Arbroath Minstrels bow out with £91,000 presentation

Pictured are representatives from the minstrels and the charities which received donations. (Wallace Ferrier)Pictured are representatives from the minstrels and the charities which received donations. (Wallace Ferrier)
Pictured are representatives from the minstrels and the charities which received donations. (Wallace Ferrier)
The Angus Minstrels marked the end of six decades of entertaining local audiences and supporting charity by presenting more than £90,000 in a final round of funding.

The handover of £91,000 took place at the group’s EGM when it formally closed what had been a proud history of staunch support for good causes across the county and further afield.

The main beneficiary was CHAS (Children’s Hospices Across Scotland) which received £50,000.

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The Minstrels have raised in the region of £750,000 for charity over fifty-nine years – a remarkable sum for an amateur company.

The Angus Minstrels were founded in 1961, following the death from cerebral palsy of Sandy, twin son of Margaret Hutchinson/Moss (nee Mitchell) in 1960.

The Mitchell family wished to do something to help children like Sandy, and so decided to raise funds by putting on a show similar to the then very popular television programme, ‘The Black and White Minstrel Show.’

A spokesperson for the group said: “It was intended as a small concert for two nights, but extended to three and was so successful that it became an annual event. In later years the show became so popular that it ran for 11 nights. People queued all night for tickets and within hours of going on sale they were sold out.

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“Audiences supported from near and far, with bus parties coming from all over Scotland and it was described in the press as the ‘most spectacular amateur show’.

"A high point was its 25th Anniversary, when the show was attended by HRH the Princess Anne."

Over the years, funds have been donated to a number of charities, although CHAS became a main beneficiary in 1994 and has received almost £300,000 since then.

Following the death of producer Ian Spalding, who collapsed on stage at a rehearsal in 1984, the Minstrels raised funds for a defibrillator.

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Arbroath Rotary Club provided a second and the local ambulance were the first in Scotland to carry the defibrillators before they became standard equipment.

Over almost 60 years numerous talented performers have taken part in Minstrel shows.

The final show was staged in 2019, just before the pandemic after giving pleasure to numerous company members and audiences.

Other charities to benefit were: Diabetes UK (£5000); Angus Young Carers (£4000); Arbroath Old & Abbey Church Food Bank (£3000); Angus Toy Appeal (£3000); Homestart (£3000); Lochlands Resource Centre (£3000); Arbroath Café Project (£3000); Riding for the Disabled (£2500); Arbroath RNLI (£2000); Alzheimer Scotland (£2000); University of Dundee Parkinson’s Research Campaign (£2000); Tarriebank Care Home where Joan Mitchell, Minstrel co-founder, is a resident (£2000); Arbroath Music Festival (£2000); Andy’s Men’s Club (£1500); Arbroath Rugby Rhinos (£1000); Arbroath Men’s Shed (£500); Havilah Project of Community Outreach run by St Andrew’s Church, Arbroath (£500); St John’s Methodist Church community work (£500) and St Mary’s Episcopal Church (£500).

St John’s and St Mary’s Churches both provided venues for for Minstrel rehearsals.