Ty Jeffries at The Ledward Centre

It was a long time coming, a bespoke centre for the city’s LGBTQ+ community, a dream project close to the heart of James Ledward and sadly one that has only come to fruition after his tragically early death. James was the beating heart of the city’s queer community, a motivated activist, a watchdog, a relentless campaigner, a political dynamo, a thorn in the side of the city council and the police, respected by all, feared by some and the best friend one could hope to have. I spent some of my funniest times with James, both here and abroad.

So for the city’s gay hub to be named in his honour is not just appropriate, it is essential. And a centre like this, a safe space that is not based on drinking and dancing, is long overdue. But that said it should not be short of fun and celebration and Saturday’s event, the inaugural supper club, is the proof that the space can and should be used for worthy and worthwhile events of all kinds.

And how better to launch these supper events than with Ty Jeffries, composer, performer and comedy genius, the man behind Miss Hope Springs ( now in cryogenic suspension in Las Vegas), with an international reputation as a cabaret star. Ty delivered a set of his own songs, he always performs his own material, and delighted the audience with his acid wit, clever tunes and moving romantic ballads. While Miss Hope Springs is a comic creation on a level with a certain sadly gone antipodean dame, Ty in person proves that behind the gags he is an accomplished songwriter and clever lyricist.

He is also a rather gentle soul, without the mask provided by his alter-ego he is rather shy and self effacing. Amongst his delivery of songs and chatter he also opened the floor to questions, an idea that can be dangerous, and by that I mean dangerously boring. I have too often attended shows where this is part of the format only to have to listen to people declaring undying love for the performer, dull dull dull. But last night there were just a few well placed questions that Ty answered with humour and honesty, the right balance.

The evening was a supper event and the catering had been placed in the hands of the brilliant Gary Pargeter of Lunch Positive who with his team delivered a hearty and rustic meal. A choice of a sweet potato korma or a mushroom stroganoff, both served with rice and some very tasty bread. This was followed by apple cake and cream. again delicious and hearty. The centre is an alcohol free venue normally but for these special events a temporary licence is sought and a short list of good drinks at sensible prices is available.

All in all this was a great start to the concept and one that has raised some much needed money to go towards the ongoing works required to make the space fully functioning. There is a second event of this kind already on sale starring the talented Jenny Castell performing her Dusty Springfield tribute show on Sunday the 25th of February at 7pm again raising much needed funds to take James Ledward’s vision another step forward.

Andrew Kay

13 February

Rating: ★★★★★

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