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I adore Chickenshed! I stumbled upon them quite by accident. In 1990, my three daughters were 12, 10, and 7 years old. My youngest daughter has Down syndrome, and I lived in a village just outside High Wycombe where people had little exposure to individuals with Down syndrome, including myself. Emma was seen as unique in our community. Back then, children with Down syndrome didn't attend mainstream schools or activities. To provide Emma with the same opportunities as her sisters, I had to join various clubs and associations, such as the Parents' Association, gym clubs, girl guides, and swimming clubs (even though I couldn't swim, which was quite daunting). It was during this time that someone told me about Chickenshed, an inclusive theatre company that invited people from all walks of life to come together and perform on stage. I must admit, I was skeptical, and the fact that Chickenshed was located in Palmer's Green, while I lived in High Wycombe, didn't pique my interest. Palmer's Green seemed like a world away!

However, after incessantly expressing my frustration about Emma being separated from other children, a friend gifted me a ticket to see a Chickenshed show at the Shaw Theatre in London. Honestly, my intention was to see what other individuals with Down syndrome were like, as I couldn't find positive role models in High Wycombe. As I sat in the auditorium, I became transfixed by the performance. I fell in love with Chickenshed right then and there. I forgot to look for Down syndrome because I was captivated by the incredible music, dance, and singing. It was the best thing I had ever seen on a stage. Six months later, I attended my second Chickenshed show, again in London. This time, it was a more adult-oriented performance called "The Attraction." As I sat in the auditorium, the lights dimmed, and a beautiful requiem played by a live band filled the air. Spotlights danced across the stage and into the audience. I was filled with excitement, and my heart skipped a beat. I was spellbound, captivated, and mesmerized for the entire two hours. Once again, I forgot to search for Down syndrome. Instead, I witnessed a magical, powerful, and breathtaking show. I was hooked!

I decided to reach out to the founders, Mary and Jo, and they kindly invited me to observe their workshops in a church hall in Palmer's Green. Since then, for the past 30 years, I have been bundling my girls into the car with their evening meal on their laps to attend Chickenshed. In a previous life, before having children, I trained to be a medical secretary, which taught me shorthand and typing. However, I didn't really fit the mould of a typical secretary. I then worked as a travel agent, which in some ways resembles working in a theatre. My task back then was to fill planes, but now I strive to fill a theatre!

My official job title is Press and PR Manager, which accurately describes my role. However, I believe my true title should be someone who talks, enthuses, gushes, and tirelessly works to bring people to our theatre. This isn't just a job; it is a passion and a love. My purpose in life is to spread the word about Chickenshed and how it changes lives. It transformed my life and the lives of my daughters, and it continues to do so.

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