Preston script writer tells story of ex-offender Chris who set up food bank in lockdown

When writer Susan Moffatt came across the inspirational story of local man Chris Murray, who turned his life around following years in prison, she wrote a monologue about his life.

By James Holt
Monday, 21st June 2021, 12:33 pm
Updated Monday, 21st June 2021, 12:34 pm

And for one night only, it will be performed tomorrow, June 22, as part of the Preston Live Arts Festival.

Chris Murray set up his 'Here for Humanity' organisation in lockdown after he began cooking meals for his vulnerable neighbours who were shielding from Covid-19.

From living in a childhood home surrounded by drugs and alcohol and spending many of his younger years behind bars at HMP Preston, Chris turned his life around and set up his food hub in lockdown to support families in need.

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When UCLan creative writing graduate Susan came across his story, she approached Preston Council with a pitch and wanted to tell his story in a short monologue at the Preston Live Festival.

Susan, 52, said: "The Preston Arts Festival first put a call out on social media looking for drama, spoken word and poetry pieces to be performed. I wanted to write a true story about a real person from Preston and wanted it to be inspirational and uplifting.

"Lockdown and the pandemic have really brought some awful experiences for so many people, so I wanted to produce something that was bright and positive.

Chris will see his story told at the Charter Theatre

"I had been following the Here for Humanity group on social media through the lockdown and knew it was a good cause that helped so many people. I had begun digging into Chris and his past and thought he had a really amazing and inspirational story.

"He was doing something good for the community and had overcome so many challenges in his life. So I met with Chris and found out more about his life growing up and his past, took my notes away and created a monologue to performed by one actor."

Susan, who used to work as a librarian, had always dreamt of being a writer and went back to study Creative Writing at UCLan to make her career change become a reality and has since been a part of locally produced independent movies and short films.

And the writer, who lives in Ashton-on-Ribble, is currently working on a feature-length film about men suffering from eating disorders and hopes to bag arts council funding to complete the project.

Writer Sue Moffatt has created a monologue on his life. Picture by Alf Myers

Penwortham actor Neil Proctor will perform the monologue tomorrow night, at the Charter Theatre, as part of the 'Lockdown Stories Drama' segment of the festival.

From 7.30 pm, performers including those from the Lancashire People's Theatre are set to perform various pieces telling inspirational stories that have come out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here for Humanity founder Chris Murray, who will be watching the performance based on his life tomorrow, said: "Sue has been brilliant and I am honoured she wants to tell my story. She first contacted me on Facebook and told me she had followed our story and said it was inspirational.

"I hear it a lot, so many people tell us how inspirational our work is in the city and how many people we have helped in the pandemic. Sue said she wanted to write a story about me and my past for the Arts Festival and I was over the moon.

After years behind bars, Chris now runs his food hub on Eldon Street

"We met up and I told her about my past and how the group was set up. It is going to be hard to watch because it's my life and nobody can quite write it as you remember. It will be strange but I am looking forward to it.

"My difficult past and childhood is the beginning and the Here for Humanity founding marks the end of the story.

"I think the festival is good for the city because the arts have suffered so much this year. There has been little in the way of support for them and the people who perform have lost out on everything. Hopefully, the festival coming to Preston will help restore some faith in the arts."

Tickets and more information about the Lockdown Stories performances can be found HERE.

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