The seventh Loving Linda comedy gala is taking place this August at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in tribute to the amazing comedian Linda Smith, who sadly passed away from ovarian cancer in 2006. Warren Lakin, her partner for 23 years, tells us why the events matter so much.
Since its inception in May 2010, 'the 'Loving Linda' gala has been raising funds for Target Ovarian Cancer. So far, around £125,000 has been donated from six very successful shows at The Rose Theatre, Kingston. This year we are heading for the bright lights of the Edinburgh Fringe with a spectacular two hour comedy gala at the prestigious Music Hall, Assembly Rooms on the evening of 19 August.
We fully expect 700 gleeful ticket holders to be packing out one of the Festival's best and most famous venues and helping to raise more cash for the series of Being Together events which were started as an initiative of the 'Loving Linda' Fund.
For me, this is a very special return to The Fringe with a show paying tribute to my late partner, the great and much loved comedian and writer Linda Smith.
A particularly poignant tribute
Linda died from ovarian cancer in February 2006 and her passing set off a bewildering series of memorials in the following months which included concert tributes in London at the historic Victoria Palace Theatre; at Sheffield's Lyceum Theatre (Linda's second city where she was a student), and a particularly poignant tribute show at the Edinburgh Fringe at the Assembly Rooms, organised by other comedians and promoters.
From the start, I insisted that proceeds from any Linda-flavoured events (including the two books I was commissioned to produce about Linda's life and work) would go to various charities that Linda had favoured, and to health charities that had either supported Linda during her illness or assisted me after her passing.
I was introduced to Annwen Jones (picture above with myself and Mark Thomas at the Loving Linda gala in 2014) and Joanna Barker and the rest is history. I am proud to have been associated with Target Ovarian Cancer from its early days and to have witnessed its impressive growth into such an effective and compassionate campaigning organisation.
Loving and unstinting support to her memory
To me, it was obvious that I should lend my support to people who were striving to educate others about this cruel disease which had cut down my lovely partner of 23 years. If it meant using Linda's name and fame from BBC TV and Radio 4 to promote the cause, then all to the good. Her many friends in the comedy and general entertainment world have given loving and unstinting support to her memory and have completely understood the significance of fundraising for this important charity.
She was a highly respected comedian but much more than that, she was a dedicated public campaigner herself for social justice, equality, humanism, and a life long supporter of the NHS and public health awareness.
Buy tickets for the Loving Linda comedy gala, taking place at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on 19 August. See the poster above for the amazing line-up.