Lockdown laugh-off raises cash and smiles in memory of university student

Beverley Bishop (centre) with some of the people who took part in her lockdown 'laugh-in'.Photo: con

Beverley Bishop (centre) with some of the people who took part in her lockdown 'laugh-in'.Photo: contributed - Credit: Archant

A theatre professional who lost her 20-year-old son in tragic circumstances has been spreading a little lockdown cheer, by hosting online laughter therapy sessions to raise cash for the legal advice initiative set up in his memory.

Actress and therapist Beverley Bishop, who raised £800 for a law initiative set up in memory of her

Actress and therapist Beverley Bishop, who raised £800 for a law initiative set up in memory of her son by running an online laughter yoga session.Photo: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

Beverly Bishop, who retrained as a hypnotherapist and laughter yoga practitioner after working as a performer and theatre director, originally planned to hold a laughter event at the University of East Anglia, where her son Jess Fairweather was studying when he took his own life in 2018.

However, after being forced to cancel both the event and the regular therapy sessions she holds at various Norfolk venues, Mrs Bishop, who lives at Cromer, came up with the idea of running a ‘laugh-off’ on the video conferencing app Zoom.

It took place on World Laughter Day, which was celebrated on Sunday.

“Laughter is very good for our mental health and is very much undervalued,” Mrs Bishop said. “I think is is something that is very much needed during these difficult times as it provides an immediate release of stress and it’s fantastic for lifting your mood.”


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More than 50 people from all over the county signed up for the event, sharing laughter based on principles combining yogic breathing with simple exercises that simulate laughter.

Mrs Bishop, whose film charting the days following her son’s death was shown at an international film festival held in Berlin, said; “It is often said that laughter is the best medicine and the health benefits have been scientifically proven. Laughter boosts the immune system and releases stress and I wanted to do my bit to support a good cause, at the same time as raising awareness of the benefits of laughter.

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Cash donated by those taking part in the laugh-off will go to the Fairweather Project UEA, which, set up by Jess’s friends in his memory, will see a free legal clinic run by law students launched later this year, as well as a series of podcasts focusing on legal issues.

“I am delighted that we raised so much money and I’d like to thank everyone who got involved,” Mrs Bishop said. “It was such a joyful event and, goodness knows, we need joy in our lives more than ever at the moment.”

To find out more about the Fairweather Project, or to make a donation to the initiative, email Beverly at bishop_bev@hotmail.com or phone 07951 420981.

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