Olivia Rae's family organise fundraising variety show

Olivia Rae Clee-Barnett

Olivia Rae Clee-Barnett

First published in News Wirral Globe: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

THE family of a gifted Wirral stage performer who fell victim to swine flu are hoping to help others follow in her creative footsteps by organising a charity variety show.

Olivia Rae Clee-Barnett was just 17-years-old when she died in January 2011 after contracting the H1N1 swine flu virus and a secondary bacterial infection.

Her family launched the Olivia Rae Foundation in her memory in the hope of giving a helping hand to local community groups and individuals.

They wanted to allow her "lively and loud" spirit to live on by backing her two greatest passions – creative arts and education.

Now, in the year that would have seen Olivia celebrate her 21st birthday, the family are organising a variety show at New Brighton's Floral Pavilion, with all proceeds going towards helping the arts.

“We have given more than £6,500 in grants since we started which is not bad for such a small charity mainly funded by the family’s and friends’ own money, explained Olivia's granddad, John.

The charity needs to sell at least 300 tickets to be able to help more youngsters follow their dreams.

A gifted stage performer herself, Olivia appeared alongside her Wallasey School classmates in Sky One's Grease: The School Musical in 2009, beating more than 500 others from across the country to claim the winning spot.

She was also a finalist in the Liverpool Athenaeum Literary competition.

John added: “The aim of the charity is to help young people achieve something they wish to do, mainly in the arts – dance, singing, acting or just education.

“The first grant we gave was to a young man who was at school with Olivia. “He had got a place in a London drama school but could not finish his final year because the school had its funding removed, so we were able to give him the funds which enabled him to finish his course.”

Last year, the charity gave £4,500 to another charity called Cooper Wood, which gave young people the chance to get involved in the world of television and filmmaking.

“These are the type of things we try to do,” explained John.

“We would like to do more but we are only a small charity and the funds need continuously topping up, hence this show. “There are lots of kids out there who would love to be able to try something like learning to dance or sing and cannot afford the fees to do it.”

John added: “Since we set the charity up we have done several things to raise money and as I have been in entertainment for most of my life, the only thing I could do was to produce variety shows.” The tribute show on June 22 will see a number of acts take to the stage, including tributes to Rod Stewart, Phil Collins and Adel.

Wirral’s premier vocalist Billy Myers will also perform a tribute to David Alexander, while musical comedian Larry White will sing his own songs to entertain the audience.

The show starts at 7pm on Sunday, June 22.

Tickets cost £14, plus £1 booking fee and can be purchased from floralpavilion.com or by calling the Box Office on 0151 666 0000.

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