WHAT a performance – Lyme's Marine Theatre has scooped a £5,000 grant in the annual round of donations from your local newspaper.

The theatre has been successful in the Gannett Foundation UK programme 2017.

The Gannett Foundation is the charitable arm of Gannett Co Inc., the parent company of Newsquest Media Group, one of the UK’s largest publishers and owners of the Bridport News.

In total, charities up and down the UK are in line for grants totalling nearly £300,000.

The trustees who make the grants agonised for days to make difficult choices from a stack of deserving applications from Dorset, but narrowed the list down to those which they thought would deliver the most worthwhile practical benefits to communities served by the News and its sister paper, the Dorset Echo.

As well as the Marine Theatre, which gets £5,000 to help improve disabled access facilities, there's also grants for the Weymouth-based Friends of M.V. Freedom to replace 15 lifejackets and Dorchester-based Dorset Reading Partners to fund news resources for volunteers supporting children with their reading.

Marine Theatre manager Gabby Rabbitts, who has recently taken over at the venue, said: “We’re delighted to receive this generous award from the Gannett Foundation, which is being used to fund the creation of a disabled toilet.

"It’s vital that our events are open to all of those in the community, and this money will make that possible.”

The Marine Theatre is described as a unique seaside theatre and a major player in the town’s year-round tourist offer. It is strongly supported by the local community and councils and welcomes more than 18,000 visitors each year. It offers a broad programme of more than 200 shows and events annually, which includes theatre, music, comedy and film, plus it plays a key role in the town’s festivals and community events.

In its application for a Gannett Foundation grant, the theatre said the front of house area is in urgent need of an upgrade to make it safe and welcoming for less able and wheelchair visitors, including providing a disabled toilet.

It says with some basic changes to the internal layout, the area could be turned into a "much more welcoming and accessible space". 

Over the last ten years alone, Newsquest has given more than £3 million to help charitable community causes all over the country.

Chairman of the trustees Simon Westrop said: “If your application did not succeed this time, please don’t be discouraged, but look at the applications that have won grants and think how you can come up with even better ideas next year.”