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Bradford College tutor gets Royal invitation

Damien O’Keeffe, Drama Lecturer, Bradford College

A dedicated drama teacher from Bradford is heading to Buckingham Palace for the Prince of Wales’ birthday celebrations.

Damien O’Keeffe, who works at Bradford College, will be a guest at a garden party on Tuesday, May 22 at which Prince Charles will celebrate his 70th year with friends from more than 400 charities.

The Prince turns 70 in November and the garden party will kick off a series of celebrations for the heir to the throne. The guest list includes representatives of each of the charities of which he is a patron and the military regiments with which he is affiliated.

Damien’s invitation came as a result of his work at Bradford College with the Royal Shakespeare Company, of which the Prince is president. The college is a Lead Associate School for the RSC which means it works in partnership with the world-famous theatre company, and Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre, to bring Shakespeare’s work to school children across the region through workshops and performance projects. The college is one of only a handful of schools and college’s nationwide to have lead school status within the RSC’s education programme.

“It is a great honour to be invited to represent what we are doing in Bradford with the RSC,” said Damien.

“We work with teachers, students and school children across the city to develop their skills and knowledge of Shakespeare.

“There will be representatives of the acting company, the board of the RSC and other members of the education team. It is lovely recognition for the education work being in Bradford and indeed across the country.”

The drama lecturer won’t be the only garden party guest with Bradford College links. Former student Kirk Wilber-Moran has also received one of the coveted invitations. Kirk, who studied performing arts and dance at the college between 2000 and 2002, is events manager for Prince Charles’ youth charity, The Prince’s Trust, in Yorkshire, Humber and the North East.

Kirk said: “My role is to deliver large-scale fundraising events to suit a wide range of audiences. All the money raised goes towards supporting thousands of young people from across the North to gain the skills and experience they need to turn their lives around.”

Damien added: “I spotted a message on the college’s alumni social media from Kirk saying that he was going so I messaged him saying I will see him there.

“It will be really nice to see him and catch up and it is great to think that there will be a Bradford College presence at the event.”

The Prince is patron or president of more than 400 organisations, focusing on topics ranging from the environment to youth opportunity, food sustainability, architecture and faith.

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