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Let's Get This Show On The Road!

Introducing The Play House's Exciting Story Bike Fundraiser!

It takes a lot to stop a story. The occasional snow day, broken boiler, flood or global pandemic. It is true to say that the pandemic has had a significant effect on us all and some of those changes are here to stay. But what is equally certain is that stories have got us through so far and will help us process this time in the future. We need the stories more than ever. Along with everybody else, The Play House’s work has been significantly impacted and we have seen a considerable reduction in ability to deliver our schools touring programme and secure funding for new projects.

We started to think about how we could maintain high levels of meaningful participation and still social distance, so that The Play House could return to schools. “Do it outside?” check. “Smaller groups?” check. “Children find or bring their own things to create a story?” Hmm, OK! A bit like “Uncle’s Story Shop” (our EYS and Key Stage 1 programme), a sort of Mr. Benn meets Bagpuss where children select from the assembled bric-a-brac on Uncle’s shop shelves, and he spontaneously draws them together in stories.

And then… well, then I found these photos at my parents’ house.

This is me, aged about 5 or 6 on an ice cream trike at a trade fair in Blackpool. You see, my dad was an ice cream man and our holidays, growing up, involved going to the annual week-long trade fairs in October.

My brother and I used to play with the old trike in the yard at the back of our house.

Then came photo number 2.

This is my Dad in the 1950’s selling ice cream on the island at Franche near Habberley Valley.

Somebody was trying to tell me something!

Then the lovely people at “The Real Junk Food Project” posted that they had an electric cargo bike, and “Would any one like to use it for a good purpose?”. I suddenly had a lightbulb moment and came up with the idea of doing a Storytelling bike fundraising challenge for The Play House, where I cycled part of the number 11 bus route and stopped off at schools telling stories on the way. Here was a way that I could revisit my heritage and that of The Play House (when The Play House first began 34 years ago, Steve Ball toured the schools of Balsall Heath with his props and costumes on a grocer’s barrow). Perhaps we might raise some money, and we’d certainly draw attention to ourselves and the situation. A plan began to form.

And that, dear reader, is how, in about half an hour, I am going to try the trike on the road for the first time, in the rain, before I make a serious attempt at bringing stories to schools on the North Face of the No. 11 bus route later in November.

If you see me out and about give me a wave, blow your horn, ring your bell - or better still, chuck a few quid our way. Malcolm Jennings The Play House Teacher/Actor --------------------------------------------- It will come as no surprise that due to the COVID-19 pandemic The Play House’s work has been significantly impacted, and now we need your support to continue our work. On the week commencing 16th November, Malcolm, our very own travelling storyteller, will be getting on his story-bike and cycling the Number-11 bus route here in Birmingham at the heart of where the Play House began. He'll be stopping off along the way at schools to make some new friends along the way (prioritising COVID safety, and following all social distancing guidelines from Public Health England and the Department of Education).

Along Malcolm’s journey, children will choose trinkets objects and oddities from the story-bike, and then will join in as Malcolm weaves their choices into a unique exciting tale before their eyes.

If you would like to find out more about our fundraiser, please visit:

Or donate using the Givey button below:

Thank you! To follow the progress of the story telling bike challenge and keep up-to-date on The Play House and our work, please follow us on our social media channels:

Instagram: @theplayhousebham

Twitter: @playhousebham

Facebook: @theplayhouseonline

LinkedIn: @The Play House


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