September 30th, 2016

Anniversary is cause for celebration

Updated: 5:10 pm, May 06, 2015

PLENTY of celebrations were held when one of Pershore’s finest creations held its tenth anniversary.

Dozens of guests from around the town and beyond gathered to celebrate ten years to the day Pershore’s Number 8 Community Arts Centre first opened its doors on Thursday (December 4).

And following a champagne reception, visitors then watched a specially arranged two-hour show to celebrate the history of the thriving arts centre from how the idea first came about to how it attracted big names, tribute bands and theatre shows to Pershore.

Built in December 2004, Number 8 is led by the people of Pershore and has more than 200 volunteers on board with just a handful of paid staff managing the programming, operations and marketing side of the High Street venue.

With the town lacking any kind of space for drama productions, especially for the Pershore Operatic and Dramatic Society performances, a dedicated group of local people, including the late Ray Steadman, met together in 1995 to turn a dream into reality.

And as a result of their efforts and those of many other volunteers, the Number 8 Community Arts Centre was born.

The group are now known as The Famous Five which consists of Ray Steadman, Jane Daniels, Keith Goddard, Jan and David Browning.

And one of the Famous Five, Mr Goddard, a trustee and former chairman of Number 8, told the Observer the town would be a lost place without the popular venue.

“Ten years ago we opened what was our dream for something for Pershore and fortunately it took off and ten years on we are now a successful outfit.

“I think there are three main reasons for its success, the fact we were able to have this site on the High Street, the incredible support we have from more than 200 volunteers and the fact that the Famous Five got on so well together was what drove the project to fruition.

“If Number 8 didn’t exist there would be a big hole in Pershore and especially on the High Street because it has made such a big impact in the town.”

Emma Bangham, programme manager at Number 8, added: “I have found it an amazing place to work, there’s such a brilliant atmosphere here.

“Meeting and talking to the people and the different characters you see here day in and day out is the highlight of my job. There are people who volunteer once a fortnight to those who come here every day and they care so much about the place and are full of ideas.”

Looking to the future plans currently in consideration include expanding the activities programme and potentially redeveloping the foyer area of the building.

Celebrations will continue throughout the next few months with ‘Ten of the Best’ events – ten very special shows which exemplify the high quality entertainment that Number 8 is known for.

Number 8 bar staff Adrian Pawsey, Mariana Dumitru, Sarah Colloby and Anne Peebles raise a toast to mark the venue’s tenth anniversary. (s)

Members of Pershore Operatic and Dramatic Society also took to the stage to mark the celebrations. (s)

Number 8 Youth Theatre perform a comedy sketch of the usual scenes seen at the Number 8 reception over the years. (s)

Three of the Famous Five – Keith Goddard, Jan Browning and Jane Daniels cut the cake. (s)

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