Friends of The Theatre Royal [St Helens] Trust

The Theatre Royal closed on 2 April 1984 causing consternation to some of the regular users of the Theatre.

Tony Hewitt, Founder and Director of the Unnamed Players who used the Theatre twice a year, asked Enid Pennington, also a member of the Unnamed Players to call a meeting of Chairpersons and Secretaries of local Societies. Such was the interest that a following public meeting was called.  This was held in the Theatre Royal on 10th May 1984 and a decision was taken to form a ‘FRIENDS OF THE THEATRE ROYAL’  with the following committee members:  President - The Lady Pilkington, Chairman -Tony Hewitt, Vice Chairman - John Coventry, Secretary - Enid Pennington, Treasurer - Bert Devlin with a representative from each Society to make up the Committee.

The first fundraising event was a Garden Party held at Windle Hall, the home of the president, Lady Pilkington, with Ken Dodd providing the entertainment.  The Actor, John Stride, Lady Pilkington's son-in-law was also present.   This became a popular and annual Event until Lady Pilkington's death in 1998 after which we endeavoured to hold the Event at Moss Lane and in member’s gardens.

Thousands of pounds were raised by the’ FRIENDS’ at Fashion Shows, Race Nights, an Annual Ball at The Town Hall, Jazz, Quiz  and Western Nights,  and various Dinners at local Hotels as well as Chinese Nights.  The Theatre Royal Trust re-carpeted the whole Theatre with heavy quality carpet throughout but during refurbishment it was thought less expensive to replace it rather than to try to protect it.

Coffee mornings were held every Saturday morning to raise funds and with the money raised the Trust was able to provide a complete Sound System, Stage Curtains, Mirrors for the Bar area, Equipment for the Coffee Bar, Paint for the Dressing Rooms, Furniture for the Foyer, Electric Hand Dryers for the Toilets, Photocopiers for the Office, replacement of piano in the Orchestra Pit, a Toilet for the Disabled, recovering of seats, Microphones, Hoovers, a Computer, a Chandelier for the Staircase, (lost during refurbishment) a new Sound Deck and lights for the Gantry above the Dress Circle and many other items.

The Friends hold regular Quiz Evenings in the Theatre Circle Bar and details can be obtained by ringing Enid on 0151-426-6180 or emailing her on: epennington18@googlemail.com

During 2015 Ken Dodd very generously donated £500 towards repairing the Lift at the Theatre and as a thank you to Ken, the 'Friends of the Theatre' had his name put on a seat plaque in the theatre, so a massive thank you to Ken for his kind generosity. We are inviting interested individuals to join our fund raising scheme called ‘NAMES ON A SEAT’ for only £100 per person. Any interested persons or businesses please ring Enid Pennington for an application form on: 0151-426-6180 or e-mail: epennington18@googlemail.com. Membership of the FRIENDS costs £5 a year and anyone interested in becoming a member should contact Mrs Jayne Glover, 111 Broadway, Eccleston, St Helens WA10 5PJ.

The present committee members are: President – Nicholas Wilding, Chairman – Enid Pennington, Treasurer – Jayne Glover, Secretary – Andrea Molyneux, Publicity Tony Glover, Committee members – Christina Duncan, Eileen Molyneux and new member Lynn Sweeney.