Woohoo’s Celebration Day


By Artis Specialist Andrea Beed (Twizzle)

Woohoo Day

On Sunday 18 September we held a very special day to pay tribute to our much missed friend and gifted Artis Specialist Deborah Barber-Jones (Woohoo). Deborah passed away in April 2015 from an inoperable brain tumour that followed a courageous battle with metastatic breast cancer. She was immensely talented, creative and zany; adored by children and adults alike.


As Deborah was such an inspiration to so many people that she encountered, both in her professional and personal life, we decided that we wanted to honour her and her creative legacy.  A creative arts fun day we felt would be the perfect way celebrate the ways in which she touched all of our lives.


We chose to hold the event at Independent Options North-West in Stockport, a charity that supports children and adults with learning difficulties to lead fulfilling and independent lives. Deborah was very passionate about working with children and adults with additional needs and worked with great success at several SEND schools in Greater Manchester.


By holding the event at Independent Options, we were able to invite some of her ex-pupils and colleagues along that are local to the area. It also ensured that we had a beautiful and well equipped venue for the day. We also saw this tribute day as a fantastic opportunity to raise some funds for Independent Options, who rely heavily on donations and fundraising from individuals and small groups.


Family, friends and Artis colleagues gathered from all over the country to contribute and support Woohoo’s Celebration Day.  A fun-packed day was created which included a live band, dance, yoga, drama and storytelling workshops. We also had performances from Blue Apple Theatre, a Muppet treasure hunt and sock puppet crafts and a plant stall. All of these are things Deborah would have absolutely loved!


The venue was perfect for the event. The gorgeous weather allowed us to set up in a stunning outdoor space, lovingly decorated with bunting, balloons and pictures of Deborah. The children that attended had so much fun using all the outdoor play equipment. Face painting, fairy wings and wands, hoola-hoops all helped make the day that bit more magical.  We received so many generous contributions to our huge cake sale and raffle. All attendees were all invited to take centre stage and ‘Sparkle and Shine’ in Deborah’s memory, which they did with gusto.


Some of the many highlights of the day included, the parade around the venue with the countless sock puppets made, moving dance performances from Katie from Blue Apple Theatre and the poignant poems and stories dedicated to Deborah (some of which had been sent from her friends in America). We ended the day with a ‘Big Dance’ which was very emotional and filled with the joy Deborah always strived to release in others.


Woohoo’s Celebration Day was the perfect tribute to an incredible woman. So many beautiful people and things came together effortlessly throughout the day, Deborah felt so very near. We raised an additional £415 for Independent Options which was fantastic and I know they will put the money to very good use.


Thank you so much to everyone involved for helping us create this very special day which will be held dearly in the hearts and minds of so many of her family, friends and colleagues. Woohoo!

30 Sep 2016