Over 400 people gathered at Peter Symonds College on Saturday night (April 5) to commemorate the centenary of the Edwardian-style auditorium – considered by some as the very cultural heart of the city.
Boasting 200 performances and 70,000 visitors a year the theatre’s history was marked with an array of entertainment for some of Winchester’s most notable figures.
Guests were welcomed with a wine reception, courtesy of Wine Utopia, while Symonds band Midnight Madness played light jazz. A three-course dinner, provided by local chef Aundi Mason, was served while Winchester Magical Society magicians entertained guests at their tables.
After dinner, local disco and funk band Headrush performed some well-known floor-fillers followed by top DJ James Flint who spun his decks.
Maxim’s boutique sponsored a vodka luge for the evening and there was a traditional fairground with dodgems outside for guests who wanted to enjoy a thud or two.
Organiser, Catherine Skinner, said: “We put a ball on two years ago for the Royal Hampshire County Hospital to raise money for the Magic Wand Appeal which aims to improve the children’s ward. A few of us locals got together to put it on as we hadn’t been to a ball since leaving university and thought it would be a lovely thing to do and we managed to raise over £8,000.
“Mark Courtice, chief executive of the Theatre, approached us to run the centenary ball for them off the back of it and it’s brought so many members of the community together. We’ve had so much support, particularly from Belgarum and Millgate and so many others, who have given so much through sponsorship.
“We’ve had over 50 residents come in to help put together all the decorations and layout for this evening; even the organisation of it all has pulled people together. We’ve got some amazing auction prizes and we hope we hope everyone has an amazing time celebrating the centenary.”
As well as a raffle there was a silent auction which included the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip. The top prize was a three-day charter for up to 11 people on board a luxury 86ft motor yacht called Lady Tatiana of London based in Mallorca including a captain, chef, stewardess and first mate.
Proceeds from the evening will be used to maintain the theatre in the face of progressive funding cuts. Though the figures have yet to be finalised organisers predict they had raised approximately £10,000 during the course of the evening.