Dinner Meeting 26 September 2022

This evening we welcomed our guests, Flavia Bateson, Director and Producer at the Chesil Theatre, Sue Heath-Caldwell and Mark Robinson, guests of JJ Heath-Caldwell and Thomas Bwambale, Winchester Rotary sponsored student from Uganda, working as a volunteer with Tools For Self Reliance, (TFSR), Southampton.

On this occasion there was joy mixed with sadness: first the pleasure of the induction by President Deborah of a new member, David Pollard (see separate blog), and the sadness for the imminent departure of Simon Salter.

Simon, our loved and respected member for 5 years, has given us friendship, wisdom and a fine example of “Service Before Self”.  His UK contract with IBM has now come to an end and he must return to his homeland, Australia, with his family to rejoin IBM.  We will all miss him immensely and wish him “bon voyage!”.

Flavia Bateson, our guest speaker, entertained us to an interesting, informative and amusing account of the history and work of the Chesil Theatre.  Our previous club secretary, David James, is a keen volunteer at the Chesil, helping with technical and backstage work.

Founded in 1863 as the Winchester Dramatic Society, it then became established in 1966 in the former 12th-century church of St Peter Chesil, which provided an intimate 75-seat studio-style theatre with a versatile stage.

Audiences enjoy high-quality productions ranging from comedy to classics; 1993 saw the first outdoor production – the weather was fine!  The Chesil’s bi-annual, national new playwriting festival, “Take Ten” supports new, innovative work. The Chesil has a thriving youth theatre, together with theatre-related activities, stagecraft and technical training. Their Community Outreach programme includes disadvantaged children and the elderly.

Future plans include the creation of a second multi-purpose performance space, new foyer and bar, and improved access and amenities for those with reduced mobility.

The Chesil Theatre is a charity and needs financial and fundraising support.  We do not want to lose this gem in the heart of our city.

Thank you Flavia for bringing the history and creative work of this lovely theatre to our dinner meeting.

The meeting concluded at 9.00pm

Diana Brooks

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