London and the Awards

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So I headed down to London for the ceremony of the UK Blog Awards 2017.

From my previous blog post, I spoke how winning although it would be nice, wasn’t the overall objective, the main objective of this whole experience was to raise further awareness of the Kynren project, and try and deliver as much exposure that I could.

And I’d like to say I definitely delivered in regards to that.

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So onboard we went heading to London, with no expectations, just to enjoy the whole experience, getting caught up in a moment of reflection and acknowledging my own personal accomplishments.

 

The realisation that I’d taken a blank piece of paper with an idea of writing down my experiences and recording them to a UK individual finalist all inside 12 months.

Even thinking about it now, it still doesn’t ring quite true.

So London, our capital city, the hustle and bustle, the landmarks, the tourists, even the weather, lots going on as always.

The awards were being held in a central location, just past Westminster bridge overlooking both Big Ben and the London Eye.

Armed with suits and sparkling shoes I was here, ready to represent Kynren one final time.

 

 

The awards themselves as expected was a lavish affair, paparazzi waiting to snap as car doors opened, me just casually walking in under the radar.

I was here and I was determined to enjoy it.

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I made a point of arriving on time, I wanted to take as much of the experience in as possible, and although arriving on time, several people had already arrived before me.

This wasn’t just a big opportunity to showcase and promote the Kynren project but it was a good opportunity to meet the industry’s best all under one roof, meeting new people and gaining new and valuable connections.

 

Amongst the many finalists, guests and judges were a number of sponsors showcasing their wares for all to see and become involved in on the evening.

The one that stood out for my blog was this;

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Which resulted in a long conversation with Odeon Cinemas regarding Kynren, in which I couldn’t resist playing them the Kynren trailer from my phone and informing them that their is ‘Only one Arthur when Kynren is in town’.

 

With waiting staff aplenty the drinks were flowing, and quirky food samples based on a funfair theme too.

What’s not to like when you’re being offered beer, mini burgers, fish and chips, popcorn and pick and mix as just a small range of their offerings.

The awards were living up to its hype and more.

The room was a buzz of activity, hundreds of writers and bloggers coming together with hope and anticipation, that it could be them that picks up an award?

I met some truly talented and inspirational people in that room on that night, with potential collaborations to come in the future too.

So, to the main event, we got called into the main room to take our seats.

 

This was it, from just having a go, to here, this was it.

All the writing, all the support from readers and volunteers, all the promotional and media work I had organised and arranged, everything came down to this.

A National Award representing Kynren, representing Bishop Auckland, and most of all representing the Archers.

Win or lose, we do this together.

 

It was fantastic to see our project in the programme, it was fantastic just to be here.

My expectations weren’t high, I didn’t expect to win, I was the only event in an ‘Events and Weddings’ category, so the standard was high.

But it wasn’t about the winning, yeah it would be nice, of course it would, but I didn’t need my name to be called out for my own personal recognition to realise how far I’d come, how much I had already achieved, the original objectives I had well and truly smashed and delivered on.

This was the moment of truth.

The winner is…

 

Congratulations to Whisper and Blush

https://whisperandblush.com/

Totally deserved in my opinion, I had a look through my stiff competition within my category before attending the awards, and this particular blog stood out, well after mine of course.

I had the privilege of meeting the girls after they accepted their award, Melissa and Kate are so humble, yet so passionate about the articles they create, and are great ambassadors for the blogging community.

Whisper and Blush actually won this award last year too, but I’ve already told them that I aim to see them both again next year.

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The night was an unforgettable experience, one in which will long live in my memory.

Even thinking back on it now, the images above of a blank piece of paper, and a starting idea could of ever resulted in what I have achieved.

Thank you to the UK Blog Awards for creating this event, to recognise and acknowledge the talent of writers who do blog, on a wide range of different topics and subject matters.

Thank you for accepting me into your blogging community in which likeminded people come together each week on Twitter to discuss experiences and share advice on a wide range of stimulating questions within #BlogHour which you can’t not help to become more reassured, more confident and supported.

Thank you to the wide range of different writers, bloggers and Vloggers who each share in the same passions as you do, I hope to see you again at an event soon.

