Phase - 2018 Variety Express beneficiary

What's our story?

Like all things we began small in 2002. Churches Together in Hitchin (CTH) campaigned, prayed and fundraised to employ our first Schools Worker. In the beginning, we opened with a vision to provided RE lessons, assemblies and lunch groups as an opportunity to be the face of CTH within Hitchin schools. We started with a focus on Hitchin Boys School and began building a solid foundation and reputation for the organisation.

Over the next few years our reputation grew and in late 2006 we received a large anonymous donation. Enter our new Director. With this new momentum, we were able to extend our work into all three Hitchin secondary schools and increased our provision to schools which included mentoring students and delivering 6th form enrichment programmes.

In 2008 we took over the chairing of the Forum and together we had our very first residential - Slum Survivor. A fantastic weekend involving 36 young people from local churches and schools, where we lived in slums, experienced poverty and managed to raise over £3000 for Soul Action.
We pick up speed in the next few years and extend our work into primary schools, working with year 6's to help them navigate the transition to secondary school. We also increase our range of work within secondary schools to include key issues such as self-harm. Our work with the Forum continues and develops with regular town-wide events, summer camps and Time Trek our holiday club for primary school children as well as regular training for youth and children's workers called Fuel.

In April 2015 we welcomed two of our wonderful volunteers onto our staff team. Amanda Maylin as our Office Manager and Donna Wade as our Self-harm worker.

In Sept 2016 we made a few changes to our model and we gained two new staff members. One Schools and Youth Worker (shared with Walworth Road Baptist church) to further our connection and work within the community and a Wellbeing Developmental lead to help us develop our new promote strategy within schools. We now work within and alongside nearly all the schools within Hitchin (Primary and secondary).

And we're just getting started...


LifeGeta - 2018 Variety Express beneficiary

What is Lifegeta?

Lifegeta is a support network for all types’ people with life changing acquired conditions & diagnosis and their family, carers & friends.

We look at the emotional effects of finding yourself in a body that doesn’t do what it used to do because of a life changing condition or disability (like brain injury or stroke) or diagnosis (like MS or fibromyalgia and depression).

We’re told that physical exercise is good for your mental and emotional health, but what if your body can’t exercise!

At Lifegeta we believe that talking, discussion, self development groups and workshops can make a difference in getting 'YOU' back on track.

We have monthly meetings and are on Facebook & Twitter

I truly believe that YOU have to be emotionally ready before you can be expected to 'fight' for your rights (like benefits etc.)
The motive behind starting a ‘Disability and how to survive it’ type group, is that for years after my stroke I struggled to 'adapt' to my new life as a disabled' person (inside 'I' was screaming 'I'm Sue! I'm still in here', but on the outside I felt like people only seemed to see a person, or should I say a 'symptom in a wheelchair'. That's one of the main reasons I decided to retrain as a counsellor, coach, trainer, it helped me and if I can enable people to get past the plateau/ depression that may come after sudden disability then it's all been worthwhile. ~ Sue Ross (Lifegeta Founder)

Some of the issue that we look at are:

Anxiety, Panic & Fear of trying because of the fear of failure fear of finding yourself in a body that feels alien to you: the fear connected with the belief that ‘you can’t do what you used to’, the fear of not feeling in control of your own future, feeling that you’ve had to hand over your life to others because you can no longer physically do things. The fear of going out because of being in crowds and the fear of falling. The fear of it happening again. Toileting (one of mine, I remember thinking “26 and I can’t even hold my own bladder!”… The list is endless in a way, but it depends on the group dynamics to account their fears. Face the fear and do it anyway!

Self Esteem – this is an area that seems to get wiped out when you suddenly find yourself ‘un-able’. Self-doubt is a big factor in believing what ‘you do’ is important to your mental state and therefore your recovery.

Self Confidence – being outwardly confident in your abilities and your belief that you can make a difference.

