My name is Jo Miles. I have been a Stage Manager in the West End for more years than I can even remember! I have opened musicals such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Sound Of Music, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, Love Never Dies & The Wizard Of Oz and am about to embark on Stephen Ward which opens later this year.
About this time last year a friend very close to my heart, Matt, was only 36 years old when he was diagnosed with a rare non-curable Neuroendocrine cancer (Nets).
Although he no longer worked in theatre he had spent many years on the crew along with his brothers on Phantom at Her Majesty's and then as a fly man on Chitty at the Palladium, which is where we met. He was a big fun personality who was a true gentleman and much loved in theatre and by everyone who came across him. He was infectious.
The more I researched this cancer the more I realised how rare and complex it was. Only 3-5 people out of 100,000 in the UK are diagnosed each year with Nets - and by the time 50% are diagnosed the cancer has already spread. Enough, I thought!
Although I knew I was unable to help his situation or him in any practical sense I couldn't sit and do nothing! I'm a Stage Manager after all!
It was in about February this year when over a few glasses of wine with friends on my birthday we decided a few of us would do a run. It started with four of us. I for one had never run before - but after a few glasses of wine was fearless! A friend found a run in Richmond Park that just happened to be 10k. It had to be a good few months away as never having run for a bus before I needed to train!
I started by asking for messages of support from high-profile people in our industry and other shows, and they came flooding in. I made contact with the Net Patient Foundation, the charity who knew Matt well and who printed posters for me to distribute to the theatres.
Over the weeks and months a few more people wanted to join, at which point I thought wouldn't it be great if we could get as many people from across all the shows as possible.
Team West Enders was born! The word of mouth through the shows spread and before I knew it I had received an email saying three cast members at Book Of Mormon who I had never met wanted to join us - that was an emotional day!
There are currently 23 of us running from nine different shows across the West End including representatives from shows such as Stephen Ward, Jersey Boys, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Rock Of Ages, Bodyguard, Book Of Mormon, Billy Elliot
, and From Here To Eternity.
We are running in memory of Matt to promote awareness for Neuroendocrine Cancer and money for the Net Patient Foundation who are the only charity in the UK & Ireland who offer support for patients and families affected by Nets and who ultimately rely on fundraising for much needed research. We hope that in our small way we can make a difference to people suffering with Nets and that one day a cure can be found.
It will be a day that Matt would approve of - lots of banter, probably at my expense, and just a few drinks of celebration!
We run on Sunday 27th October in Richmond Park. Come and show your support for all these shows that are uniting for a common cause.