Birthday Fundraising Project 2017
In 2017 the Ken-Friends celebrated Kenneth Branagh's 57th birthday with a donation of $4,000 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 sale of luggage tags celebrating Kenneth's role as director and lead actor in the 2017 film Murder On the Orient Express and from additional donations by Ken-Friends.

Here is Kenneth Branagh's thank-you:

Dear Friends,

Having spent a significant amount of time this year at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, I can continue to testify to what your exceptional generosity makes possible.

I felt very proud on your behalf to hear from those whose life and work has been helped significantly by what you have given.

RADAs record on inclusion, and diversity, and engagement reveals a practical truth that your money helps enable. If people from whatever background or nation have the exceptional talent and crucially, the commitment to come here, then they will not be denied by circumstance. The incredible work being produced is the rich reward.

People in that building are proud to say thank you to the Ken Friends, and they do I make sure of it!

Its another phenomenal sum you have raised this year, that would out-swell the proudest hopes my parents could ever have imagined, had they even dreamed of being remembered in this way. Thank you.

This has been an incredible year of work for me, with Dunkirk, on screen, Hamlet on stage, and Murder On The Orient Express steaming into a cinematic station to round the year off. Ive been privileged to work with the greatest of colleagues young, and well, mature, and have learnt much from both ends of that spectrum.

None of us however could have done any of it without people like yourselves who continue to support our work, wherever it appears. I cannot express adequately how grateful I am for this. The Ken Friends have been at the forefront of that support for decades.

May I thank you sincerely for another wonderful birthday present I have already affixed my most elegant luggage labels to my cases.

Your kindness is never more striking than in the tough world we currently occupy. I hope your part of it brings you and yours great health and happiness in the New Year, and onwards.

I wish you a happy holiday, and as always count myself proud, honoured and lucky to call you, my friends.

Ken Branagh

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