A CHARITY in memory of much-loved drama teacher will be launched this week.
Mike Fry’s inspirational lessons will be remembered at a launch on Saturday following his death in 2009.
Graham Lindup and five other ex-Haydon Bridge pupils have set up the charity foundation in their former teacher’s name which will be launched at their old school on Saturday. And to Mr Lindup falls the honour of being Chairman.
Mr Lindup said he went into his first secondary school drama lesson 13 years ago little expecting the swift and everlasting inspiration he was to gain from his new class teacher.
Drama instructor Mike Fry led Mr Lindup’s class at Haydon Bridge High School in reading passages from Romeo and Juliet.
“And within a week I was in rehearsals playing a messenger in Hamlet on stage,” recalls Mr Lindup, now a volunteer drama teacher himself.
“It was the start of my own love of drama, and Mike Fry was the inspiration behind us all. He was a great man, with so much enthusiasm.”
In September 2009 Mr Fry, in his late 50s, died of brain cancer and a stroke. The Mike Fry Foundation will support young people working in the arts in rural Northumberland, setting up workshops and grants and aiming to foster the same sort of dedication as the teacher whose passion for the arts – and in particular Shakespeare – knew no bounds.
“It truly is an honour,” says Mr Lindup. “With three additional representatives from drama groups, we have a committee of nine, and we have worked hard with the intention of keeping Mike’s spirit alive.
“Myself and everyone else involved with the Foundation were inspired by Mike’s passion for drama, for making the written word come alive.
“He created an environment in which no idea was a bad idea – everybody was encouraged. That allowed everybody to be creative, and flourish in his lessons.
“He was also very prevalent in the wider community, and I joined my amateur group in Bellingham. Had it not been for Mike, I might never have felt this way, or done these things.”
Mr Fry, an Essex man and bachelor, returned south to be with his family in his terminal illness, and is buried at Witham. But at the special memorial service held at Haydon Bridge in the month of his death, the seeds of the Mike Fry Foundation were sown.
Mr Lindup added: “There was a massive number of people at the service – the church wasn’t big enough – and among them were many of Mike’s ex-pupils.
“We got together and thought that some sort of living tribute would be right, and we wanted it to be more than just a plaque on a bench.
“We arranged an initial meeting, we formed the Foundation to honour the work Mike did, to try to carry on his work and to try to have the same influence he had. This is our tribute, our thank-you, to a truly great man.”