My next thank you goes to every single reader, and there has been many, from the UK to around the World, I hope you have found each article interesting and has reached out and encouraged you to come along to one of the performances.

For anyone who is just stumbling across these blog articles for the first time I hope you enjoy them.

But my final thank you has to be reserved for these guys.

https://corryandrew.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/the-volunteers/

The Archers, the volunteers, where would we be without each other.

We all came together for the same reasons, many of us strangers, to becoming friends, best friends, but more than that now we are all a family.

We look out for and after our own, supportive and caring, we encourage our successes, and commiserate on disappointments.

But ultimately I will always be proud to have stood beside each and every one of you.

Season 2, Saturday 1st July, enjoy it as only Archers know how.

Good Luck to all, and I’ll see you on the other side.

 

Kynren Training Day

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I’ve been meaning to post a new blog for a number of weeks now, the next one was and really still is the awards night in April, that I still haven’t got around to finishing off.

I suppose I haven’t finished it or possibly not wanted to finish and post it, as it will be the last line drawn for me within my current Kynren adventure.

But it will be getting posted soon.

Season 2 is now only weeks away, and this year for anyone who regularly reads this blog, I have decided to take a break away from the project.

With different circumstances I’d still be there, I have no doubt or hesitation.

As a recap for anyone who may only be reading this for the first time, I chose with a heavy heart to walk away from something I very much loved, for a personal reason.

That personal reason was I had been diagnosed with depression in November, and no matter how much I tried and how much I wanted to continue, I knew I had to put myself and my health first.

Kynren was my saviour, it was my escape, it was something I could really focus on, a brilliant hobby as such too.

What the project did was introduce me to several different people who have helped to shape me.

Showing me that there is a lot more to volunteering than just giving up your time.

It’s not about the money and not being paid, it’s about the experience, the adventure, the smiles, the laughter, and most of all the memories you create.

During Season 1, I more than played my part, it’s something I have been able to reflect back on over the last couple of months and be really proud of my accomplishments and my achievements.

Kynren also introduced me to someone that would encourage me to write, and now it’s not just something I thought I’d have a go at, it’s a passion, it’s something I’m good at, it’s something I excel in.

And thanks to Helen I’ll always be eternally grateful.

And who knows what Season 3 may hold for me, this year is just a break but never a goodbye.

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So what’s Kynren like outside looking in?

Especially when you’ve witnessed inside looking out?

It’s different I must admit.

From a locals point of view there is still an overwhelming buzz throughout the volunteers, something that I was and still am a part of.

The bond that each Archer has for each other will never wain or never die.

There is a growing community, strengthening each passing day.

A great support network and strong camaraderie spreading throughout the towns and the county.

The volunteers have created that all on their own.

So today brings around another full day of training, I only know because hundreds of new friends volunteering at Kynren have and had told me.

And thesedays were some of my favourite days.

The chance to get back on site, surrounded by new friends and meeting new faces, working together to bring something new, something different, something that the town can be really proud of to Bishop Auckland.

Yes the days are long, the days can be tiresome, but the Kynren site holds a magical feel about it.

I’ve only experienced it before when I’ve been to Disneyland, but it’s something much more.

It’s more than that, because it’s in our town, it’s our project, it’s something we’ve helped to create and hundreds upon thousands will continue to create and share.

Bishop Auckland and Kynren is a place to come, in future years it will be a place to stay and explore too.

It’s something not only am I passionate about but very proud of too.

We’ve come a long way, and will continue to keep growing, developing and learning with it too.

Since I’ve now left the project lots of talk have been about what is going to happen with this blog?

As far as I’m aware it’s the only Kynren Blog that has been written and recorded for the world to read, and the world has been watching and reading too.

Since the UK Blog Awards, Kynren is a project on a different audiences lips, and it’s important to continue telling the story.

This story is about what Kynren is like from a volunteers perspective and that’s what I intend to do.

Sharing some of the volunteers stories of why and how they came to be involved and how the project has changed and helped them.

It also offers me a chance to write from a local residents point of view too, outside looking in.

