Marathon Fundraiser for Blue Apple Theatre

Marathon Fundraiser for Blue Apple Theatre

A former volunteer at Hampshire charity Blue Apple is running the London Marathon to help people with learning disabilities take part in performing arts activities which increase their confidence and reduce their isolation.

Seb Longman volunteered at Blue Apple Theatre during their production of The Tempest in 2019. Deeply moved by his experience, he has decided to support Blue Apple by running in the London Marathon on 23 April.

Blue Apple provides opportunities for people with learning disabilities to take part in acting, dancing, singing and film, enjoy performing with others, build self-confidence and communication skills and show their talents. Taking part in such activities is often not open to people with learning disabilities and they can feel excluded and socially isolated.

It is now well known that loneliness has serious impacts on mental and physical health, but sadly there are fewer options for people with learning disabilities to overcome isolation. The charity Mencap has found people with a learning disability have fewer chances to take part in leisure activities or socialise, and therefore may have fewer friends than other people. Research commissioned by national charity Hft, showed that for many people with learning disabilities, feeling disconnected is a longstanding experience, with a third of those surveyed saying they did not feel part of their local community.

Blue Apple performing The Tempest.

Part of the solution, identified in recommendations made by NICE (National Institute for Health Care and Excellence) is to allow people with learning disabilities to build and maintain relationships to reduce isolation and to develop their strengths and skills. This is what Blue Apple aims to achieve through performing arts.

Blue Apple’s Artistic Director Richard Conlon explains how the charity works: “Blue Apple is all sorts of things to all sorts of people. We know that we can’t be everything to everyone but lots of adults with a learning disability have been coming to our sessions over 17 years now, some to just see what they can do in performance, some to give them the skills to try and be professional performers – which they’re often excluded from. For all the people involved, it increases their communication, increases their confidence and their social skills so we’re trying to do all of those things through storytelling, trying to be entertaining, but trying to change the world one performance at a time. It’s a wonderful charity and I’m privileged to be able to work with them. We all really appreciate Seb’s tremendous fundraising effort and wish him the very best.”

One person who has benefited from Blue Apple is Sam, a young man in his 20s who struggles with communication and social interaction, especially in group settings and unfamiliar places. He heard about Blue Apple when he was at Osborne School in Winchester, where he loved to appear in school plays. Wanting to continue his acting after leaving school, Sam joined Blue Apple and now performs in major productions at the Theatre Royal Winchester.  He has had many leading roles, for example, as Peter in The Railway Children; Frank in Pinnochia; and Macbeth in Macbeth.

Sam said: “Blue Apple is a theatre company that allows people like me to prove to other people out there that we can be something more than just people who are having to deal with their disability. It helps me to realise that I am not alone.”

His mum Sally says acting with Blue Apple has been a huge confidence boost for Sam: “Sam does not make friends easily and has difficulties understanding some types of communication. It’s been wonderful to see his confidence grow through acting.”

The London Marathon takes place on Sunday, April 23. You can support Blue Apple by sponsoring Seb at:


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