Birthday Fundraising Project 2008

In 2008 the Ken-Friends marked Kenneth Branagh's 48th birthday with their annual fundraising project. In lieu of producing a souvenir item in tandem the fundraising (and to give our indefatigable fundraising organiser Jude a break from a living room piled high with items and mailers!) the Ken-Friends contributed their favourite poems to a collection which was bound together and presented to Kenneth, and sent along generous donations which allowed us to contribute $4,500 US to the William and Frances Branagh Memorial Bursary fund for students from Northern Ireland at Royal Aacademy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
Here is Kenneth Branagh's thank-you note:
"To all Ken Friends,

I'm sorry that it's taken me a while to respond to a birthday present that I never assume will arrive, never take for granted, and am continually astonished by. As usual, the imagination, and the AMOUNT were equally inspiring.

There was a particularly personal quality to this gift in each of its dimensions. The arrival of the Ken Friends at "Ivanov" was a real marker of that rare experience, and as I slowly unfurled wrapping paper on December 10th, I found myself seeing many of the smiling faces of the Friends who were able to make the trip to London on that night (or nights) at Wyndhams. I remember the occasion with great fondness.

Amongst the many interesting questions that I was asked that evening were various ones related to the impact on one's own life of playing a depressed character. One of my protections and insurances was quite simple. I read poetry, in my dressing room each evening, and much perused across the whole of the run, were poets whose work would provide an antidote or contrast to the world of our troubled protagonist. So to find the range of poets known, unknown, and Ken Friendian, in the magnificent tome was an absolute joy. Truly.

Thank you for all of these very personal outpourings, direct and indirect, and thank you for the immense contribution to the fund at RADA which I know makes my parents hearts swell with pride, as it does mine.

May I wish you all a happy New Year, full of health and happiness for you and yours, in these trying times. I am so grateful and proud to be your Friend,

Ken Branagh"

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