Sunday, 22 July 2018
THE Mill at Sonning has been named the country’s most welcoming venue for the second year running.
It had already retained the South-East title in this year’s UK Theatre Awards, which are run by the trade organisation.
Two hundred venues across the country entered the awards and more than more than 40,000 public votes were cast to decide the finalists and winner.
The awards were presented at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London on Sunday, which was attended by the Mill’s managing and artistic director Sally Hughes, production manager Joan Farnese, marketing and administration officer Vanessa Hicks and general and restaurant manager David Vass.
Mrs Hughes, who was presented with the award by Smooth FM presenter Paul Phear, said: “I cannot tell you what it means to all of us here at The Mill. The timing is absolutely apposite. After a difficult time surviving the last recession, The Mill is going through a complete resurgence.
“Everyone here has worked so hard to keep the theatre going and winning this award is a wonderful recognition of that diligence and loyalty.
“So thank you from all of us, from everyone working in administration to our backstage team, the box office, the chefs, the restaurant team and, of course, not forgetting our actors, directors and writers.”
The theatre has about 100 staff including kitchen and backstage roles.
Actor George Telfer, who starred in Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web, which was staged at the Mill from July to September and directed by Brian Blessed, would ask visitors each night to vote for the theatre in the awards.
Mrs Hughes said: “He encouraged the audience to help us out and we sent emails to people asking them to vote.”
The theatre foyer and bar underwent a £300,000 refurbishment last year and further work is to be carried out on the kitchen and auditorium next year.
Mrs Hughes said: “The Mill is about to undergo its next phase of beautification and restoration.
“This 17th century flour mill is in constant need of love and care, with windows and roofs needing to be replaced and beams needing to be sand-blasted to reveal the splendour of the oak wood beneath as well as additional work inside the theatre to upgrade both lights and sound.”
Construction work to create five homes on the theatre site will begin next year.
Planning permission has been granted for three apartments on the third and fourth floors of the theatre and the conversion of an outbuilding into two dwellings.
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