LETTER: Protect HAODS’ wonderful work

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I am writing in regards to ongoing news about the closure of Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre and the relocation of Horsham Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (HAODS).

I am 28 and have been a member of the society for the last three years. I had performed previously but after a few years away had completely lost my confidence.

From the start I knew I had made the right decision, you will never meet a warmer, more welcoming group than HAODS and I’m devastated to think that the relocation that has been suggested could mean the end of the society as we know it.

I have since not only been involved from the performance side but joined committee, regularly help with publicity, arrange social events and produce posters and programmes for every show.

HAODS is not just about indulging a love of performing, there are so many areas that people can get involved in, from costumes, to props and back stage work. Many of these teach valuable life skills that are hard to find elsewhere and the friendships forged when pulling together for a common cause are irreplaceable.

The council are making big promises publicly that HAODS will be moved to the Drill Hall but are backtracking when questioned behind closed doors, there was even a suggestion that the society would only have access once a week – there is just no way a society can be run with that little access to rehearsal space.

HAODS House is currently used nearly every night of the week, producing extremely high quality musicals (as anyone who saw our latest production of Sweeney Todd will agree), rehearsing plays and, something I think sets us apart from other societies, running regular social events for charity.

Unlike a lot of societies HAODS currently has a large amount of young members (not to mention our Young HAODS group) and as well as being involved in productions, events such as our open mic nights are invaluable, I have seen it help build not only confidence on stage but off it too. This is just one example of why HAODS is much more than just another am dram group and offers much more to the community.

If we move to the Drill Hall with the offer as currently stated, the lack of regular access would mean these events would be the first thing to go. In time the standard of our shows will inevitably have to slip without the facilities needed; and the high production values of our shows is something HAODS take great pride in.

Without the correct resources, I fear that many people who are so passionate about this society will eventually lose something that is so close to not only the hearts of the membership, but to those of our regular audiences, the wider community and any one that has been involved with this incredible group in any capacity over the last three decades.

HAODS has a history going back 60 years – let’s hope that in the next few years the council don’t force this legacy to become a distant memory.

BECKY MUNDEN

Corsletts Avenue, Broadbridge Heath