At only 20 years old, Hannah has helped raise hundreds of pounds for Raise the Roof and initiated some brilliant fundraising projects. She organised Yorkshire’s Got Talent and is in the process of selling tickets for a grand Christmas raffle, to be drawn on 5th December. We hope that more young people like Hannah will come forward, inspired by the opportunities that the theatre gives them, both on and off the stage.

Please share your memories, stories, anecdotes and photos with us as we continue to celebrate 85 years of our beautiful community theatre.


Every penny helps the Joseph Rowntree Theatre throughout these uncertain times. While we are not as free to go out and spend money on things like coffee and cakes, glass of wine or beer, and generally eating out and socialising, why not donate the money you’ve saved to support our community theatre. Even if we only put a couple of pounds a week away it would all add up and make a massive difference. The theatre has been here for 85 years. Let's see it have 85 more.