Award-winning Bolton charity CEO Maura Jackson starts 2024 with definitely something to laugh at.

The last 12 months have prompted belly-laughs for her many different audiences around the country as 2023 turned into a special Year of Comedy for her.

Maura spent her working days running the well-regarded BACKUP North West charity for young homeless people and her nights on the stand-up comedy circuit.

After a working life spanning 33 years, mainly in housing and homelessness with young people and families, Maura has discovered the joys of an unexpected “second career”.

The Bolton News: Maura Jackson

In spite of gaining a well-earned reputation as an entertaining speaker at events and women’s networking groups across the region, she had never thought of doing stand-up comedy.

A nasty bout of Covid in the Summer of 2022 gave her more time to think about it and an appeal from a Bolton club for new comedians gave her the kickstart she needed.

She won that competition and went on to win a “Beat the Frog” night for new talent at Manchester’s famous Frog & Bucket comedy club. Fate took it from there.

In the last year, she has performed at 51 gigs, from five-minute “gong shows” (where comedians get gonged off stage) to 25-minute paid sets.

They have been all over the North-west, in Scotland, London and North Wales with audiences varying from the biggest (in Blackpool) of 230 people and the smallest just six. She was also the first woman entertainer to host a hospitality suite for a Bolton Wanderers’ match.

A “one-off” practice event in March entitled “Maura the Learner” sold out to 70 people at the Spice Valley restaurant in Horwich.That evolved into a bi-monthly comedy and curry night with other comedians joining her.

The Bolton News: Maura Jackson

Over six events, she raised £2,500 for local charities with five more scheduled at the Horwich venue this year.

“The highlight of my year was in July with my one-woman show at the Octagon – booked in a fit of recklessness when the plan for a celebrity night for BACKUP fell through,” she explained.

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“I had no idea what I was doing but put together a show of stories, stand-up, nostalgia and songs entitled More O Me.

“Peter Kay kindly recorded a 30-second introduction to be used as a one-off to bring me on stage for that special night. The audience weren’t sure what was going on!”

That took place in the theatre’s 105-seater Studio venue and sold out in 11 days. The audience feedback was so positive that Maura is doing it again, this time in the main auditorium, on Sunday, February 11 with 235 tickets already sold.

This is part of her first one-woman show tour starting in February which also takes in venues in Warrington, Rhyl, Leicester and York.

“I thought comedy would be a competitive and exclusive industry with people all trying to ‘make it’,” stated Maura. “But what I have found are loads of comedians of various demographics and styles all willing to share, support and collaborate.

“I have met one or two dipsticks but also hundreds of genuinely supportive and professional people.”

As for her audiences, many see Maura as the poster girl for middle-aged women and their lives and love her accordingly. And Maura herself is finally happy in her own skin.

“I cannot believe the experiences I have had,” she said. “I had imposter syndrome at the start – just pure disbelief really – but not anymore. I’ve found my ‘lane’ and am just going at my own pace.”

•For more information on Maura’s appearances go to https://thefeatherfixer