Abba night out for people with learning disabilities

Toby Staveley of the Yellow Submarine charity has organised a showing of the film Mamma Mia with a meal afterwards. Pictures: OX53087 Jon Lewis

Toby Staveley of the Yellow Submarine charity has organised a showing of the film Mamma Mia with a meal afterwards. Pictures: OX53087 Jon Lewis

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

PEOPLE with learning difficulties and their families will be the centre of attention at a red carpet event later this month.

More than 200 people are expected to attend a glamourous gala screening of Mamma Mia, enjoying celebrity treatment and an after party.

The event will run at the Phoenix Picturehouse in Jericho on Saturday and will include a welcome video message by film cast member Dominic Cooper.

It has been organised in response to a Mencap report that showed a quarter of people with learning difficulties in the UK spend less than one hour outside their homes each day. The report Stuck at Home said this often left them feeling isolated and alone.

Attending the event will be 34-year-old Deborah Stranack with her boyfriend Anthony Bishop. They both have learning difficulties and met at the Albany Day Centre in Chipping Norton.

Deborah’s mum Colette said: “It will be brilliant for them. It is not often they get to go out together and do things that other couples do all the time.

“They will feel as though they are having a completely independent night out, even though there will be people there to make sure they are ok.”

The event has been organised by Yellow Submarine, which runs regular monthly residential holidays and weekly day trips for people with learning disabilities.

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Mrs Stranack said: “They are brilliant. I always wanted Deborah to have a similar social life to her younger brother and sister.

“She could see them going out, or on holiday with friends, and I wanted her to do the same. So this is perfect.

“We live in a village with no bus service so Deborah has no independence whatsoever. They have been looking forward to this night for a long time.”

Charity founder Toby Staveley said: “Mamma Mia is a hugely popular film amongst both the children and adults we support with a feel-good factor and celebration of friendship.

“In contrast to the negative news that is so prevalent, we want to create a positive community event for disabled people to look forward to and see that they’re not alone.”

Prizes will be given for the best fancy dress.

It is exclusively for people with learning difficulties and their carers or parents.

  • To register for tickets, visit


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