PAST and present members and supporters of The Worthy Players celebrated the group’s Golden Jubilee.

The group, which meets at the Jubilee Hall in Kings Worthy, was founded in 1973.

It was originally started by the Worthies Women’s Institute which performed annual pantomimes and one-act plays for festivals. Later, their husbands became involved and it developed into The Worthy Players.

The 50th anniversary cake was cut by the longest-serving member Shirley Lovell.

Hampshire Chronicle: Shirley cutting the cakeShirley cutting the cake (Image: The Worthy Players)

Shirley, 89, said: “I joined the Worthy Players in 1977 when we moved to the area from Devon. My first show was the pantomime Puss in Boots and I was in the chorus but over the years I became more involved and enjoyed acting and directing, working as a choreographer and much more. It’s hard to believe The Worthy Players is 50 years old. It’s been through a few tricky times over the years but always rejuvenated.”

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Long-term members, Alison and David Woolford, recounted witty anecdotes at the celebration. David said: “We have had so many thespians and helpers come and go and everyone has played a part in the success of the Worthy Players. Hopefully, they got something out of it too.”

A slide show featuring every production from the last 50 years was played to the guest and a collection of old programmes was also on show.

Over the years there have been several romances between the members. Dai and Lorraine Henley told the parish magazine they “fell in love on the stage” while performing in a play called When we are Married in 1980.  The pair have now been married for 33 years.

Mr Henley said: “The Worthy Players changed my life. It was such fun. It’s amazing that it’s now 50 years old and great to see so many people here. It was such a wonderful community and gave me very happy days and such a lovely part of my life.”

Hampshire Chronicle: The cakeThe cake (Image: The Worthy Players)

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Previous member Richard Gomm travelled all the way from Devon for the festivities. He joined in 1975, starting off backstage initially before being enticed onto the boards with a production called Flat Spin in 1978.

Richard remembers how he and his on-screen wife had to drink a bottle of wine on stage each night and so were “slightly merry” by the end of the performance. As well as acting and building scenery, he also directed and was chairman of the group for several years. He said: “The Worthy Players meant a lot to me.  I was here most Sundays as we did four performances a year in those days. We put in a lot of effort to make the sets look good. Looking at the slide show I can see many of the sets that I helped create.

“The group gives you a chance to try new things. I was a carpenter and enjoyed creating all manner of sets from spaceships to period rooms. It makes me feel old to think that the Worthy Players is now 50 but I’m so glad it’s still going strong.”

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Chairman Martin Pettigrew said: “A great time was had by all at our Golden Anniversary party and it was fantastic to see so many returning past members and current supporters. A huge thank you from me to our organising team Gina Bird, Julie Pettigrew and Janine Blackmore and everyone who played a part in making it such a magnificent and enjoyable afternoon never to be forgotten. 

“It was best summed up by past member Roy Derrick who said ‘despite the weather outside there was much sunshine inside the hall, you and the Worthy members put on a magnificent celebration party, which fully reflected the welcome I felt when I was a member.’”

This month the group is holding auditions for December’s pantomime Dick Whittington, the same panto that was performed 50 years ago. For more information or to get involved go to