Dramatic effort to avoid Malmesbury flooding

A theatre group hit by regular flooding in Malmesbury needs £70,000 for a new flood-proof building and will launch a fundraising campaign at the town’s late-night shopping event next week.

The Athelstan Players, who have been entertaining residents for more than 74 years with their colourful shows, own a studio on the Flying Monk Football Ground in Malmesbury.

This used as a rehearsal space, prop workshop and storage space, but lately it has been affected by flooding and they have struggled to carry on with their shows.

The group was affected by heavy flooding in November 2012, alongside many other townspeople, and now insurance companies are refusing to cover the building.

The plan is to knock down the studio and build a new one three feet above ground level to save their props from flood damage every time the water comes in. It could also be sub-let to other groups.

Athelstan Player Tracy Bridgeman said the damages were costing more than before, to the point that the future of the society would be in grave danger if they could not find the money.

She said: “We’ve had some terrible flooding in recent years. Last year it was thigh high, almost three feet deep, which happened the week before our pantomime.

“We all did a midnight run down to the studio and we evacuated everything we needed, but it was really tight. It’s the cost of replacing everything and drying everything out and the lost rehearsal space we’ve had to put up with.

“It’s a really big strain on the group and that’s not what you want.”

The group has employed a surveyor and will show sketches of the new building to the public at the late-night shopping event on December 13. It will be supported by film and TV star Jason Durr, best known for his performance in Heartbeat, whose wife Kate Charman was an Athelstan Player.

Mrs Bridgeman, 30, joined the Athelstan Players as a child and now her two older sons Alex, 13, and Oliver, 10 perform as part of the group.

To get in touch and help the Athelstan Players visit www.athelstanplayers.org

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