Case Study: Warwick Davis (Comicus in the community)
Nacro Education (Spalding) provides an alternative to college for 16-18 year olds. Nacro students may have struggled at school or attended alternative provision, and some of the students may have had disruption to their studies due to personal issues. Nacro Education Spalding provides a highly supportive educational environment to build confidence in a small group setting. The staff are specialist in supporting the development of personal and social skills, and 80% of the students go on to college, work, or an apprenticeship. Nacro caters for young people who, despite being outside of mainstream post-GCSE education, can achieve vocational qualifications in childcare, employment skills, retail and child care, as well as GCSE maths and English. The college recruit all year so students can work towards qualifications at any point in the year
Nacro Education was proud of their new building and refurbishment. The student population was growing but saw this opening as a way of promoting the establishment, making it known to a wider community. However, there was no budget for marketing, PR or advertising to help promote this event. The feeling was if they could arrange a high-profile guest which fitted the organisations values to open the new building and speak to the students it would gain much needed media interest and publicity.
Nacro contacted the Comicus office. We approached international film star Warwick Davis, who despite becoming a leading actor Warwick, had his own issues in life to overcome before performing in high profile films, becoming a major name across the world. Warwick is in demand all over the globe, but gives his time generously when he can. Comicus explained the project and the Educational establishment to him, finding a date in his packed diary we secured Warwick’s attendance at the college.
Warwick Davis opened the new building as well as giving a Q&A session to the students telling them “Always follow your dreams, be ambitious, don’t shy away from a challenge and do something you enjoy.” Warwick with his wife Samantha was keen to meet everyone sharing much of his own life experiences. He said ‘I particularly wanted to come here because I think the centre is really inspiring and doing great things for young people. When I was growing up, I had a lot of challenges going through school, even though it was really good and the teachers there made accommodations for me. My parents told the school ‘Don’t give Warwick an easy ride because we want him to be challenged’ and I was challenged, both physically and academically.” The students were delighted to hear this and were further enthralled when Warwick discussed his experiences of working on blockbuster movies, such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and his breakthrough film, Willow. He said “If you want to succeed, do something that you enjoy.” The day ended with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Warwick was honored by accepting an Ambassador role from the College, both he and Samantha were looking forward to supporting this exciting, developing Nacro Education (Spalding).
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.