Workington theatre owners left "devastated" as vandals cause £8,000 of damage before Christmas

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Members of a theatre have been left "devastated" and "angry" after it was broken into and vandalised just a week before their Christmas play was due to begin.

The Theatre Royal in Workington suffered extensive damage estimated to be over £8,000 when vandals broke in on Wednesday 29 November.

Four 16-year-old boys were arrested in connection with the incident and have been released on police bail.

Now, theatre owners Workington Playgoers have expressed their anger and disappointment at the incident which they believed was caused by the vandals using props from the upcoming production of Last of the Summer Wine.

Theatre owners Workington Playgoers believe the vandals used a cricket ball from Last of the Summer Wine to cause damage. Credit: ITV Border

"I am hurt, angry and in complete disbelief that a group of people could destroy all our hard work so easily," explained director Becky Wilson. "We have photos that have been lovingly found and backed onto the walls.

"There are photos of previous shows around the room. These are our friends, our colleagues and our memories. Lots of members who are on the walls are no longer with us. It is a real shame that these photos have been vandalised."

"I was devastated," Playgoers Workington President, Pat Brinicombe added. "Some people said they cried but I didn't cry.

"I was very annoyed. I was very angry because a passionate group of people doing something useful in the community and for the community can have their work ruined by some mindless individual who decides that they're going to wreck it."

The Christmas play is still to go ahead as planned. Credit: ITV Border

The group's full focus is now on making repairs in time for opening night. They have received support from the Workington community while other theatres have also offered to supply equipment.

"We've got lots of offers of help from all over the county with regards to materials and money," said facilities manager Tony Magorrian. "We've even had an offer from the Sands Centre in Carlisle for any sound equipment we wanted.

"All the local theatres offered their help as well."

The Christmas play is still to go ahead as planned and the group hopes it will help the theatre recover from the vandalism.

"It'd be great if people would come and see the show," said Playgoers chair Anne Bowmer. "We've had a difficult time as all theatres have since COVID to get people back into live theatre. I'm hoping that it'll be a performance that people will really find funny and they'll enjoy."

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