Andy McConnell of Rye, the Antiques Roadshow glass specialist, has given £3,000 to the Rye-based charity Arrcc. The charity, which has suffered a series of funding cuts, was given McConnell’s fee for appearing in a Christmas edition of Celebrity Mastermind, which was broadcast on BBC1 on Tuesday December 23. His fellow contestants were Sir Richard Stilgoe, lyricist of the musicals Cats and Evita, Scottish signer Amy Macdonald and comedic poet Tim Key.
Arrcc – Activities, Respite, Rehabilitation, Care Centres – recently launched a campaign to raise £6,000 to buy a new van for its furniture warehouse at the Creative Centre, New Road, Rye. “This is fantastic news,” said Grace O’Neill, the charity’s chief executive. “We are absolutely thrilled to receive this important boost to our funds. It will enable us to pick up donations and deliver purchases and make our lives much easier.”
McConnell said: “When first approached to appear on Mastermind, I immediately thought of Arrcc. They do a wonderful job and are genuinely local. They have been hit by a series of cuts and really need help in their work to help others.”
He and his wife Helen have run the gallery Glass Etc in Rope Walk for 10 years and he has been the Roadshow’s glass specialist since 2005. McConnell’s specialist subject on Mastermind was the rock singer Joe Cocker. As McConnell explained: “I couldn’t choose an aspect of glass as that would be a soft option. Besides, getting some of the answers wrong could destroy my career. I knew Cocker in the 70s and thought he’d be a better, and less embarrassing, option.”
He added: “Recording the programme was truly terrifying! From the moment I first agreed to sit in that famous black chair I knew it was going to be tough on the nerves. But nothing can prepare you for that moment when your name is called and you take your place . . . and then John Humphrys opens up with the questions. I now know the reality of a cold sweat!”
Arrcc offers daily workshops, sports and activities to local physically and sensory impaired adults. For details, visit its website. Cocker, whose hits included You are so beautiful and Unchain my heart, died on Monday [December 22] aged 70.