December 12 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
A Norfolk man best known for his spectacular Christmas shows was honoured last night for his tireless support of an armed forces charity.
John Cushing, founder, chief executive, director and producer of the festive Thursford Show, was thanked and praised for his devotion to the Army Benevolent Fund, the soldiers’ charity.
The 40-strong Band of Coldstream Guards filled the grand auditorium with military, classical and show music and organisers paid homage to Mr Cushing – who they said made an “invaluable contribution” to their cause.
For 24 years Mr Cushing has hosted the charity’s annual concert in the Thursford Collection’s awe-inspiring hall, and this year the charity reached its £200,000 milestone raised from the concerts.
The money not only provides funding to educate military personnel but is also used to support their well-being as well as their families through grief and difficulty.
Colonel (retired) John Dobson from the Norfolk branch of the charity has organised the show for 14 years and said every year he is reminded how much Thursford has done for the cause.
“One of the main reasons the charity has been so successful in raising so much money is because of the support John has given us,” he said.
“Without John we would have never achieved the amount of fundraising we have.
“There’s a partnership between us and Thursford – and without it we would have been at a great disadvantage.”
Charity committee members said the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have meant the 69-year-old charity has had to double its fundraising efforts to meet the increased demand.
Mr Cushing, who started the Thursford Spectacular as a Christmas carol concert with just eight singers and transformed it into the biggest Christmas show in England, said he was honoured to be recognised for his work.
Having been interested in military band music since he was a child, Mr Cushing said he had always been “passionate” about the Army Benevolent Fund and was proud to have helped raise so much money through the show which is supported by Archant Anglia, publisher of the Eastern Daily Press.
“The charity is for people who have given their lives and their families they have left behind, so it’s a real honour to be associated with the charity and the work they do,” he said.
“It has really been a great pleasure to be involved all these years.”
The chairmain of the Norfolk branch of the charity, Brigadier (retired) Peter Stewart-Richardson, described Mr Cushing as “incredibly devoted” and said he had made the concert a major event in the Norfolk calendar.
Former head of the Army, and president of the Norfolk branch of the charity Lord Dannatt, attended the concert as a special guest as well as Major General Martin Rutledge, who runs the charity in London.