BLACK Country born actress and comedienne Josie Lawrence has become the new patron of Stourbridge's award-winning Side by Side theatre company.

Josie, who was born in Old Hill and brought up in Cradley Heath, visited the group of learning disabled actors and dancers for the first time on Monday and was greeted with enthusiasm by the performers who are rehearsing for their next production Robin Hood and the Timestone in June.

Susan Wallin MBE, founder of Side by Side, said: “We were so pleased to have been greeted so warmly by Josie when she popped along to our rehearsal.

"She’d certainly done her research about the group and made each and every one of the students feel very comfortable. We all look forward to her involvement in Side by Side over the coming months.”

The theatre company, which has taken over the derelict St John's Church as its new base, had come straight from winning two awards at the Dudley Festival of Music, Dance and Drama, having performed Act 1 of their new show Robin Hood and the Timestone which will be performed in full at Stourbridge Town Hall from June 19 to 22.

The group,

Tickets for Robin Hood and the Timestone are available from