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TV show shines a spotlight on ‘Gig Buddies’ volunteering scheme

PUBLISHED: 13:38 04 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:39 04 March 2019

Ruth Cordle at work at the Stepping Stones Cafe, Norwich.  Photo: Nicola Cordle

Ruth Cordle at work at the Stepping Stones Cafe, Norwich. Photo: Nicola Cordle

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A Norwich scheme aimed at matching up music fans with learning difficulties with like-minded volunteers has been highlighted on a BBC TV show, with a Dereham woman and her ‘Gig Buddy’ featured as one of the first to be paired up.

Ruth Cordle watching her beloved Norwich City. Ruth, 27, will now be able to attend  events with a new 'Gig Buddy', thanks to a scheme run by the learning disability chariy Mencap. Photo: Nicola Cardle Photo: Nicola CordleRuth Cordle watching her beloved Norwich City. Ruth, 27, will now be able to attend events with a new 'Gig Buddy', thanks to a scheme run by the learning disability chariy Mencap. Photo: Nicola Cardle Photo: Nicola Cordle

Ruth Cordle, 27, already has a busy life, helping out at the Mid-Norfolk Foodbank, taking part in activities run by Independence Matters, Dereham, and attending Dereham and District Gateway Club, which provides social activities for adults with learning difficulties.

A keen film and football fan, she also regularly attends Norwich City games and volunteers at the YMCA Stepping Stones Cafe in Norwich, which offers work opportunities to adults living in supported housing.

Ruth Cordle enjoying a night out at the theatre with her mum Nicola. Ruth, 27, will now be able to attend   events with a new 'Gig Buddy', thanks to a scheme run by the learning disability chariy Mencap. Photo: Nicola CordleRuth Cordle enjoying a night out at the theatre with her mum Nicola. Ruth, 27, will now be able to attend events with a new 'Gig Buddy', thanks to a scheme run by the learning disability chariy Mencap. Photo: Nicola Cordle

Keen to attend more music and theatre events, she signed up for a scheme launched in Norwich by learning disability charity Mencap a few weeks ago.

Entitled Gig Buddies, the country-wide project aims to match up music-lovers with trained volunteers, who accompanying them to shows, live music performances and other evening events.

Ms Cordle’s first meeting with her Gig Buddy Meg was filmed by a crew from the BBC Two current affairs programme Inside Out East, with the team following the pair as they went on their first outing to see the musical Club Tropicana at the Theatre Royal, Norwich, before going backstage to meet the cast.

Ms Cordle was also filmed cooking with her mum Nicola and serving customers at the Stepping Stones Café.

Mrs Cordle, who lives at Mattishall, said her daughter, who last year signed up as an extra in a Danny Boyle romantic comedy filmed in Norfolk, had jumped at the chance of being on TV.

“Ruth absolutely loved it and now has her heart set on being a film star,” she said. “She gave her outing with Meg ten out of ten and will be missing her regular club to watch herself on the show.”

Gig Buddies need to commit to half a day’s training and meet up with their buddy twice a month for a year. To find out more about the scheme, or to sign up as a volunteer, visit www.mencap.org.uk

Inside Out East, featuring the Norwich branch of the Gig Buddy scheme, will be screened on BBC2 at 7.30pm tonight, March 4.

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