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City Varieties Auditorium Named

Millionaire and Philanthropist honoured

Published on September 9th 2011.

City Varieties Auditorium Named
CITY Varieties Music Hall's newly refurbished auditorium will be named after legendary local philanthropist Jimi Heselden thanks to a generous donation from his family.
Jimi Heselden OBE who tragically died in an accident on his distinctive Segway last year made his fortune creating the 'blast wall' replacing traditional sandbags that helped protect troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
His family continue the philanthropic work he began four years ago supporting a variety of projects across the city through Jimbo’s Fund, the fund named after him and administered by Leeds Community Foundation.

 “The City Varieties is, very much, a Leeds icon and we think that it is a lovely way of recognising Jimi in the city that he cared so much for, by calling it the Jimi Heselden auditorium," says Jimi’s wife Julie.  "The City Varieties is well known for hosting a programme of fun and entertaining events and Jimi had a brilliant sense of humour so it seemed a good match.”   


City Varieties is due to re-open on 18 September this year following a £9.9 million refurbishment which has restored the Music Hall to its former glory as well as improving access for audiences and performers with better public spaces, a landmark glass lift and much improved technical equipment.

Built in 1865 above the Swan Inn, in a side street towards the top of Briggate, the Grade II* listed Victorian music hall has survived against all the odds; in the late 19th century there were over 300 such theatres nationwide, yet today only three of this calibre remain and by far the best preserved of these is the Varieties.

 "The Heselden family continues to make a difference in Leeds and we are very grateful for this. It’s wonderful that they are able to support this unique Leeds building whilst commemorating Jimi.  I hope that the shows performed in the new Jimi Heselden Auditorium will entertain the people of Leeds well into the future,” said Chair of the Board, Adam Ogilvie.

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