All singing and all dancing club

Performing Arts Club in Gainsborough.  Pictured with volunteers and members is founding members Sue Craig and Richard Craig G120529-2c
Performing Arts Club in Gainsborough. Pictured with volunteers and members is founding members Sue Craig and Richard Craig G120529-2c

Gotta sing, gotta dance...

Children of all abilities are getting the chance to shine on stage thanks to a Gainsborough club.

Performing Arts Club St John’s has been running for six years and doesn’t hold auditions for membership.

Secretary Sue Craig said: “We have some children with behavioural issues, dyslexia, ADHD and other problems.”

“We find it definitely helps them to improve their focus and improves their confidence.”

“For those on the autistic spectrum it also helps with social contact, they learn to mix and join in.”

The club is a bit of a family affair for Sue, with six of her family being involved.

Her son Richard, who teaches music technology at Gainsborough High School, is the chairman and musical director and his two children are members.

His 15-year-old daughter Hannah and her 19-year-old cousin Gabi Chesham have been taking part since the club started.

Sue said the idea to set up PACS, as it is known, came about when Richard was talking to Marcus Hammond, whose company owns the arts centre X-Church on Ashcroft Road.

“He knew Richard through school and asked him if he would be interested in starting something, so we decided to give it a go.”

“We’ve now got 27 children involved, all from the Gainsborough area, and there are about 40 of us altogether, with volunteers and helpers.”

“We’ve grown through word of mouth.”

“We normally do three concerts a year and one big show, along with other events like at Christmas.”

The youngsters’ next appearance will be at Gainsborough Riverside Festival on 16th June, when they will be doing a song and dance showcase.

PACS’ choreographer and drama director is Helen Hemstock who has written a show based on The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which will be the club’s big show in November.

Sue said: “We make sure everybody gets included and Helen will work to their strengths, so if somebody is good at acting and not so good at singing, she will work round that.”

Club members practise twice a week, on Mondays from 7-9pm at St John’s Ambulance Brigade, Spital Terrace, and on Saturdays from 1.30-4.30pm at the United Reformed Church, on Church Street.

“We only charge £1.50 a week, to cover the rent, and for that they get five hours of rehearsal time. We want to make it affordable for everyone,” said Sue.

PACS has received local support from Coun Mick Tinker, who donated £150 of his allowance to buy the children their distinctive red T-shirts from Elite Workwear, and from Coun Pat O’Connor who donated £500 from his allowance to help the group buy new equipment.

PACS also has links with the RSPB at Beckingham Marshes which gave them a small grant. In return the club put on a show for them at the Willow Works oppositve the nature reserve.

The club also supports the Silver Arts Award Scheme for teenagers aged 14-19 who spend a year helping younger members.

For more information go to