The Wharf Theatre has been pulled back from the brink of ruin by public donations that have raised more than £30,000 - including a gift from a mystery donor that was so big that it shocked the management.

Trustees and 80 volunteers feared it might have to close its doors for good after Covid restrictions caused the cancellation of its entire season and left a £30,000 shortfall in the coffers.

But big-hearted theatre-lovers have rallied round to such an extent that The Wharf has beaten the target of its emergency funding appeal.

And one anonymous donor gave the theatre a huge sum, understood to be in the region of £9,000.

A theatre spokesman said: “We are incredibly grateful that the community pulled together last year and raised a large portion of the funds we so desperately needed in order to survive lockdown.

“After raising two thirds of our target, the BBC featured our campaign and mentioned how much we still needed to raise. Within days we had received the rest of our target, thanks to an anonymous donation and, as you can imagine, we were shocked, grateful and relieved in equal measure.”

Although the Devizes theatre’s Covid Survival Fund page on the JustGiving website currently lists a total of £9,703 donated by 191supporters towards the target of £30,000, the Wharf’s artistic director, Debby Wilkinson, revealed that the target has been more than met.

“The actual JustGiving page is correct in that we raised 32 per cent of our target through that medium. However, we had many other fundraising initiatives running in parallel,” she said.

“We raised a considerable amount through a number of costume sales where we sold off costumes from the theatre’s vast stores that were not used.

“Following a BBC interview covering the plight of the theatre, we received a generous donation from an individual. This was not processed through the JustGiving page at the request of the donor who has asked for complete anonymity.

“We also received a number of local restriction support grants from government. Added together these various sums exceeded our target - and we are enormously grateful to everyone who gave both time and money to support the theatre.”

But with operational costs running at around £60,000 a year, management has cautioned that they cannot be complacent and has urged the public to express their support by putting bums on seats at the 96-capacity canal-side theatre.

“The best way that people can support us going forwards is to buy tickets to see our shows and perhaps join the theatre as a friend. We are keen that people ‘get something’ for their money now,” said Ms Wilkinson.

To attract audiences this season The Wharf is going for laughs with a lrun of comedy productions including the Tommy Cooper tribute show Just Like That, Glorious, the story of the world’s worst singer and the return of pantomime with Dick Whittington. Details of all shows are at