Kynren Season 2 starts on Saturday 1st July running for 17 show dates, ending on Saturday 16th September.

For more information or to book your tickets please visit the Eleven Arches website:

http://www.elevenarches.org

 

UK Blog Awards 2017

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Well here we are, Friday 21st April, the long countdown since finding out back in January that I became a finalist in these National awards.

And it now all comes down to tonight.

In all honesty there are no nerves, or certainly no nerves at the moment, I’ve done everything that I can do.

The pressure is well and truly off, even if it was ever on in the first place.

I’m not going to lie, now the day is here, everyone wants to win it badly, everyone has hope, and everyone deserves it too, and I’m very much no different.

But will I win?

Probably not, and I know friends, family, fellow volunteers, have been trying to tell me I might, and yes I might, you just never know.

But in all honesty I feel in my heart and my head that it will come as a surprise, and for me an unexpected, but welcome shock if it were to happen.

The objective of these awards has never been the recognition, but has been totally humbling to receive it in the process, one I thank every person who had taken the time to vote for.

One thing some won’t know, I mentioned last weekend, I have got depression, when I first entered these awards I did it for two reasons.

One to raise more exposure for the Kynren project and to hopefully attract more visitors to Bishop Auckland.

That’s always been my primary objective, and I already know that I’ve achieved that target.

The promotion work I’ve done over the last 4 months has been second to none.

Not has it been very important to promote the Kynren project, alongside myself, but it has been important to me to help, support and promote the UK Blog Awards and build up further awareness of them too.

I head to London today knowing that the impact I’ve made with regular promotion, radio and television interviews have placed me in a position that might just trigger that all important reactions tonight of:

‘What is Kynren?’

And as volunteers we already know that when each of these individuals type in their search bars on Google, the word ‘Kynren’ and watch the preview video of last year’s show they cannot fail to be impressed, because as the title goes it is Epic.

If you’ve not heard about it before, click here: https://www.facebook.com/Elevenarches/videos/1227949433938702/

Prepare to have you minds blown, with a fantastic spectacle before your own eyes, brought to you by hundreds of volunteers, let the music capture your attention and enjoy our journey.

The 1,500 strong volunteers can’t wait to welcome you and deliver 17 stunning performances this Summer.

The second point I’d like to talk about is me, not this blog, not the Kynren project, not the promotion, not the awards, just me.

What a lot of people won’t be aware of, as mentioned above I have depression, I don’t hide behind it, one of the most important steps that I acknowledge has been the process of being honest with myself and open to everyone, and to not hide behind it any longer.

When I entered these awards, it came about by chance, I’d just been diagnosed with depression, I was in a low, dark depressional cycle, I happened to stumble upon it on a Google search.

On the day I searched it, the closing date for entries was the end of that week, I entered based on two reasons, the one above which I’ve described and quite frankly my real objective, but two, to try and give myself some focus, some clarity, something to concentrate on.

And it’s worked, I don’t need to win tonight, yes it would be nice, I’ll be high on emotions if I do, but I don’t need to have my name called out tonight, because I’ve far achieved all I ever needed too.

Both for the Kynren project and for my wellbeing.

Becoming a finalist has strengthened me, it’s reaffirmed that I can write, my content is good, I have an ability to put the reader in the words, and when they are reading they feel they are the ones living it.

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As the quote goes that’s exactly how I feel I write, lots of readers have commented the same too, it’s sparked an interest to learn more, some have gone on to volunteer, others have booked tickets, the important thing is I captured the attention of many people Worldwide who may not have heard about it.

If you are attending tonight, please ask me, that’s what I’m here for.

I’m now part of a blogging community, which is rich in talent, that is supportive and helpful, that is fun and meaningful, and tonight is a celebration of what this industry is all about.

Fast growing, impact hitting in all topics and overall extremely worthwhile for both the writer, the brands and the charitable causes too.

No matter what happens tonight, I’m here for the ride, I’m here for the experience, and to take it all in, I’m here to meet new friends and make plenty more in the process.

