Click here for The Ken-Friends Birthday Projects 1997-2019


Birthday Fundraising Project 2020

In 2020 the Ken-Friends celebrated Kenneth Branagh's 60th birthday with a donation of $4,400 US, raised to support students from Northern Ireland under The William & Frances Branagh Memorial Award at the Royal Aacademy of Dramatic Art (RADA). The sum collected came from the proceeds of a series of online auctions on the Ken-Friends mailing list offering items related to Kenneth Branagh's artistic production over the many years of his career and from additional donations by Ken-Friends. The Ken-Friends total contribution to RADA over the years has amounted to $62,126, with $58,577 going to the Branagh bursary.

Here is Kenneth Branagh's thank-you

Dear Friends,

It is often in a wet and windy January, (like the day today), where I get the chance to fully savour and appreciate the astonishing kindness of the birthday tributes paid by the Ken Friends.

So, it is this year, in which the first response I find myself having, as I once again view this rich collection of messages, is ďHow on earth are you all?Ē.

Itís been such a heck of a year for everyone, that it really seems remarkable that you found the resources to make yet another massive donation to funds at RADA (never more needed or appreciated), and also have space in your minds and hearts, to offer me such generous advice and support.
I appreciate both deeply. Thank you.

And I very, very much hope that you and yours, have coped and are coping with the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, with as much joy (and good health), as you can find.
All of your individual messages, all of which I have read with great pleasure, I found inspiring.

A constant theme was the instruction to do work that makes me happy, that I care about, that follows my own heart.
This I have done, treading as warily through our Covid world as I could.

The result is a film called BELFAST, which is as personal as such things can be, and as deeply from the heart as such things can be, and (mixed in with some of lifeís tough experiences), comes with as much joy as can be.

Pandemics allowing, it should arrive in cinemas around the world, in the second half of 2021. I worked with a very special group of collaborators and Iím extremely proud of the film that we managed to produce. I hope you will like it, and I hope that as it rolls out around the Globe (fingers crossed), I may have the chance to encounter some, or all of you personally, somewhere on its travels. I would love that.

It will be in the company of DEATH ON THE NILE, which is a wonderful story from Miss Christie, realised beautiful in a screenplay by Michael Green, and served up by a tip-top cast. It is available in 70mm to watch on the big screen, and once again, I hope it will make its appearance in the second half of the year, at a cinema near you.

I note with pleasure many requests from you for more Shakespeare, with Lear and Prospero at the top of the lists, but with Iím pleased to say, plenty of requests for comedy; Bardic or otherwise. I reckon this is what the world may need a little of right now, so I shall look to pull out my comedy shoes and see if these boots are still made for walking.

Writing BELFAST has most definitely woken my desire to write more, and I was also encouraged by the many Ken Friends who wanted to see that happening too.

If we can just manage to squeeze more hours into the day, maybe weíll manage it all! What's certain is that we shall have some fun trying, and despite the numbers now associated with me in the form of a six and a zero, I am still working very much along the lines of believing that if I feel 23 years old (I do), then anythingís possible. (Note to self - good theory - just donít look in the mirror too early in the day).
Thank you again, Friends.
This can seem like a darkish time for the world.
On my sixtieth Birthday, your kindness, support, love, generosity, and all-round good-eggness made my part of it, quite a bit lighter.
A Happy New Year to you all, from your friend, Ken


Since 1998 the Ken-Friends have have donated a grand total of $105,553 to Kenneth Branagh's charities and organisations. Not a bad accomplishment for our small "band of brothers".


The Ken-Friends Birthday Projects 1997-2019

In 1997 the Ken-Friends mailing list sent Kenneth Branagh an album made up of postcards members had sent from their locations all over the world.

This was the genesis for an expanded project in 1998 which saw the production of a Ken-Friends t-shirt and an associated fundraising effort. The money raised - $2,869 - was donated to the Ulster Association of Youth Drama, an organisation Kenneth has supported over a number of years, and the project coordinator, Jude Tessel, had the privilege of giving Kenneth his present in person. Read all about it and see the photos.

In 1999 a new t-shirt, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the release of Henry V, was designed and produced, culminating in a donation of $4,554 US. Get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2000 a pin, conceived in part to allow Ken-Friends who had never physically met to recognise each other (an alternative to "I'll be standing in front of the main doors holding a copy of Beginning"), was designed and produced and a donation of $7,920 US was raised. Get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2001 the Ken-Friends designed and produced a keychain ("t'is in my memory locked") which, along with a series of auctions of Branagh-related items held within the Ken-Friends mailing list helped to raise funds for our chosen charity. The amount raised this year was $5,303 US Get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2002 Kenneth Branagh's long-awaited return to the stage and the good times of the Ken-Friends Big Day Out in Sheffield in March 2002 were captured in the mug produced for the birthday fundraiser. Through this and other fundraising events a total of $7,701 US was raised and donated to UAYD, RADA and the Over the Wall Gang. Read details here.

