Crisis meeting final stage in trying to save Players

Penhill Players rehearsing for one of their pantomimes

Penhill Players rehearsing for one of their pantomimes

First published in News

PENHILL Players is likely to face its final curtain call next week, when its chairman Eddie Hawkins and committee will meet for crisis talks over its future.

The drama group, based out of St Peter’s Church in Penhill Drive, has been running in the area for the best part of 25 years, but is facing the end of its run, with dwindling membership and empty coffers.

Eddie said the outcome of May 14’s annual general meeting is not a foregone conclusion and somebody may step forward with an 11th hour offer of help, but it seems likely the Players will play no more.

The chairman has been in poor health since the turn of the year, with bronchitis and pneumonia hitting the 54-year-old hard.

“My family had a go at me to start looking after myself better,” said Eddie. “I thought ‘right, well, I will cut myself away from it and see what happens’.

“A couple of other people seem to have lost interest in it (Penhill Players) anyway. Kids were dropping like some of the adults we had.

“Some of the people I would ask to try and help us out with certain bits and pieces couldn’t commit and then they dropped out.

“To be honest, the club has had a good run.”

Eddie has advised anyone interested in prolonging the life of the group that it will need 10 people to run it and another five or six committee members.

He also said he could not put a finger on why the club had begun to struggle after so long. He said children were still as keen as ever to perform as part of the group, but adult support was lacking.

“We need people to run the backstage and the scenery for our shows, as well as the lighting, but there’s been no commitment,” he said.

“That’s the biggest thing, if you don’t have commitment to the cause it’s never going to happen.”

The group had to cancel its Christmas pantomime in 2013 because there were not enough people available to run the show, and tickets had to be returned to people along with their money.

Eddie, who is a full-time carer for his wife in Penhill Drive, said he felt the community could have done more to help him and the drama group before it reached this stage.

“I do in a way feel let down by the community. I go to the Deers Leap, a lot of people have turned around and said they want to see it keep going,” he said. “But you have to think, if somebody has got alcohol in them when they say that they either say they don’t remember anything about it when you see them, or simply blank out what they said.”

The meeting to decide the future of the group will start at 7.30pm in the Deers Leap next Wednesday.

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