When I was thinking about how I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday I wanted to do something different and something which was true to me that everyone could be part of.

But what?

My life is pretty much theatre, theatre and yes more theatre. Give me a West End show and I can tell who was in it and probably would have seen it several times over. 

I am lucky enough to have lots of friends who are in the theatre world and it was their idea to hire a venue and they would put on a show for me. What a brilliant idea! I then decided I wanted to receive donations instead of birthday gifts, but who to fundraise for?

For many years I have known Shane Richie and aware that he is the Patron for Cherry Trees. I was also a nanny for many years and children are very close to my heart.  When I researched the charity and the amazing work that they do, I immediately felt it was the right place to raise money for as it was such a great fit.

So over the last three months the ‘show’ has been in planning.

At the end of June, 100 of my friends and family joined me at Pizza Express Live in Holborn, where I had one very close friend fly back from Berlin, whilst another was one of my first teachers from primary school.  I was delighted that he could come to celebrate with me.

As pizzas were kneaded and prosecco flowed, we were treated to a medley of songs with performers from Les Mis, Joseph, Wicked, Blood Brothers, and Starlight Express singing and dancing for us.

Jonathan D Ellis and Jane Horn West End stars and friends of Joanna's make a moment to remember

Image copyright: Joanna Vowles 

Not only did we get a fantastic afternoon out, but it was the money we raised for the charity at the same time which gave my birthday a really special feel to it. I am happy to say that my generous family and friends donated more than £1000 – just brilliant!  A great time had by all and money to a wonderful charity.


If you would like to use a celebration event to raise money for Cherry Trees like Joanna, contact the fundraising team for buckets, help with setting up a fundraising page and literature on our charity. Contact Anna on 01483 222 507 

Let’s celebrate life’s happy moments together and keep on being a force for good together, supporting respite care for children with disabilities.