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Silver Shakespeare Trophy to be Sold to Benefit Young Hull Performers

27th March 2024.

A silver sculptural trophy of Shakespeare, given in memory of an actor killed in WWII, is to be sold by the Hull Music Festival to raise funds to support the education and development of young performers in the area. The sculpture will be offered in the Jewellery, Watches and Silver Sale at Tennants Auctioneers, North Yorkshire on 18th May, with an estimate of £4,000-6,000 (plus buyer’s premium).

Andrew Penny MBE, the President of the Festival says:

“Whilst it may appear we are literally selling off the family silver, it makes much more sense to realise this statue as an asset than to present and extremely weight trophy to a young person who might worry about the security implications of holding it for a year at home. We can do a great deal with the funds raised to achieve the great aims of the founders of the Festival Movement - ‘to pace each other on the road to excellence’”.

In September 1943 a promising young actor and Flight Lieutenant in the RAF, Arthur C. Burrell from Hull, was killed in action over Sicily. Before the War Burrell had joined the professional stage and had been an active member of the Hull amateur dramatic scene, taking part in productions with the Playgoers’ Society, the British Drama League and the Sharrah Drama Club; it was with the latter that Burrell played the title role in ‘Will Shakespeare’, which his admirers considered his finest roll. Following his death, his friends and fellow thespians raised money to commission a trophy in his memory, to be competed for annually in the Hull Music Festival. Designed and modelled by Edward Bainbridge Copnall at the Sir John Cass Institute in London in 1948, it was first won the same year by the College of Commerce Evening Class Team, winners of the One Act Play in the open section of the competition.



The Hull Musical Festival was founded in 1906 to provide competitive classes in sections for Instrumental Music, Singing, Dance, Speech and Drama. It became a registered charity in 1978 (charity no. 507766) with the aims of ‘the advancement of the education of the public in the arts of music, dancing, literature and acting in all their branches’.

 The Arthur Burrell Memorial Trophy was presented to the Festival in 1948, to be awarded annually as a prize in the Speech and Drama section.  The Festival continues to provide a well-supported music festival and a highly over-subscribed dance festival in Hull each year, but sadly, the Speech and Drama section fell out of fashion and has not been held for some years.

 The Festival awards a mixture of certificates, medals, trophies, cash prizes and bursaries to performers in music and dance, in addition to providing valuable feedback from professional adjudicators.  In the coming months, the trustees will be carefully considering how to use the funds realised by the sale of the Arthur Burrell Trophy to further the aims of the charity and to best support the education and development of young performers from the local area.


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