Bridport Arts Newsletter

To Ukraine With Love

Tom Littledyke, the West Dorset landlord who has organised and driven two convoys of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, will be speaking after the screening of ‘Flee’ at 5pm at Bridport Arts Centre on Friday April 29.

It will be a chance to hear how Tom, spurred on by one of his regulars, took his pub’s minibus packed full of donations to the Poland-Ukraine border shortly after the war started. Tom went on to drive to the Ukrainian city of Lviv to bring out refugees desperate to escape the conflict. This effort rapidly grew into a second convoy with over 30 drivers delivering ambulances and 4X4s as well as more humanitarian aid.

Tom, 31, says he has met ‘incredible and inspirational’ people from the warzone, and he is especially indebted to ‘Sofia’ who has converted her eco re-fill shop in Lviv into a distribution point for aid and accommodation for refugees. ‘She has been vital in making sure aid is getting where it’s needed – when she let us know that the ambulance we had dropped off had already saved a life it was emotional to know that what we were bringing was getting put to use straight away.’

Tom has a lifelong love of film. After first training as a Royal Marine Reservist, he pursued the pull of performance that had started with GCSE drama at The Woodroffe School to reach Hollywood in 2014 where he took acting classes. He says ‘I landed the role of a bad guy in the TV series The Punisher, though the absolute highlight was meeting Dolly Parton and finding out she is just as lovely a person in real life!’. Missing ‘country pubs and proper beer’, Tom returned to West Dorset where he was compelled to bring his love of cinema to the Shave Cross Inn in the Marshwood Vale; ‘Taking on a pub during a pandemic meant we had to keep adapting – drive-in screenings at our ‘Jurassic Parking’ nights, enabled us to bring food and drink to customers’ cars, The Truman Show was an especially good fit for lockdown life’. Tom has plans for more outdoor films, ‘Shave Cross Under The Stars’, and a Shrek Burlesque show in October.

Flee‘ is being shown as part of Bridport’s Film Festival, From Page To Screen. The award-winning animation tells the true story of an adult Afghan refugee confronting their traumatic childhood experience of human trafficking.  Film critic Mark Kermode gives it five stars and says, ‘ultimately, this depicts a triumph of the human spirit and a coming-of-age narrative as gripping as the most finely wrought drama’.

As part of the festival this year From Page To Screen is organising a raffle to raise funds for the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian and Afghanistan Crisis Appeals.  There are generous prizes donated by local businesses and festival supporters including a star prize of two places at Mark Hix’s special ‘Kitchen Table Event’ on May 23rd, worth £450 (Mark will be in conversation with festival curator Edith Bowman after the film ‘Boiling Point’ , screening at 8pm on Saturday April 30). Other prizes include a Merino lambswool and silk scarf from Wallace & Sewell worth £120, a selection of vintage soundtrack albums from Clocktower Music and a Super 8 Camera and rolls of film from the festival committee’s Nick Goldsmith, who produced ‘The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’.

Film memorabilia has also been provided by Claire Nuttall from Bridport’s Ukraine Volunteer Group, including a sought after ‘No Time To Die’ Bond 2019 stunt crew t-shirt. Claire says ‘over the past few weeks’ of sorting the mass of donations of humanitarian aid at the warehouse we’ve had use of on St Michael’s Trading Estate we have set aside items for Ukrainian fundraising and will be having a celebratory sale there on the Bank Holiday weekend 10am-4pn April 30-May 2 with music, art, food and drinks alongside a clothes sale featuring everything from jumble bargains to designer and vintage treasures.’

Tom too is providing a raffle prize of a gift box of beer from Gyle 59 brewery plus a bottle of the ‘9.2 Anti Imperial Beetroot Stout’ they specially created for President Zelinsky.  He hopes to give the president a case of it one day, or even vodka from the distillery he is planning to set up at Korcszowa on the Polish border to generate jobs for Ukrainian refugees, accomodation for volunteers and proceeds for sending to Ukraine.

These and other prizes are on display in the Bridport Arts Centre Allsop Gallery alongside the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum exhibition which runs till Saturday April 30.

The £1 raffle tickets can be bought for a single entry or in £10/£20 multiples by texting PAGE2SCREEN to 70215 and they will be drawn at Bridport Arts Centre at 10pm on Sunday May 1.

‘Flee’ is screening at 5pm on Friday April 29 at the Bridport Arts Centre, Tom Littledyke is speaking after the film.

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