Kenton For Keeps Press Release


 PRESS RELEASE: 1st October 2020

Embargoed online, in print and on social media until 00:01 (BST) 1st October 2020.


The Kenton Theatre announce

fundraising campaign


  • The Kenton Theatre set a target to raise £35,000, hoping to match the £35,000 received from the Arts Council England Emergency Response Fund, supported by the National Lottery.
  • Mary Berry, Simon Williams, Pam Ayres, Mike Sterling and others speak out to support Kenton For Keeps.

The Kenton Theatre, the UK’s fourth-oldest working theatre based in the centre of Henley-on-Thames, has today announced its plans to raise £35,000 through their fundraising campaign Kenton For Keeps. Like most theatres in the UK the Kenton Theatre has suffered financially during the COVID-19 pandemic when it had to close its doors to the public in March.

The Kenton Theatre received financial aid from the Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Fund, supported by the National Lottery, in May 2020. The Kenton has set a target to match the £35,000 received through its own fundraising campaign. Asking the public to generously support the intimate 240 seat theatre will help invest in the venue’s immediate future. With 70% of theatres warning they will run out of cash by the end of the year The Kenton want to preserve the heritage of the theatre, and keep it safe for the generations to come.

Local actor to Henley and West End actor Mike Sterling (The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera and Jean Valjean in Les Misérables) will be hosting an online, live stream concert in the coming weeks to support the Kenton Theatre. The date for the live stream will be announced shortly.

British stage and screen actor Simon Williams, known for playing the role of James Bellamy in the ITV BAFTA award-winning Upstairs, Downstairs, National treasure Mary Berry and comedian/poet Pam Ayres all show their support towards Kenton For Keeps.


Julie Huntington, Chair of the trustees at The Kenton Theatre said:

“With not being able to do our job – that is, entertain and delight our audiences for the last 6 months, this period has had a huge financial impact on our beloved Kenton Theatre. She, The Kenton, the “Grand Old Lady” of theatre, 215 years old this year, has survived many battles. Built in the time of the Napoleonic Wars, she has come through many testing times, including bankruptcy, abandonment and two world wars. This latest challenge however – this unseen enemy, Covid-19, is probably one of the most difficult to overcome, but overcome we will and this is where the local community and the Kenton’s patrons are so very important to her survival. This is also why the new Board of Trustees are very excited to relaunch the highly successful “Kenton for Keeps” campaign that saw the purchase of the freehold of the theatre back in 2011 and would urge audiences, past and present and FUTURE to support the campaign as much as they can. We shall shortly be publishing our plans for the future. Our “Grand Old Lady”, The Kenton Theatre is a much-loved landmark of Henley, we want to make sure that we secure her future for generations to come.”

Mike Sterling, local actor and supporter of The Kenton Theatre said:

“It’s vital that all the public near and far, get behind this campaign for such a piece of national treasure as the Kenton. There are not many venues like this and its preservation is vital. I believe also that Henley can indeed set a benchmark for venues such as The Kenton. It’s only when these venues disappear that people truly realise what they have lost in their midst. Personally, I truly ‘feel’ the Kenton and what it stands for. If everyone was to get behind our cause and support it, the long-term financial impact for them is minimal, but for The Kenton, it’s a case of it flourishing.”

Mary Berry, supporter of The Kenton Theatre said:

“The Kenton Theatre is one of the treasures of Henley. Please support ‘Kenton For Keeps’ – a historic icon of Henley and it needs to be here forever.”

Simon Williams, supporter of The Kenton Theatre said:

“I love the theatre, I love theatre in general, I love the buildings, the actors, the idea of audiences gather to watch a story being told – in particular I love The Kenton Theatre. Please help support the Kenton during these grim times.”

Pam Ayres, supporter of The Kenton Theatre said:

“I’ve been appearing at the Kenton Theatre now for many years and have always loved it! I’ve been there for literary festivals and to do my own show on many occasions and I’ve always come away thinking what a valuable place it is. I’m appealing to you today to donate whatever you can to help keep The Kenton open. Please help us ensure that The Kenton Theatre is here for the future generations in Henley and for everyone who is interested in theatre to come along and enjoy.”



For further information and press enquiries please contact:

Sam Shepherd I E:

John Potter I E: I M: 07889 418 863


Text KEEPKENTON and the amount you wish to donate to 70085, for example text KEEPKENTON 10 to 70085 to donate £10.  Texts cost the amount of your donation plus one standard rate message (SMS).

Visit to donate online.


Twitter:         @KentonTheatre

Facebook:     /KentonTheatre

Instagram:    @kentonTheatreHenley

Hashtag:       #KentonForKeeps



 Depending on government restrictions The Kenton Theatre hopes to welcome the following shows and artists to the theatre in 2021:

 Patti Boulaye’s Aretha and Me

Ben Hart: Wonder (as seen on BGT)

Peter Butterworth & Janet Brown: Their Untold Story

Cyphers Theatre Company’s Great Expectations

Pam Ayres – Up in the Attic

Blake Live in Concert

Sean Walsh – Same Again?

Kerry Godliman: BOSH



Situated in the centre of Henley-on-Thames, the Kenton Theatre is the fourth-oldest working theatre in the UK and a registered charity. Seating 240, the theatre offers a varied programme of comedy, drama, music, talks and more – as well as being available for hire.

The theatre is home to annual performances from Henley Amateur Operatic and Drama Society (HAODS), Henley Children’s Theatre, Henley Drama Festival, Henley Literary Festival, Henley Players, Henley Youth Festival, Mike Hurst, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO), Woodley Light Operatic Society, amongst others. High-profile performers at the Kenton in recent years include Michael McIntyre, Georgie Fame, Hayley Mills, Chris Barber, Dara O’Briain, Diana Rigg, Russell Brand, PP Arnold and Marti Webb.

The theatre’s first production, the farce The School of Reform took place on November 7th 1805. Celebrated performers who have graced the Kenton stage over the last five decades include Celia Johnson, John Mortimer, Anthony Newley, Kate Winslet, Tom Baker, Joe Brown, Diana Dors, David Essex, Roy Hudd and Jeremy Irons.