I was treated to a trip down memory lane recently when a friend invited me to a dress rehearsal of The Desborough Players' production of Robin Hood at the Cecil Hepworth Playhouse in Walton on Thames. 

This is a brilliant venue for the community used by so many amateur dramatic groups to put on their production.

It has recently been saved from closure and is now being run by a community group.

It is also a nod to the movie heritage of the area.

Cecil Hepworth was a film director, producer and screenwriter.

He was among the founders of the British film industry and was making films well into the 1920s at his studios in Walton on Thames. His works included the first adaptation of Alice in Wonderland in 1903. 

As you wander around it is easy to forget the heritage that is right on our doorstep – but thankfully this building serves as a reminder of the heyday of British cinema.

I have my own memories of the Cecil Hepworth Playhouse as in 2015 I was on the stage in their panto which was – yes, you guessed it, Robin Hood. This was one of the first times I met Lara who caught a train from Epsom to see me prancing about on stage in make-up. Thankfully that didn’t put her off!

It was bittersweet to watch the panto and to see somebody else in my role of Sir Guy of Gisbourne, the evil sheriff’s deputy. Nine years on and I was still able to recognise some of the lines!

I think we should support and value so-called amateur drama groups. This is how the next generation of acting talent cut their teeth, and these drama groups bring the community together both on and off stage. 

For me, I may consider doing a panto again sometime in the future but I think I’m at my most comfortable behind the microphone rather than on a stage wearing make-up!

To find out more about the Desborough Players, visit www.thedesboroughplayers.co.uk

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