Groundlings Theatre that was 'completely trashed' in burglary is supported by sponsored walk to Waterlooville pub

The assistant manager of a Waterlooville pub has completed a sponsored walk to support a much-loved theatre left ‘completely trashed’ after a burglary.

Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 2:07 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 5:27 pm
Becky McBride (second row, far right) with children from Groundlings Theatre drama class program.

Becky McBride, the assistant bar manager of the Plough and Barleycorn, set off from Groundlings Theatre, in Kent Street, Portsea to undertake a five-mile walk to the pub on Saturday.

The theatre was targeted by burglars who destroyed five computers, smashed open tills, and made off with a safe containing £800.

The assistant manager of the pub in Tempest Avenue said she was ‘so shocked’ after reading about the theatre’s plight that she decided to organise the walk.

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Artistic director Richard Stride at Groundlings Theatre, Kent Road, Portsmouth. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

She said: ‘I saw The News's story online, and with it coming up to Christmas, I thought we should do something.

‘The theatre is a lovely little place. A lot of our customers’ kids used to attend the theatre's drama classes.

‘I thought it would be fitting to walk between the pub to the theatre.’

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Thieves were caught ransacking the Groundlings Theatre in Kent Street, Portsea, Portsmouth, on the morning of September 29. This picture shows a cupboard containing the theatre's safe smashed open. Picture: Richard Stride

The theatre’s artistic director, Richard Stride, said Becky’s support was ‘amazing’ – and chose the right ending for the journey.

He said: ‘It’s a long way to walk, and a lot of it is uphill – but at least they were going to a pub at the end of it.

‘It’s an amazing help.’

The theatre was 'close to the edge’ of shutting down before the incident, and now needs support from the community to bounce back from the raid, according to Richard.

He said: ‘We have had a lot of people coming into offer help, but we still have lorry loads of stuff that needs taking to the tip or given a good home – any help with that would be great.’

The burglary has had a 'massive' impact according to the artistic director, with ticket sales for an annual ghost tour down 80 per cent compared to last year, as the theatre struggles to recover promotional material destroyed by the thieves.

Richard added: ‘There have been 64 crimes committed against this building in the last 10 years.’

Last week, police released a picture of a man they want to speak to in connection with the break-in, after a 38 year-old-man was arrested in connection with the offence but released under investigation.