A THEATRE has welcomed a rock star as its new patron.

Ian Gillan, lead singer and lyricist of rock band Deep Purple, has taken on the role at the Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis.

Ian lives between Portugal and Lyme Regis. He found fame in the 1970s with hard rock hits such as Smoke On The Water, Highway Star, and Child in Time.

When in Dorset, Ian regularly visits the venue for concerts, comedy, and theatre. Ian Gillan explained that he has an interest in supporting all arts, especially regionally. “It’s vital that we all support the Marine. It’s easy to undervalue arts venues, but they are so important to culture and the community. People can make a contribution is many ways - even simply by turning up. I come when I can.”

Ian made clear his passion for the Marine in particular “When you walk through the doors, it feels special. It reminds me of coming through the doors of the Albert Hall. There’s a sense of history. It’s cool to be here. You can sit in the bar and watch the stage below or climb in to it in the auditorium.  One of my favourite events was seeing George Melley.”

Looking forward, Ian said: “I am enjoying seeing it regain its vibrancy. There’s a new sense of professionalism and I am pleased to support the venue as a patron.”

Gabby Rabbitts, director of the theatre, said: “We are delighted that Ian Gillan is our patron. He’s a figurehead for musicians, and now for the Marine too. Our patrons act as advocates for the theatre to the wider world, and offer us the benefit of their experience. We can’t wait to work with him.”