Self-esteem is internal feelings, and self-confidence is the outward expression of those feelings. For instance, you may know that you are really smart. Internally, you process this fact and gain self-esteem in the area of knowledge

Understanding what’s going on, and challenging stereotypes ‘why am I like this?’ – With the help of two outside speakers in Brain Injury and Mental health.
“I believe that knowledge and self-development is a key factor in being able to move forward” ~ Sue


If you would like to contact us, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Our new producers, Lee and Dawn Perrott also have their own dance school!

They teach Ballroom, Latin and Street dance and can even cheoreograph your wedding dance!


How it all began...

Written by our musical director; Geoff Page

Almost 50 years ago, as a founder member of BYO (Baldock Youth Organisation), I played piano for my first show. BYO was formed when the four church youth clubs (Congregational, Methodist, Catholic and Anglican) attended a meeting (I can’t recall what the purpose of the meeting was!). It was the first time the four church youth groups had met and it seemed a good opportunity to talk about getting together. So after much discussion, it was decided to form a new group for those who were interested from the four youth clubs, this new group we named “Baldock Youth Organisation” (BYO), a further meeting for the newly formed group was arranged to decide what we could do for the town (chaired by Terry Gray)
  1. We would organise working parties to do jobs for the town’s elderly, eg gardening, decorating, etc
  2. We decided (as we had a pianist!) to put on a concert for the town’s over 60’s which we staged at the Secondary school hall (now Knights Templar)
The show was successful, so we decided to stage the same show for the public the following April. This we did for 3 or 4 years until BYO membership started to decline, some members emigrating, some going to Uni, and some, like me, getting too old to be a youth!
Around 1969, a few members of BYO joined forces with “The Happy Players”, a fairly small group who were putting on entertainment at homes for the elderly in the area. The BYO members eventually ceased to. As the Happy Players grew, we were soon putting on productions similar to today’s at venue’s such as Hitchin Town Hall with Keith Watson as compare. A talented guy! We were also putting on small shows at village halls, homes for the elderly, etc. Some of the piano’s I encountered were unplayable (no keyboard in those days!) so I carried a guitar with me to strum if the piano was bad. In one December we had a small show nearly every night, with two on a Saturday! I think we did 24 that month, madness! Around 1980, for various reasons, the Happy Players folded, so a few of us held a meeting in a pub, again chaired by Terry, to propose starting up a new group, I said… how about “Variety Express”…? Most of you will know the history of VE… And here we are! Since the start of VE there have been a few changes, the format of the show had to change after Keith Watson left, and did so successfully into our present format.
What else have I played for?
  1. Hitchin Pantomime Company (early 190’s)
  2. The Maguire Singers (a madrigal group, early 1970’s)
  3. North Herts Variety Players (a short lived group)
  4. St John’s School, Baldock. Panto (with Chris Page on drums)
  5. Baldock Congregational Church (now Baldock United Reformed Church) Sunday school pianist (from age 13) and on the rota of organists (for services, weddings, funerals) until around 1982.
  6. Buffs Christmas carol concert (1982 – 2012)
  7. Baldock Theatre Group (with Pete Dawson/Chris Page on drums)
  8. Baldock Catholic Church - Occasional weddings/funerals
  9. K&L Sports and Social group (50 years ago!)
  10. Herts Variety (still going strong today) with Chris Page on drums
  11. Plus one or two I’ve probably forgotten
Terry Gray estimates that over the last 50 years, the groups have staged around 1000 shows large and small!
Instruments I have used
In the early days – piano, some good, some bad! I build my first organ in 1982 and used it for a couple of years – it sounded awful! I bbought two further portable organs with base pedalboards which I used at the start of Variety Express… Pedalboards are hard word!
I started using Yamaha keyboards around 23 years ago. The one I use now was given to me by Steve Bavister, I also have one given to me by Carol Nash which I use in my garden studio, they are superb instruments.
A final thought from me…
I would never have dreamed 50 years ago that 50 years on I would still be doing this!
See ya next year!
Geoff Page
Musical Director – Variety Express
The original Variety Express band, Dave Ewans, Geoff Page and Chris Page on mini drums!