30 Silver Street, Reading, RG1 2ST

Highlights of 2019

Damien's picture

We asked our team to look back on the year and pick out their highlights of 2019. We got a heady mix of memories that reflects the great programme of events and experiences held at the centre this year...


  • RVA's Volunteer Awards Evening - it felt very fancy to be drinking prosecco at the top of Thames Tower and it's always lovely to be able to recognise the hard work of volunteers throughout Reading.
  • Here Comes The Sun - obvious choice but a couple of stand out moments. We were ready before 11am(!!) thanks to all the hard work on the days/nights leading up to the festival. Plus, Adam & Elvis headline set was so much fun.
  • Trip to Leeds for the launch of the Guild project was great, it's such a valuable project to be chosen for and we continue to look forward to what it brings.


Quite a few highlights for me too. It's hard to select just a few but I tried anyway:

  • Prepping for Here Comes the Sun. My favourite part is when we go through all the amazing pieces of art made by the Move Up project to decorate the Sky stage. They excelled themselves again this year
  • Our Volunteer Week garden tea party. It just looked so lovely with the tablecloths, the vintage teacups, the flowers. And I had such a great time just relaxing and chatting with everybody (in between laying the floor in the upstairs room)
  • Having a card machine behind the bar! And even better than that, see the surprise on people’s face when they go ‘oh and of course, you don’t accept card!’ and I tell them that we do J
  • Both Ahmad Alazami’s exhibitions. As a visitor, I just loved his work, it was so beautiful and moving. As a volunteer, I felt proud we put the exhibition on
  • And more recently, I thought the Big Untidy night with A.F. Harrold, Grant Sharkey and Blues Dharma was one of the best Big Untidy I attended. Ok, I was behind the bar and didn’t see / hear all of it but there was very special atmosphere that night, truly magical


Lots of Highlights!!

  • All of the Vixen nights.
  • Every time I do the bar - great people all of the time.
  • The world yoga festival was amazing (the opportunity was because of the centre). Was an amazing wet weekend where I learned I can GLITTER. But we took the centre out the feeling and warmth of us.
  • Joining again in the Whitley Parade. Building a giant Meanie and burning it with the skills Genius Ideas learned together.
  • Working with Genius Ideas - making, building, creating is always a great time love them all.
  • AYL was fun again. Met lots of great volunteers a fun day.
  • Not to mention (HCTS) But I had a great time with glitter and bubbles HIGHLIGHTS Being involved with the best people! Like Julie said, putting the Sky Stage art up is great fun hard work challenging trying to work out how to hang all the art Fun Fun. The Move Up love it.


  • Ma Bessie finally coming back to the centre (after a couple of false starts) for a really great evening of jazz and blues
  • Supporting Dick Valentine once again for another great Club V
  • Being part of the Zap Show for the Fringe, even if it did involve wearing a polyester chicken outfit on the hottest day of the year
  • Stevie Wonder Tribute Night had, I think, the highest overall quality of performances of any Tribute Night so far
  • And, of course, HCTS, with one of the most diverse line-ups we've had, and the extra art around the centre (lots of which is still around!)


Apart from the obvious HCTS, I was chuffed to do sound for Artmagic featuring Suede guitarist Richard Oakes and have a chat with him about Suede's recent albums and their Night Thoughts film.


  • Re-building the huge dancefloor in the Upstairs room together with a team of wonderful volunteers.. It was a real challenge with many difficulties, but we got it done, and it's something everyone who contributed fund-raising and who put in so much hard physical work can feel very proud of! A real team-work win!
  • HCTS: I look forward to this every year, and this years' was exceptionally awesome from start to finish!


HCTS is always full of nice surprises, but best of all was the RVA awards. You can feel a bit taken for granted sometimes so it was nice to get nominated and your efforts recognised, also nice was the chance to recognise the hard work of volunteers throughout Reading and that their efforts are appreciated too. (Having a tipple at the top of Thames Tower was a bonus. I can honestly say I've never heard of some building in town called The Blade...)


  • One of the  standout events for me was the Greenpeace fundraising event in September. The Rising Sun has always been supportive in the past of putting these events on and the same happened again with this event. What I have always liked about the Rising Sun when putting events on they always go the extra distance with helping and supporting.
  • The centre also put on a variety of classes  which I find interesting. I have joined the evening vocal  acting class on a Thursday as always wanted to gain some skills in that area. I also use the rising sun for Open Mind Film night on Tuesdays.


  • Here Comes The Sun - I haven't been at one for quite a while and loved every minute.
  • The Zap Show at the fringe ' The best piece of experimental theatre I've ever seen' was one quote.
  • I popped in to the Balboa Tea Dance and the centre looked amazing.
  • And the volunteer meeting in September. Great to see so many volunteers happy to focus on thinking about who we are and what we do. Very encouraging.

Looking forward to 2020.

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