New Years Honours: Music hall genius made an MBE

13:49 29 December 2012

Vincent Hayes runs the Brick lane Music Hall in an old Silvertown church in London’s Docklands, and is breaking the news of his MBE to his family today while on holiday with them in Barbados.

“It was all a complete shock—I’ve been in showbusiness since I was five and this is the first recognition,” said the entrepreneur.

“The award is in confidence until it’s officially announced. So I banned myself from talking about it.

“But I couldn’t keep a secret—I’ll tell the family over dinner.”

The Irish-born showbiz entrepreneur from Galway originally set up his Brick Lane Music Hall in the old Truman Brewery in Spitalfields in 1996, bringing vaudeville and slapstick back to the East End.

But rents rocketed and parking was impossible, so in 2003 he renovated the empty St Mark’s Church in North Woolwich Road, which was on the ‘endangered buildings’ register, and moved in with his diet of musical comedy, song, food and drink—and is fully booked months ahead.

Vincent gets no funding, yet manages a community outreach programme in schools like Beckton’s Tollgate Primary with his paid staff and no volunteers, while making it all pay.

His secret? “I’m an Irish grafter,” he tells you. “I put on musicals people want—panto for grown-ups.”

The father-of-two dared put eldest daughter on the stage—now Erin Hayes, 24, has two Hollywood movies under her belt. His youngest, Lucy, 16, is still at school.

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