FERRING Amateur Dramatic Society was launched to the world on April 1 1931 - but the folks behind it were no April fools.
As the Society celebrates its 80th birthday this month (April), it can long back on a proud and happy record of success.
Pat Attree has been a member for all but the first 28 years of those 80, joining FADS in 1959.
“I worked with a friend of mine who was a member and she said ‘Why don’t you come along?’ I enjoyed it very much. I started off doing props and then graduated to smaller parts.”
She’d done some pantos before, but FADS gave her the chance to flourish as an actress - and as everything else. Down the decades she has worked both behind the scenes and on the stage, directing, doing props, prompting and serving as FADS secretary for 40 years.
On the boards, she reckons she has now clocked up around 60 parts, among her favourites performances in The Waltz Of The Toreadors, When We Are Married and Secretary Bird.
“I do enjoy costume plays,” she says. “You get into your character more if you have got a costume. You get more of a feel for the period. You walk differently. You feel it more!”
In that respect, with their own costume store, FADS are fortunate.
“It’s a very friendly group too. We are one of the longest-running groups in West Sussex, and we have got a very loyal following. We have got a lot of patrons, about 160. They pay a subscription at the beginning of each season, and they pay in advance to see the three plays.
“Originally the group started with very modest little one-act plays, but over the years, they moved on to bigger things.
“Now it is a bit of a problem getting huge casts. Years ago, we didn’t have problems. We performed Beckett, which really is a huge cast. But we do try to vary the programme, comedies, dramas, thrillers.”
Also part of the enjoyment and the satisfaction is that over the years the group has raised thousands of pounds for charity.
“What I like is the comradeship. We are all very happy together. It’s a lovely group. If anybody has any trouble, everybody rallies around. We don’t have any sides.
“We believe that nobody is a star in a show regardless of the size of the part.
“Everybody is important. And we always encourage all our acting members to help with the sets and with painting the scenery.”