And a final note goes out to all the other 258 finalists, in all categories, Congratulations and the very best of luck, we are all deserving finalists but the real winner tonight is ‘Blogging’

Raising more awareness of the true impact it can offer in our society.

Good Luck and I’ll see you all tonight.

What Makes Me Proud?

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When you talk about Kynren, and believe me as volunteers we talk about it a lot, it’s because we are so proud of the project and of our own personal achievements.

But what stands out for me is without any question, it’s the people.

After the first successful season and now gearing up for season 2, the only questions that should be asked is;

‘What is Kynren?’

‘And what does it mean to you?’

For me Kynren is many things, I mentioned this without going into detail yesterday.

Yes it’s a fantastic, tremendous, outstanding show, with many other words that can describe and express how it makes you feel.

And all that have witnessed it have done.

But for me, Kynren – An Epic Tale of England, only tells half the tale.

There’s no doubting it’s an utterly impressive live outdoor show that is unique to the UK, but bearing in mind each performance has been delivered by a 1000 volunteers, and added by a few hundred more in high anticipation of Season 2.

Each of these people have come together for many personal reasons and stories that I hope to share with you throughout this year.

But these are just regular people, who have come together to give back, to volunteer their time to help improve their town, or surrounding areas.

Some have hobbies or common interests in acting or dancing, some have wanted to take on a new challenge or had wanted to welcome all the visitors to the area.

The Archers all have lives, they work, they go to school, they are part of families, they each have responsibilities, or other interests outside of this amazing project, but you can’t help coming back for more and more.

Each of these people, are what makes me feel proud when someone asks about Kynren.

The show is incredible, but the people, I’m speechless when I talk about them, they make me so proud, and in turn they make me feel proud as I was one of them too.

You only have to look at the children and the teenagers to know how great this project is, to have been fortunate to watch each of them grow in confidence from their first rehearsals to the end of an award winning first season.

They make me proud, these are the next generation of volunteers and performers that will continue to drive Kynren on to new bounds.

It prompted a question that I asked myself several weeks ago.

‘What must it be like to be a teenager right now?’

Kynren is providing so many opportunities to learn, to discover new interests and passions that you may never knew existed in your being.

I know it has literally done that for me, writing makes me feel alive.

But if Kynren was here when I was a teenager? What would I be doing? What role would I take part in? Would I have the confidence at all to take part?

I’d like to think I would be, I know for certain just looking at the volunteers of all ages it would have brought me on leaps and bounds, just as it has done for many of the kids and young adults too.

For me, it has challenged me to become resourceful, to care more, to stand up and be counted when it really mattered, and never be afraid to show your passion.

If you dream it, you can do it.

To have something so special on your doorstep, that no one else in the UK has, that the trust of deliverance has been put in the hands of volunteers, rather than seasoned professionals, and the opportunity for the town of Bishop Auckland has been equally matched by Jonathan Ruffer and by Kynren, is another reason to make you feel proud and honoured to be a part of it.

It’s going to be a strange feeling not going to be there from now on, to not be a part of the action, a part of the camaraderie, to miss out on well… just not being there.

But Kynren is in safe hands, and that’s because Kynren is a community project, and no matter what, it always will be.

When you attend this Summer, yes enjoy the show, it will be like something you will never of seen before, and if you were here last year, that includes you too.

Enjoy the scenery, the rolling landscapes that Kynren sits besides, look at the amazing wild flowers on the walk into the site.

But don’t forget to look at the people, the volunteers, the Archers, because when you look and take notice, you’ll realise that they are Kynren, the real Kynren.

The heartbeat to the whole project.

To book your tickets for one of the 17 live, action packed shows please visit the Eleven Arches website here: http://www.elevenarches.org/

All Good Things Must Come To An End

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In all honesty I wasn’t going to write and post this today, I was in the process of writing another blog article called ‘What Makes Me Proud’ which I’ll now post tomorrow.

I think sentiment has got the better of me today, memories and flashbacks and to post this article today instead of tomorrow seemed more appropriate.

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One year ago today, this is where it all started, and friendships really started to form, this was the very first Experience team social meet-up, which were to become a common event throughout the build up towards the first show.

