Philip French


Managing Director at Peachy Productions and Peachy Playhouse

When COVID brought the country to a standstill and shut down the events industry I like many wondered how my business was going to survive. I decided to take matters into my own hands and create my own event, specifically a drive in live events space – #peachyplayhouse. The motive; to generate much needed revenue for my business Peachy Productions.

Then I met Hannah Sheppard. Hannah understood right from the beginning that COVID would have a profound effect on people’s mind body and soul in a way that I couldn’t and still don’t totally understand.

Picket Fencing was the key. Our gardens were designed by parents for parents. Providing space for families to be able to exit their cars and sit together outdoors was important but being able to see others doing the same was vital.

Carers brought their clients and we worked with them to make them feel at home and adapted our surroundings so they could have extra space for equipment, security, and peace of mind. Cancer patients undergoing treatment attended and felt overwhelmed to be out but relived to be able to experience a happy time after a gruelling lockdown. Families with terminally ill children created happy memories watching their children dance and laugh at our family entertainment sessions. And people terrified to leave their homes made the brave decision to come too and we saw them breath.

We, at the Peachy Playhouse, watched our community smile, we watched them relax and we watched them embrace this experience leaving happy, positive, and filled with hope.

Hannah will never forget one guest a mother and son. The mother, held on to her child for dear life, terrified of our invisible, deadly virus and worried they would be contaminated, it was so emotional to see. But to be able to welcome them from a distance, listen to their concerns, talk them through the safety measures, how the event would operate and how we would be on hand should they need anything was so important. This mother let go, she slowly loosened her hold on her son, he in turn started to relax and then the smiles came through. Before long, the son was dancing, and the mother was laughing with him. They relaxed, they grew in confidence and they faced their fears with us at the Playhouse. We created the opportunity for this mother and son to relax and for that moment just enjoy the great outdoors and some amazing entertainment together with their community.

At the beginning Hannah and I talked about mental health. I didn’t really understand, as I was looking at the commercial opportunity. Hannah, however, saw the bigger picture. She understood how hard Lockdown had been and how equally hard it would be for our community, but the ripple effect flowed through our industry to. The Playhouse brought staff back together, entertainers back to the stage, bands reunited, and comedians hearing people laughing LIVE. The Playhouse did far more than entertain others. It gave our industry friends hope, it showed the power of collaboration, it brought a new level of emotion as together we saw the happiness and joy beam from our audiences. The Playhouse united us all at a time of need and together we achieved something we were all immensely proud of, a community of hope, joy and happy memories.

As we move from summer into winter, more than ever, live events will become more and more important, it is vital our industry delivers what it does best, incredible, imaginative live events because the public don’t just want but need them.

Written for my Linked in Page