AMAZING community spirit has helped to give a theatre a new lease of life.
There was a cause for celebration as dozens of people came together in the newly-refurbished theatre at The Spring in East Street, Havant.
Over the past two years local people have rallied round to raise around £26,000 to revamp the once-ramshackle seats in the arts and heritage centre.
Each seat was sponsored by a local person and, over time, enough cash was raised for the makeover.
Sophie Fullerlove, director of The Spring, and Roger Harrison, chairman of the board of trustee directors, wanted to get everybody together to thank them for their support.
Darren Corps, marketing manager at The Spring, said: ‘On the night, many people came to take a view of the theatre with its new seat coverings and fixings, new arm rests, new carpeting and new paintwork and quickly found and sat in the seats that they had sponsored with a quiet satisfaction.
‘Almost every seat had a name or message on the back of it. It had been a long time since the theatre had looked this good – all of the seats are in teal green to match the logo.
‘Sophie talked about her hopes that people could now enjoy future shows in relative comfort and modern surroundings and expressed her desire to see the continuation of live theatre at The Spring for many years to come.’
Mrs Fullerlove said: ‘A part of our new mission statement is that we want The Spring to be known as a small venue with big ideas.’
Mr Harrison laughed: ‘Not since my first sofa have I been quite so excited by seats!’
As well as a refurbishment of the theatre, the centre’s toilets have had a facelift.
Mrs Fullerlove asked everyone to raise a glass and a cheer in celebration of what had been achieved.
Mr Corps added: ‘Overall the whole thing somehow felt like a significant moment in the art centre’s 35-year history.’
Mrs Fullerlove wanted to thank Jago Developments Ltd, which sponsored 10 seats.
Some seats were sponsored in memory of people, such as local actor Peter Corrigan. Other seats were quirkier – such as those sponsored by the Quickly Come Quizzing Team or The Dust Dolly.
Special thanks were given to: Bench Theatre, Havant Light Opera, Humdrum Theatre, Dynamo Youth Theatre, the Friends of Havant Museum, Havant Borough Council, Hampshire County Council, Councillors Gerald and Elaine Shimbart, members of staff including technician Simon Gray, Cllr Ray Bolton, and Amanda O’Reilly.