On this particular evening hardly anyone knew each other, the weather was torrential rain, and if I’m perfectly honest, I had doubts about attending even though I had organised it all.

The weather clearly put a lot of volunteers off going, if I wasn’t the organiser, I probably would have gave it a miss too, but if I had I would of missed out on a memorable evening shared with great company.

How is it possible? How can close friendships be formed so quickly, with Kynren everything is possible.

Leading onto the subject matter of this post.

‘All Good Things Must Come To An End’

On Tuesday of this week, with an extremely heavy heart I informed all of my teammates and all of my fellow volunteers, that I would unfortunately be leaving the Kynren project.

No doubt it will have been a shock or surprised some, especially as I’ve gone through the majority of the show team rehearsals this Season 2.

To walk away from this project so close to the start of season 2, and now not experiencing what it would have been like to take part in a debut performance, and the chance to witness one of those truly magical standing ovations.

A decision I haven’t taken lightly, I’ve been weighing this up for weeks, ever since the first weekend of training sessions.

There’s an unanswered question here, “But why?”

And an answer that I wasn’t sure if I should reveal or not, I don’t hide behind it, but I’ve never revealed it within these blog posts, and I was unsure if I should start now.

Kynren for all that it is, and it’s for many things. Things that you may have read in this blog, and others that I’m going to write about to showcase Kynren’s true personality.

And for all the good reasons, the self purpose, the feeling of worth, the achievements, the growth in confidence, the people who are truly everything, who are what Kynren truly is, I had to walk away and put myself first.

It’s been a very emotional week, with what I’m not ashamed to admit too, a lot of tears.

I have thrown myself into this project, for the good of Kynren, the good of our town, for the good of the people, but mainly for the good of myself.

And it pains me to walk away now, knowing the work I’ve done has contributed to the successes of the the show.

I have helped to give Kynren alongside 1000 volunteers, 1000 teammates, but more so 1000 friends, a foundation in which Kynren can grow, a benchmark that Kynren can target and push boundaries, and with that memories that I can look back and treasure forever.

For some, you will already know, for others you won’t, I was diagnosed with depression in November of last year, the last 5/6 months have been extremely tough at times from a personal point of view, and although Kynren has been a saviour at times, truthfully that’s what it comes down to for leaving.

It’s difficult, extremely difficult, and a decision that keeps playing back and forth in my mind, as to have I done the right thing?

It’s an answer I’ll never find without having the courage to walk away from something I’ve fallen in love with.

And it truly breaks my heart in the process too.

Nothing is forever, it may be a break, for however long it takes, to walk away from the project is hard, to walk away from the people, the volunteers, a second family has been so, so tough.

But I’m proud of them all, and they will go into season 2 creating new memories, building on the new history of Bishop Auckland through Kynren, and delighting sell out crowds in the process.

So what’s left to say?

On Friday I finally head down to London to find out if my Kynren Blog has beaten the odds and will be announced as a National winner, at the UK Blog Awards.

Something that I could never of envisioned when starting this blog, win or not, I will be forever thankful to Helen Watson for encouraging me to write this, as it is now a written record of many memories and emotions that can be re-lived in detail for myself and fellow volunteers to be remembered.

As for this blog, it will continue, granted I won’t be involved in detail as I was previously, but there is still so much that is left untold, so many more memories to share.

And so many stories from fellow volunteers to be heard.

Once the awards are over, I’ll be asking for contributions of guest blog posts from fellow Archers that I can share with my blogging community, with my worldwide reading audience.

It was my personal plan to write from the eyes of different teams so everyone could experience this wonderful project from a different perspective, unfortunately I am going to be unable to do that this season, so I hope to hand over to the current Archers and let them describe to you all;

‘What does Kynren mean to them?’

A final note today goes to the many thousands of people who have taken the time to read each article, I really do hope you found them interesting, engaging and have captured your hearts as much as this project has captured mine.

Kynren, thank you for the memories, until the next time.

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Easter Break

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First of all, Happy Easter holidays to you, another great time to wind down and spend some quality time with your families and your friends.

For Kynren and it’s volunteers it’s exactly that too.

