Thanks to the Friends of Watersmeet and Friends of Watersmeet Film Society
Two groups of volunteers which have supported Watersmeet theatre, in Rickmansworth, over many years have been recognised by the unveiling of two special plaques.
The theatre, which is owned by Three Rivers District Council, has installed the plaques in the venue’s upper foyer to acknowledge and pay thanks to the Friends of Watersmeet and the Friends of Watersmeet Film Society. Both organisations have raised large sums of money to support the running of Watersmeet over many years.
Cllr Sarah Nelmes, Leader of Three Rivers District Council, said: “I would like to convey my personal thanks to both societies for their time, dedication and support over the years.”
Councillor Chris Lloyd, Lead Member for Leisure, added: “Their work and commitment has been valued and their fund-raising efforts have been a resounding success and the plaques that are now in prime position at Watersmeet reflect and acknowledge their hard work. Watersmeet was built when I was at school. My wife and I have enjoyed going to films, shows and events over many years.”
The Friends of Watersmeet (FOW) was formed in 2003, at that time the venue was being run by a charitable Trust. The Watersmeet Trust, negotiated with the council to transfer the venue to them on a ‘for hire’ basis having leased part of the venue to Daybreak Nursery. The FOW was formed with the remit to provide volunteers and raise funds through jazz nights, quiz evenings which helped to keep Watersmeet open. In 2005 the council took over again and re-opened Watersmeet as a ‘Venue for Hire’. The FOW worked closely with the council and Watersmeet, arranging events and recruiting volunteers through their monthly coffee mornings, which they continue to run bi-monthly.
In 2007, the FOW started the Friends of Watersmeet Film Society (FOWFS). This was run completely by volunteers and aimed to provide film entertainment for the local community while raising money to help Watersmeet stay open when threatened with closure. The venture was very successful and made a profit. In addition to screening one film per month, the FOWFS provided tea and cakes at the afternoon performances and bar refreshments at the evening shows. Ticket prices were kept low and concessions were offered to members of the Society and the elderly.
In 2017 a new committee took over the running of the film society (FOWFS). The profits were raised by hosting a wide range of events from 2003 onwards and were used to purchase a new digital projector and screen and funded the upgrading of the accessible toilet.
As the audience grew and the venue evolved, there was demand for an enhanced programme of film. In 2015, the council trialled and then decided to screen an additional range of films to complement the existing titles, and the two co-existed until 2019 when FOWFS decided to cease operations.
The FOW continue to keep close contact with the Watersmeet team, although its function has since altered. Venue staff now take responsibility for attracting and training volunteers, and the FOW no longer organise large fund-raising events, although they are happy to support others who do so and they can still help with financial projects.
The Friends of Watersmeet Film Society and the Friends of Watersmeet have said that they are just that. They are proud of what they have achieved, and are delighted by the tangible evidence of their dedication.
PHOTO CAPTION 1: Friends of Watersmeet, Friends of Watersmeet Film Society, Cllr Chris Lloyd and Watersmeet's Ben Terry and Judy Simpson.
PHOTO CAPTION 2: The plaques that commemorate the Friends of Watersmeet and Friends of Watersmeet Film Society.