Star of Stone Spitfire Group Crown Wharf Theatre

Spitfire Group DOUBLES its support for Crown Wharf Theatre

The Star of Stone Spitfire Group has increased its support for the Crown Wharf Theatre.

In February, the Spitfire Group became a gold founding partner of the Crown Wharf Theatre, with a seat in the auditorium to be dedicated to the Star of Stone Spitfire. The group also presented a painting of the Spitfire by artist Charles O’Neill to the theatre.

The Spitfire Group has now decided to increase its support for the theatre through an additional gold founding partner sponsorship, this time with the seat to be dedicated to the pilot of the Star of Stone, Flt Lt Karl Jacobsen. The group recently presented a photograph of Flt Lt Jacobsen to the theatre to mark the additional gold sponsorship.

Geoff Berriman, group leader of the Star of Stone Spitfire Group, said: “The Spitfire Group could not have found a better project to support than the Crown Wharf Theatre. We have over 80 members who have made an enormous contribution to our project and we hope to make this enthusiasm and commitment available to Crown Wharf Theatre in whatever way we can. When the theatre opens its doors, it will be an incredible addition to the cultural life of the town. We wanted to ensure that there will be a gold founding partner seat in the auditorium for both the Star of Stone and its pilot.”

Leo Capernaros, Crown Wharf Theatre trustee, added: “We’re so proud to be supported by The Star of Stone Spitfire Group, and I’d like to thank the group for their continuing support. Getting the theatre open is a real community effort, and the support of community groups, individuals and businesses is vital to the success of our project.”

Members of the Star of Stone Spitfire Group with Crown Wharf Theatre trustee Leo Capernaros

Crown Wharf Theatre backed by Star of Stone Spitfire Group

Crown Wharf Theatre is flying high with the support of The Star of Stone Spitfire Group!

The Spitfire Group has become the latest Gold Founding Partner of the theatre project as we edge ever closer to opening the doors of the theatre.

In 1942, the people of Stone raised £5,000 to fund a Spitfire for the war effort. The plane was named ‘The Star of Stone’ because the fundraising meetings are thought to have been held in The Star Inn pub in the town. The plane was flown from RAF North Weald by the Norwegians of 331 Squadron. Sadly, on 19 June 1942, the Star of Stone pilot, Flt Lt Karl Jacobsen, died after being shot down over the Channel.

Set up in 2018, the Spitfire Group aims to keep the story of the Star of Stone alive – and to celebrate the huge community effort in the town that delivered the plane.

Numerous events and visits have been held over the last few years. And a painting of the Star of Stone Spitfire by Charles O’Neill has been presented to the family of Fl Lt Karl Jacobsen and to the mayor of his home town near Oslo, to the Norwegian Ambassador in the UK, and to many other organisations.

They have now been invited to the Royal Palace in Oslo to present a painting to the King of Norway, whose father and grandfather escaped (along with Karl Jacobsen) on HMS Devonshire in 1940 following the Nazi invasion of their country.

A painting was presented to the Crown Wharf Theatre on 1 February, and the Spitfire Group has become a gold founding partner, as well as sponsoring four seats at the theatre, all dedicated to the Star of Stone.

Geoff Berriman, group leader of the Star of Stone Spitfire Group, said: “We’re delighted to support Crown Wharf Theatre. When it opens its doors, it will be an incredible addition to the cultural life of the town. It’s simply mind-boggling what can be put on there and the impact it can have.

“In 1942, the people of Stone came together to fund The Star of Stone Spitfire. It was a wonderful community effort, and a similar community spirit exists around the Crown Wharf Theatre, as individuals, businesses and organisations all do their bit to make sure the theatre opens and is a huge success.”

