George Pragnell is proud to announce Shakespearean actor, director and award winning international film star, Sir Kenneth Branagh as the recipient of the 2015 Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Prize - an annual award for outstanding achievement in extending the appreciation and enjoyment of the works of William Shakespeare.
Sir Kenneth was presented with a silver vessel which has been handcrafted at the George Pragnell workshops and will join a roll-call of A-list names in the process. Previous Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Prize recipients constitute a thespian hall of fame including Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart.
Sir Kenneth received the award at the 451st Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations Luncheon on Saturday 25 April at the Theatre Gardens in Stratford.
Credited with bringing Shakespeare to the masses, the five-times Oscar-nominated Branagh has directed and starred in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays, including Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Hamlet, Love Labour's Lost and As You Like It.
Sir Kenneth Branagh said: "I am honoured to be this year's recipient of the distinguished Pragnell Shakespeare Award."
"To be in the company of such illustrious predecessors is both touching and meaningful."
In 1769, actor David Garrick created the first ever Shakespeare Festival. In 1893, pupils at Shakespeare's alma mater King Edward VI Grammar School began what was to become an annual parade around Stratford to celebrate the Bard's birthday, laying flowers on his grave at Holy Trinity Church and continuing on to a celebratory lunch. By the 1980s, the parade attracted over 70 international ambassadors dressed in traditional costume. Against a backdrop of the British national anthem, 150 flags representing countries round the world are unfurled. This year thousands of people are expected to attend the parade and approximately 600 guests will attend a luncheon on the banks of the River Avon in the Royal Shakespeare Company Gardens.
"Shakespeare's birthday celebrations are a high point of the George Pragnell calendar. We're thrilled to once again award an exceptional individual whose life's work has been inspired by William Shakespeare," says Charlie Pragnell, managing director of George Pragnell.