Cabaret event raises more than £600 for women’s refuge

Actress Hermione Norris (second from right) pictured with Julie Newall, Hazel Williams, Rene Wyndham, Katie Bielec and Tee Francis

MORE than 100 people attended a fundraiser for the Friends of West Dorset Women’s Refuge on Sunday, with star guest being actress Hermione Norris.

The ‘Cabaret and Cakes’ event was held at the Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis, providing an afternoon of varied entertainment, served alongside tea and cake.

The Friends’ aim is to raise funds to support the women and children living in a local refuge and provide them with festive food, as well as basic necessities such as bedding, towels and toiletries.

Margie Barbour, treasurer of the Friends, said: “We were delighted at the amazing turnout for the occasion. More than £600 was raised and the number of presents for the families and hugely useful household items overwhelmed us.”

Hermione Norris, known for her roles in ‘Coldfeet’ and crime thriller ‘Innocent’, read poems and an extract from ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’.

The audience was also entertained by local musicians Hazel Williams, Julie Newall and Rene Wyndham. Tee Francis also read two of her own poems reflecting both the dark and lighter side of being female.

As a finale to the performances, You First Service Manager Katie Bielec spoke movingly about the agency’s work tackling domestic abuse and sexual violence, and the role of refuges in Dorset in supporting women and children escaping from abusive partners. Many families arrive with nothing more that the clothes that they stand up in and have to rebuild their lives from scratch.

Amanda Streatfeild, chairman of the West Dorset Friends group, emphasised how important this support work is during the Christmas period, which can be a very stressful time for families with very little.

“Being able to give presents to each other, donated and provided by the generosity of local people, makes all the difference and enables mums and their children to have some of the Christmas treats which so many of us take for granted,” she said.

The Friends of West Dorset Women’s Refuge is sponsoring a tree during the Christmas Tree Festival in Bridport United Church from December 4 to 16, where cash donations can be given and more information provided.

To find out more or to make your own donation, email

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