In 2003 the Ken-Friends combined their annual birthday fundraising effort with a nod to The Play What I Wrote, with a handsome themed t-shirt. The generosity of participants allowed the Ken-Friends to send $3,530 US to Ulster Association of Youth Drama for the 2004 Ken-Friends bursaries. Get details, see the shirt and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2004 the fifteenth anniversary of the release of Kenneth Branagh's stunning film Henry V was celebrated by the Ken-Friends in their annual birthday fundraising effort with a commemorative mug. The generosity of participants allowed the Ken-Friends to send $4,626 US to Ulster Association of Youth Drama for the 2005 Ken-Friends bursaries. See the mug, get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2005 the Ken-Friends marked the tenth anniversary of the release of the delightful Kenneth Branagh film In the Bleak Midwinter/A Midwinter's Tale by producing a "Midwinter" ornament for their annual birthday fundraising effort. The generosity of participants allowed the Ken-Friends to send $3,220 US to the Ulster Association of Youth Drama for the 2006 Ken-Friends bursaries. See the ornament, get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2006 the Ken-Friends fundraising activity paid hommage to the 10th anniversary of the release of Kenneth Branagh's film Hamlet. The design and production of a bookmark allowed us to send $3,275 US to Project Shakespeare, to take a group of Catholic and Protestant children from Northern Ireland to Stratford. See the bookmark, get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2007 the Ken-Friends fundraising activity marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Renaissance Theatre Company. The design and production of a tote bag allowed us to send $4,977 US to Project Shakespeare for their annual student activities. See the tote bag, get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2008 the Ken-Friends marked Kenneth Branagh's 48th birthday with a bound collection of their favourite poems and a donation of $4,500 to the William and Frances Branagh Memorial Bursary fund for students from Northern Ireland. Get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2009 the Ken-Friends returned to the always popular t-shirt for their annual fundraising project, this time to celebrate Kenneth Branagh's 49th birthday, raising a total of $4,728. See the t-shirt, get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2010 the Ken-Friends decided to celebrate Kenneth Branagh's 50th birthday with a donation of $5,293 US to the William and Frances Branagh Memorial Bursary fund for students from Northern Ireland, and also with a special donation of $728 US to name a seat in the newly refurbished Lyric Theatre in Belfast in Kenneth's honour. Get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2011 Kenneth Branagh's 51st birthday was marked by the Ken-Friends with a donation of $4,051 US for students from Northern Ireland through the William and Frances Branagh Memorial Bursary fund at the Royal Aacademy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Get details and learn about Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2012 the Ken-Friends celebrated Kenneth Branagh's 52nd birthday with a donation of $5,806 US to the William and Frances Branagh Memorial Bursary fund at the Royal Aacademy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Get details and learn about Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2013 Kenneth Branagh's 53rd birthday was marked by the Ken-Friends with a sum of $5,000 US donated to the William and Frances Branagh Memorial Bursary fund at the Royal Aacademy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

In 2014 the Ken-Friends honoured Kenneth Branagh's 54th birthday with a donation of $5,400 US to the the William and Frances Branagh Memorial Bursary fund destined for students from Northern Ireland studying at the Royal Aacademy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2015 the Ken-Friends celebrated Kenneth Branagh's 55th birthday with a donation of $3,200 US, raised to support students from Northern Ireland under The William & Frances Branagh Memorial Award at the Royal Aacademy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2016 Kenneth Branagh's 56th birthday was marked by the Ken-Friends with a sum of $4,000 US donated to the William and Frances Branagh Memorial Bursary fund at the Royal Aacademy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2017 Kenneth Branagh's 57th birthday was marked by the Ken-Friends with a sum of $4,000 US donated to the William and Frances Branagh Memorial Bursary fund at the Royal Aacademy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2018 Kenneth Branagh's 58th birthday was marked by the Ken-Friends with a sum of $3,500 US donated to the William and Frances Branagh Memorial Bursary fund at the Royal Aacademy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.

In 2019 the Ken-Friends celebrated Kenneth Branagh's 59th birthday with a donation of $3,700 US, raised to support students from Northern Ireland under The William & Frances Branagh Memorial Award at the Royal Aacademy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Get details and read Kenneth's thank-you here.


Kenneth dispenses pearls of wisdom to a Renaissance Award winner

Kenneth recieves pearls of wisdom from a Renaissance Award winner
Ohmigosh! The now-famous Susan Lynch!