Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Treasures to enjoy during *!*?@** virus

Treasures to enjoy during *!*?@** virus

AS I am writing this, news of the death of Dame Vera Lynn has just been announced.

Her beautiful voice is floating around the house. We’ll Meet Again stirs all kinds of emotions in my soul. It reminds me of my mother and father, Tim and Eileen Richards, who served in the forces during the Second World War, had such an adventurous life after meeting when the fighting stopped and then went on to discover this old dilapidated Mill in the late Seventies. They spent four years lovingly converting it and in 1982 The Mill at Sonning theatre opened.

I know that I am repeating my previous sentiments but the distant strains of Dame Vera’s wartime hit evokes that “we’ll beat the b*****d” feeling, if we all pull together, the b*****d now being this ghastly

The Mill at Sonning’s customers are certainly pulling together to help the theatre survive. Thank you for your emails, letters and donations.

I had meetings with my managers last week to discuss the way forward and there is a plan in place to re-open. I will start to share that plan with you in July/August.

In the meantime, let me tell you about new additions to our website.

Firstly, that wonderfully talented actor and writer Simon Williams has sent a lovely video to entertain you with a tale of the joy of live theatre. It is very funny. Simon is not only a talented man of stage and screen, but also a dear friend and always there to support The Mill.

Then another great champion of The Mill sent me an email — star of stage and screen, Jeremy Irons.

“I hope your audiences will enjoy this,” he said. “Not sure if it is suitable.”

Jeremy tells us about his childhood, his connection with the River Thames and his love of boats. If you want to sit back and hear a story told by one our great actors then don’t miss it.

Next I come back to family. I am very proud of my daughter-in-law, Stephanie Okupniak. She is not only mother to my grandchildren, Quint and Willow, but also a consummate journalist and Sky News producer.

She may have two children under 18 months but she has made the time to also compile and present a very successful podcast called A Life Lived. From Muhammad Ali and Sir Roger Moore to David Bowie and Aretha Franklin, we hear how the lives of the biggest stars were truly lived. With exclusive interviews from the people who knew them, Stephanie tells the stories of these departed icons.

I asked her if I could share the podcasts. They are quite fascinating and will keep you brilliantly entertained.

Lastly, I would like to tell you about our costume designer, Natalie Titchener. Like many of our staff, she is on furlough and she has decided to make face masks while at home. I gave one a test drive on my early morning walk and it was superb — thick and comfortable material, which washes well to then re-use. The other good thing is that she is giving £1 for every mask sold to the charity A Smile for a Child.

To view all of these treasures, visit our website,

If you enjoy them then by all means make a donation for that pleasure. And thank you for helping The Mill to survive this difficult time. Stay safe.

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