Best Friend of the Year 2015 Announced


Nominated by her friend of 45 years, Manchester’s Bernadette Robinson has been chosen as the ‘Best Friend of 2015’ for her selfless dedication to those around her.

Celebrating the people that we couldn’t live without, the search for the ‘Best Friend of 2015’ has come to an end and the winner is Bernadette Robinson, 51, from Hulme, Manchester. After selflessly attending to friends who have fallen on hard times, as well as tirelessly maintaining the cleanliness of her neighbourhood for the enjoyment of others, she claims this year’s title.

Bernadette’s friendship was highlighted by her friend of nearly half a century, Anne McMullan, 58, from nearby Fallowfield. Anne has come to rely on Bernadette through late 2015 after her benefits payments were stopped, pending appeal, causing Anne to cope with mounting anxiety and financial hardship. Bernadette is also a well-known figure in the community around her home in Davies Square, attending to visitors at the Cornerstones Day Centre and helping City South Housing to stay on top of neighbourhood litter.

 Anne, a mother of one, contacted Z-arts, Manchester’s specialist family arts venue and organisers the competition to celebrate the opening of their Christmas show, SNOW QUEEN, to nominate Bernadette. She says that the support of her friend, who she has known since childhood, has been vital and that the list of good deeds that she wrote in her entry to the competition is just the tip of the iceberg. She will join Bernadette, a former catering worker who has four children and one granddaughter, as Guest of Honour at a performance of SNOW QUEEN.

Anne says: “Whether it’s making sure that the people around her get a meal, or that a homeless person has a pound for something to eat and a listening ear, nothing is too much trouble for Bernadette. It’s been a difficult year for me and I would have been lost without her helping with simple things, like getting to meetings about my benefits. She feeds people’s pets when they are away and spots older people getting confused and lost from the day centre and gets them back to safety. She really deserves to be seen as the Best Friend of the Year for everything she does.”

Z-arts are retelling the story of Hans Christian Andersen’s SNOW QUEEN, a story of devoted friendship, for a modern audience with digital storytelling and vibrant, contemporary characters. They set up the search for the ‘Best Friend of2015’ to celebrate the good deeds being done in North West communities and treat special people to a festive day out.

Liz O’Neill, Artistic Director of Z-arts, said: “We’re so pleased that Anne nominated Bernadette, and that we can offer her tickets to SNOW QUEEN as our Guest of Honour. It takes real strength to be a good friend when the going gets really tough, and Bernadette definitely has what it takes. It comes naturally to her to be around to help when she sees people suffering. The key characters in SNOW QUEEN, Kai and Gerda, rely on each other to get back to safety, which is a good principle for everyone to be reminded of regardless of their age.”

Having put out a call for entries across the North West, Z-arts received a number of worthy entries from the Greater Manchester area, including Trafford, Bolton and Wigan. Bernadette’s prize will be a family ticket to a performance of SNOW QUEEN, which opens on Thursday 3 December, something to eat and drink from the Z-arts Café and tickets for Manchester Ice Rink, now open near Spinningfields in Manchester city centre.

Bernadette says: “I only live a few minutes from the theatre and am looking forward to seeing the show. Helping my friends just comes naturally to be and you don’t expect or want to get anything in return. Life isn’t easy for so many people and you see them struggling in one way or another every day, so offering five minutes to chat, a cup of tea or a few pence for something to eat isn’t too much trouble.”

Aimed at audiences of 7 years old and up, SNOW QUEEN promises a mix of exciting suspense and light-hearted fun as Gerda follows Kai into a cold, online world of hidden dangers, meeting with talking flowers, nosey birds, a grumpy reindeer and other magical creatures on her way. As well as remarkable visuals, an impressive cast of puppets and an original musical score, expressive movement from a cast of five will keep young eyes transfixed.

The Snow Queen is a co-production between Z-arts, The Atkinson in Southport, which receives the show between Wed 16 – Thu 17 December 2015 and Cast in Doncaster staging the show in March

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