Saturday, 21 May 2022

The Mill at Sonning gives a warm welcome

THE Mill at Sonning has been named the most welcoming theatre in Britain.

THE Mill at Sonning has been named the most welcoming theatre in Britain.

It was shortlisted after winning the South-East title in the UK Theatre Awards, run by trade body UK Theatre, last month.

Managing director Sally Hughes and a team of senior staff, including general manager David Vass and box office manager Mark Chappell, attended the awards ceremony at the Guildhall in London on Sunday.

Mrs Hughes was presented a plaque and a trophy, which will go on display at the theatre and be given an official unveiling.

The theatre by Sonning Bridge was one of 200 in the country to enter the awards, which are voted for by the public.

It ran an email campaign urging people to show their support and left leaflets in the foyer for customers to pick up.

The venue, which employs about 100 staff including kitchen and backstage roles, has won the regional competition several times before but not the national title. Mrs Hughes said: “A lot of actors voted for us because they love working here.

Every time we do a show, several cast members will comment on what a warm, family feeling there is here.

“It has been a year of major refurbishment and everyone here has worked really hard so we’re really pleased to have won. It’s a testament to everybody’s efforts.

“We haven’t had any specific feedback but I think it’s because everyone here goes the extra mile, whether it’s the chefs cooking for people on special diets or the box office staff always ensuring they ring people back. We’re always getting compliments and I think this shows they’re well deserved.

“We treated the ceremony as a lovely day out and didn’t expect to win because we’re such a small theatre, so we were surprised and delighted when they announced the result.

“It is great for the morale of the team as we’ve had so many messages of congratulation and it’s good publicity for us as it has been mentioned in lots of trade publications, so people in the industry who may not have known about us are now aware.”

The theatre, a former flour mill, has been running for more than 30 years and has played host to many stars of the stage and screen.

Earlier this year it underwent a £300,000 refurbishment in which the foyer and bar were redesigned to create a more “open” feel and the original oak beams running throughout the building were stripped back to their natural state.

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