Sisters to host handclapping fundraiser to help save popular restaurant and cinema

The Spallettes are going to raise money for The Riverside Picture: AMY SPALL

The Spallettes are going to raise money for The Riverside Picture: AMY SPALL - Credit: Archant

A group of theatrical sisters are producing a special fundraising video to help save the Riverside Theatre, in Woodbridge.

Riverside Restaurant in Woodbridge will become A Listers Picture: GREGG BROWN

Riverside Restaurant in Woodbridge will become A Listers Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Sisters and performers, Amy, Katy and Helen Spall, known as the Spallettes, have decided to raise money for the theatre they have spent years performing in by creating a special handclapping routine.

The routine will see around 70 people virtually clap together from the safety of their own homes.

The sisters hope that the video will help to raise money for the venue they spent most of their childhood in with theatre group Company of Four, which was run by their father Don, who died a few years ago.

“Dad saw this routine on an old variety show performance and worked to put in his show,” said Helen.


The Riverside in Woodbridge complex has been closed since March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

MORE: Riverside to become a bar as temporary measure after lockdown

A temporary solution has been found to keep the restaurant space going but there are now concerns for the venue’s theatre, which expects to re-open at the end of July but with greatly reduced income and capacity.

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Owner Stuart Saunders was also recently in hospital after he became ill with what was first suspected to be a mini stroke but has now been confirmed to be a stress related condition.

Helen continued: “I started my own company, Caburlesque, and this clapping routine got us onto Britain’s Got Talent.”

She and her sisters all work in theatre and so were left unemployed when the pandemic hit.

Helen choreographed the routine and recruited a few others for the first video before deciding to embark on a more ambitious project with 70 people doing the routine.

“The response was just extraordinary,” she said.

“It gave people something to do, but then we started to hear about how much trouble the Riverside was in.”

Many of those who were already involved in the video had links to theatre and in particular the Riverside, leading the sisters to decide to use their fun project as a fundraiser.

“It seemed like a good plan to make our special little dance project into something more meaningful,” she said.

The finishing touches are being put to the feature length video, which will be released next week.

The sister’s crowdfunding page for the theatre is already live here.

The Riverside’s owner Stuart Saunders said he was delighted to hear of the fundraiser.

Mr Saunders said: “It’s a huge surprise.

“They have been part of my life. I have watched them grow up. I’m flattered.”

Mr Saunders said he welcomed the fundraising efforts at what was proving to be a difficult time for his business.

While the restaurant portion of the Riverside is set to reopen in a new form the cinema will have to take in less people; a maximum of 60 per show to comply with social distancing.

The restrictions won’t be able to cover costs let alone look after the building which is over 100 years old.

Mr Saunders said that theatre has already taken grants from the Government and the British Film Institute to keep going.

“It’s a very old building that needs maintenance,” said Mr Saunders.

“We are moving at one cylinder at the moment.”

The final video is set to be released next week but the crowdfunding page is already live.