Leo Capernaros, Crown Wharf Theatre trustee, said: “We’re so proud to be supported by The Star of Stone Spitfire Project. We’ve been so fortunate, right from the beginning, to have so many people stepping forward and backing the Crown Wharf Theatre. From individuals helping at our fundraising events, to businesses donating their time and expertise, to organisations like The Star of Stone Spitfire Project becoming founding partners, getting the theatre open is a real community effort.”

The shell of Crown Wharf Theatre was built as a gift to the town by Joule’s Brewery – the theatre’s lead sponsor – as part of their Crown Wharf development by the Trent and Mersey Canal. Back in 1942, Joule’s was also the lead sponsor of the Star of Stone Spitfire.

The Crown Wharf Theatre Charity took on the theatre in April last year on a peppercorn rent and, thanks to support from local businesses and a £50,000 grant from the Town Hall Charities, got to work first on the back-of-house areas, which are nearing completion.

A £75,000 grant from the Community and Environment Fund, in place to benefit communities being disrupted by HS2, was awarded to Crown Wharf Theatre at the end of last year, which means work in the auditorium can now get under way. The grant will be used to fund the lighting grid, sprung timber flooring, sound equipment and acoustic treatments.

Leo Capernaros added: “With the help of so many people, we’ve achieved so much and we’re taking exciting steps to getting the theatre open. There’s still a way to go, so we’d love to hear from individuals who want to volunteer their time, or businesses who want to help by donating time or expertise, or anyone who’s interested in sponsoring a seat or becoming a founding partner.”

Local business lighting up Crown Wharf Theatre in Stone

The Crown Wharf Theatre charity has revealed its first founding partner as it continues to make big steps towards opening a brand new theatre in Stone.

LAUK Lighting, based on Stone Business Park in the town, has played a huge role in the project so far and has become a Gold Founding Partner.

Work started on the backstage area earlier this year and Oliver Freer from LAUK has not only donated his time and expertise, but the company is also providing all the required domestic lighting fittings for the project. Oliver has also helped the charity access vital electrical infrastructure equipment, which has been kindly donated by Schneider Electric.

The hardware alone would have cost the charity thousands of pounds, but in addition Oliver has given his time and professional expertise free of charge to produce vital domestic lighting designs for the project, as well as an online 3D model of the auditorium which gives an interactive, panoramic view of what the theatre will look like when it opens to the public.

Local businesses can become founding partners through making a monetary donation or, like LAUK, donating time, expertise and materials to the project. As a gold founding partner, LAUK will be featured on a Founders Board at the theatre and will get a Gold Founder plaque on one of the theatre seats. Plus they’ll get a plaque and certificate for their business premises.

Oliver said: “I had a tour of the theatre site in 2019 when it was nothing more than steels coming out of the ground. But I was so impressed by the project and its potential, so I wanted to get involved right then to help make this a reality. The theatre will be an amazing community space for everyone in the town. It’s been amazing to see the project progressing, and to be playing a part in making it happen is incredibly satisfying.”

Crown Wharf Theatre trustee Leo Capernaros added: “Right from the beginning, we’ve looked to build strong relationships with businesses in the area who share our vision for the town’s future and can see the potential of this fantastic facility in the heart of the community. Oliver’s help has been invaluable. We’ve been so fortunate to have so many people stepping forward and backing the Crown Wharf Theatre project. We couldn’t do it without them.”

The charity has been staging a variety of fundraising events this year, including an August Bank Holiday Theatre Takeover of the Joule’s Crown Wharf pub, and the charity’s first Wharfstock live music festival at Westbridge Park at the end of September. And there are lots more coming up, including a musical theatre cabaret, as well as Christmas concerts and carolling with the Cantiamo Chamber Choir, Revellation Choir and Florence Brass Band at the Joule’s Crown Wharf pub. Full details of all upcoming events are available on our Events Page.

A number of funding bids have also been submitted for the auditorium stage of the project. The charity should find out before the end of the year if they’ve been successful.

There is more information about becoming a Crown Wharf Theatre founding partner, and lots of other ways that businesses and residents can support the project on this website.