Burketeers for Operation Smile

Burketeers for Operation Smile
Rachael Simmons

Rachael Simmons, who’s fundraising for Operation Smile by watching 30 plays in 30 weeks

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a competition to win family tickets for Bugsy Malone the Lyric, Hammersmith. The winner – Rachael Simmons – was selected at random, and when I checked back to see whether she’d fulfilled the entry criteria by leaving a comment, my interest was piqued.

I have BIG theatre plans this summer! I’ve taken up the challenge “30 Plays, 30 Weeks, before I’m 30″ for the charity Operation Smile which provides free cleft lip/palate surgery to children across the world.

Rachael, as part of a group calling themselves The Burketeers, has set about to raise funds for charity. I wanted to find out more about the Burketeers and Operation Smile, and luckily Rachael agreed to be interviewed for the Pigeon Pair and Me.

Operation Smile

The Burketeers received this ‘Group Fundraisers of the Year’ award for their work

Tell us a little about yourself. How do you like to spend your time? Who or what is important in your life?

I’m a secondary school admissions officer in North London. In my spare time I love reading, going to the theatre & cinema, drinking tea and spending way too much time on Twitter!

The most important things in my life right now are my family, my friends and helping others to smile in whichever way I can.

 What made you choose Operation Smile?

 I was made aware of Operation Smile through being a Burketeer. It is a wonderful charity which provides free surgery to children with cleft lip/palates and other facial deformities across the world where lack of money and expertise makes it impossible for them to get the help they so desperately need. For just £150 and taking just 45mins a child will get their smile restored: there is no real price for a child’s smile.

You say that you’re a ‘Burketeer’. What is this – anything to do with thespian Tom Burke, by any chance?

Yes! He is my favourite actor and a really nice guy, proud to be a fan-girl! I am just one of a fantastic group of Tom Burke fans known as Burketeers who have come together online and in person to chat, laugh, support one another and fundraise. Collectively we have raised £15,000 for Operation Smile UK and last week we were given the Group Fundraisers of the Year award by the charity!

theatre tickets

Sorry to spoil the surprise…but fangirl Rachael Simmons will be sending this birthday message, made up entirely of theatre tickets, to Tom Burke in June

You’ve challenged yourself to see 30 plays in 30 weeks, before you’re 30. Out of all the challenges you could have set yourself, why this one?

I’ve only discovered a love of theatre within the past year and have been greatly inspired by Tom and the Burketeers to venture out on my own to explore what London’s West End (and beyond!) has to offer. I also love to write, and have created a blog to review all the shows I will be watching. Co-ordinating all thirty visits is surprisingly hard! I know it’s not a physical challenge like a marathon or skydiving, but it’s more personalised to who I am and is an achievable goal. I always get the cheap tickets to keep costs low, so I can donate more to Op Smile.

 Are there any performances you’re particularly excited about seeing?

Quite a few! The Elephant Man with Bradley Cooper, To Kill a Mockingbird, American Buffalo, Photograph 51 with Nicole Kidman, but the one I’m most looking forward to is Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet. We’re hoping Tom Burke himself might even tread the boards again in the near future 🙂


Thank you, and good luck Rachael! I have to say, I’m jealous about the Cumberbatch gig….we do hope you enjoy Bugsy Malone. Can’t wait to read the reviews.

If you’d like to find out more or donate, here are some links.




Like this post? Why not share it:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.