Strictly Come Dancing legend, Angela Rippon CBE, compered a glittering High Sheriff Command Performance in Bury St Edmunds last night (March 20), helping the High Sheriff of Suffolk to raise a staggering £55,000 for local charities.  

The triumphant evening, hosted by the outgoing High Sheriff, Mark Pendlington DL, unfolded at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds and was watched by a full house.

An impressive £55,000 was raised for the High Sheriff’s Fund, managed by Suffolk Community Foundation, and for Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. 

East Anglian Daily Times: L - Gary Avis MBE, Emma Suckling, Tim Holder, Angela Rippon CBE, Mark Pendlington DL, Ellie Piercy, Christina ArestisL - Gary Avis MBE, Emma Suckling, Tim Holder, Angela Rippon CBE, Mark Pendlington DL, Ellie Piercy, Christina Arestis (Image: Tom Soper Photography)
Highlights of the evening included ballet performances by Gary Avis MBE and Christina Arestis of The Royal Ballet Company, show-stopping songs from the London Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir and Suffolk opera singer, Christina Johnston, a performance of It's My Crown by some of the cast of Bury's last pantomime, Snow White, and a finale featuring the stunning vocals of Izo FitzRoy singing Lean on Me with the whole cast. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Gary Avis MBE & Christina Arestis of The Royal Ballet CompanyGary Avis MBE & Christina Arestis of The Royal Ballet Company (Image: Tom Soper Photography)
Cheryl Knight, with her repetoire of Joyce Grenfell skits, also went down well, as did Angela Rippon's spontaneous banter with co-compere Tim Holder, director of engagement for the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.  

Tim said Angela has received a stunning reception in Bury St Edmunds earlier in the day with numerous people coming up to tell her how much they'd been inspired by her nine-week run on Strictly Come Dancing. 

The High Sheriff said: "This special evening was all about Suffolk being at its best and most generous. Everyone came together to help target funding and support to those who need and deserve it the most, many of whom I have had the privilege of meeting during my time as High Sheriff. A big Suffolk thank you to everyone who made this wonderful evening such a resounding success."

East Anglian Daily Times:  L - Melanie Craig, Mark Pendlington, Owen Calvert-Lyons L - Melanie Craig, Mark Pendlington, Owen Calvert-Lyons (Image: Tom Soper Photography)
Owen Calvert-Lyons, Artistic Director and CEO of Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds was delighted the Theatre had been selected as one of the charities to benefit from the event. 

"We were very proud to host this wonderful occasion," he said. "It was an evening showcasing enormous talent on our stage, raising funds for the very best of causes in Suffolk.

"At Theatre Royal, we raise over 18% of our income through fundraising and proceeds from this evening will help us to continue our work in the community, reaching 9000 people each year through our participation programme and working with 84 schools annually.

"We are so grateful to all those who supported this event."

The evening's live charity auction, conducted by Edward Crichton ASFAV of Lacy Scott & Knight, included exclusive experiences such an evening for Two with Gary Avis and The Royal Ballet Company, where you can watch from the wings, as he performs in one of the Royal Ballet Classic Productions. A Champagne twilight rooftop tour of St Edmundsbury Cathedral and a guided Tour of Elveden Hall, given by Lord Iveagh, were also snapped up.

In addition to the Live Auction, a Golden Ticket Prize Draw offered the lucky winner the chance to luxuriate in an overnight stay at Milsoms Kesgrave's brand new Gatehouse Suite, complete with dinner and a spa day.

Melanie Craig, Chief Executive, Suffolk Community Foundation said: “Charities across Suffolk are working tirelessly to support people in our communities, facing so many challenges right now. The money raised will enable them to continue their vital work.”

Sponsors of the event included main sponsor Birketts LLP, Abbeygate Wealth Management, Chassis Cab, SunEnviro and SMART Modular Buildings.

Although the gala has concluded, The High Sheriff of Suffolk's Legacy Auction is live online now until 8pm Sunday, March 24th. To view auction lots and consider bidding, visit