Sam Heughan
Actor Sam Heughan participates in the Starz "Outlander" panel at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, California, January 9, 2015. Reuters/David McNew

“Outlander” star Sam Heughan decided to secretly help a group of drama club members in Borders, Scotland, after he received a letter from them seeking his help. In an exclusive interview with International Business Times, Australia, Charlie Dawson, who wrote the letter, talked about the drama club and how the actor helped them.

The Rowland’s Youth Charity was setup by concerned members of the community to provide an alcohol and drug-free centre for young people. The success of the Scottish actor Heughan inspired the group, and they wrote to the actor requesting him to lead the group in an acting class.

“Our Drama Club has been running for nearly a year now with a group of young people aged 12-19 attending every 2 weeks on a Friday. We do improvisation Workshops, games and are currently studying scenes from famous Scottish plays. At the moment we are looking at scenes from ‘The Steamie’ by Tony Roper. The group will split up into small groups of 3 or 4 and read through the scene then perform it for the rest of the group. Everyone then discusses the scene and what was good, what could be improved and how the characters were portrayed,” Dawson said.

Charlie Dawson
A picture of Charlie Dawson Charlie Dawson

Heughan has been busy on press tours, and filming the TV series. But, that did not stop the actor from recognising how important it is to nurture young talent, and promote organizations like the Rowland’s Youth Charity. He immediately contacted Youth Theatre Arts Scotland, of which he is a patron. The organisation conducts the annual National Festival of Youth Theatre, the largest annual gathering of youth theatres in the UK.

Young people from across the UK participate in workshops and have fun at the National Festival of Youth Theatre, and Heughan felt this is exactly what the group needs. The actor’s largest fan group The Heughligans donated the money needed for five members of the Rowland’s Youth Charity to attend the event, which begins from July 4.

“The National Festival of Youth Theatre is important to Rowlands as this is a fantastic opportunity for our young people to learn new skills and network with other young people with a shared interest in theatre. We will plan to learn as much as we can from other groups and bring the whole experience back to our own wee theatre group,” Dawson said.

Youth Theatre Arts Scotland has received £6,000 (around AU $10697) of the £15,000 (26,740) collected by the fans. This gives the drama club members free entry into the event. [Update: £15,000 was raised for two of Sam Heughan's charities. Heughligans don't handle any of the donations, and the amount that was raised for the purpose of the drama club has been donated to them in full].

The whole idea of approaching Heughan was a result of Dawson wanting to get a young person a course in drama, but this person couldn’t afford the fees at Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh.

When Dawson received a phone call from Youth Theatre Arts Scotland office, informing her of the offer, she was “dumbstruck.” She was told that Heughan had personally spoken with the organization to help out the “wee group.”

“Rowlands and myself can never thank Sam or Youth Theatre Arts Scotland enough as this has given some of our young people a fantastic opportunity that they would never have had before as we as a organisation would not have been able to fund this,” Dawson said.

Talking about “Outlander,” Dawson said that it was her mum who first read the books by Diana Gabaldon, and she apparently “would not stop talking about them!” “When I found out that the series was coming out I was a bit sceptical as I did not know how they would be able to match the books but I was proven wrong the show is fantastic,” she said.