Light Relief, the British charity designed to help lighting designers in needs, has been active in 2003.

At the end of January, in appalling weather conditions that shut down much of East Anglia, LD Mark Ridler suffered a devastating accident on his way home from work. He is now paralyzed from the waist down in what is described medically as a T11 injury: there is no hope of recovery and he will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Ridler, 38, started his career as chief electrician for the Piccadilly Theatre in London, where Mark White (now with ETC) gave him his first job. He then worked as resident LD for the Phoenix Dance Company in Leeds, then at the Nottingham Playhouse, later going on to Sadlers Wells and The Peter Hall Company at the Piccadilly, The Royal Court, and the Royal National Theatre. A member of the ALD, for the last four years, he has worked for Maurice Brill Lighting Design on architectural projects.

When the trustees of Light Relief became aware of Ridler’s story through his many friends in the industry, they recognized that this was precisely the kind of situation for which the charity was set up. Consequently, over the coming weeks and months, Light Relief will provide funding to cover some of the considerable extra expenses that Ridler and his wife, Clare, will encounter.

“This tragedy has been devastating for Mark and his wife and two young children,” said Tony Gottelier, co-founder of Light Relief. “We will help as much as funds permit to assist Mark back to work as soon as his health and mobility permit. However, you can never have enough money in cases like this, so we have opened a dedicated bank account to which people can send money and know that it will be spent exclusively for Mark’s benefit.”

Checks should be made payable to ‘Light Relief for Mark Ridler’ and sent to Light Relief, 1a Langton Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 8XA.

Light Relief was also active in two other cases in the same month. The unexpected deaths of freelancers Mark Stitfall and Brian Thomas have left widows and children with minimal support and facing uncertain futures with no breadwinner. Light Relief will be providing funding in both cases to alleviate some of the financial burden and, in the case of Mark Stitfall’s son, Ryan, to help with his future education. Again, if anyone wants to donate money specifically for either of these, send checks made payable to Light Relief at the same address as before and simply mark the envelope to indicate who the money is for. All donations are of course gratefully accepted, however small, whether for Light Relief in general or for a specific case.