After weeks of intensive training, the Kynren site has closed down for a much needed break for each volunteer, and even then we miss not being there.

Rehearsals start again from Saturday 22nd April when all the training, rehearsals and preparation is moved onto the stage.

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For any new volunteers who have signed up to take part during Season 2, they will have a mixture of true excitement alongside waves of nervousness in anticipation.

I know we did last year.

Looking back on this time last year, with a half completed building site, as Construction teams were working around the clock,  to complete works to ensure Kynren opened on time.

As contractors pulled off site, the volunteers would arrive to take part in their on site, on stage training.

These on stage sessions are brilliant days, intense for some, especially the show and technical teams, but these are the days that every team come together to work on aspects of their training in preparation for the live shows.

This year, the majority of volunteers know each other, there will be no awkwardness at times, as after all Kynren lives and breathes as a family unit thesedays, instilled by the passion of its volunteers.

Thinking back on last year, on most occasions the weather was kind, it certainly was on that first on stage rehearsal weekend, it felt as though you weren’t in Bishop Auckland at times, it was strange, you could clearly see the landmarks, but with the music playing and the warm weather and this unbelievable warm feeling running through your bones, you just knew you were in a special environment, one which creates smiles of happiness aplenty.

Come next week, the volunteers will be fully recharged, refreshed and raring to go, for some ready to rekindle the magic of the project of last year.

And some in preparation to witness it all for their very first time.

My advice to you all is take a breath, don’t panic, and take everything in, because these moments are just the start of your exciting Summer, where I know for one you will have the time of your lives.

Interested to know more about Kynren, why not like their Facebook page where you can watch official promotional videos such as this: 

https://www.facebook.com/Elevenarches/videos/122794943938702/

 

 

Kynren Blog – Media Day (Part 2)

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Following on from part one of my media day with Bishop FM, I had arranged to do another pre-recorded interview in the afternoon, with fellow Archer Mark Ashley Pattison, who not only volunteers his time in Kynren’s Technical team, but also works for television network Made in Tyne and Wear.

After finishing my interview with Bishop FM I was unaware of not only how it went but how it was perceived until many messages came flooding in through social media from friends, and volunteers.

But this one was different, this was TV, where the camera is on you, and nerves did get the better of me on one or two occasions.

Mark doing his level best to calm me down and ensuring me that the interview was going well.

With all things, nerves come from those things that matter most to you, it is things that you care about and you want to do well not only for yourself, but the project and people who stand by your side.

We chose an isolated spot that has great views over the Kynren site and surrounding countryside to conduct the interview.

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Once I calmed my nerves, and tried to forget the camera was not only on me, but also constantly trying not to pause and keep the interview flowing and precise, we managed to record the full interview which can be seen below;

https://www.facebook.com/madeintyneandwear/videos/1850851121842004/

It’s quite incredible that this interview that was broadcast on Sky Channel 117 on Monday 27th March and has gone on to record over 7,000 views in just shy of 3 weeks.

Something I can definitely look back on and be proud of.

With the UK Blogging Awards now only a week away, time is being afforded to dream, it’s a finalist on merit, it tells the Kynren story from not only my volunteers perspective, but it really is just one of the many ‘unofficial stories of us’.

Mine however just happens to be recorded.

Win or lose, we as volunteers, us Archers, we do this together, and if it should happen to be announced as a winning blog in my category on the evening, we shall celebrate the achievement of it all together.

I’m proud to have got this far, it was entered as an opportunity to showcase and promote the project to a wider audience, to tell the inside story of Kynren, to share with the reading audience of all of the emotions that we as volunteers have gone through within the debut season and beyond.

And now the awards are almost upon us, I just hope I can do each and every Archer, past, present, newly joined and those teammates who are sadly no longer with us, David, Molly, Lynn and Brian proud by being able show Kynren off in it’s true light, and share in the real meaning of what it is like to be a volunteer.

Season 2 of Kynren opens on Saturday 1st July and runs for 17 shows throughout the Summer, to book your tickets for what will be the most talked about live outdoor show please visit the Eleven Arches website: http://www.elevenarches.org/