Under-threat drama club is saved

'BREATHING SPACE' ... The Vision group leader Sandie Malia, left, and member Laura Meade, right, accepting a donation from Joyce Welsh, president of the Rotary club.

'BREATHING SPACE' ... The Vision group leader Sandie Malia, left, and member Laura Meade, right, accepting a donation from Joyce Welsh, president of the Rotary club.

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AN under-threat drama club has been saved thanks to the generosity of South Tynesiders.

The Vision, which has about 30 members, including some with learning and physical disabilities, was threatened with closure when its £10,000 a year funding was cut by South Tyneside Council.

Since then, club members, who range from 14 to over 40 years old, and have a variety of disabilities, including Asperger’s and Down’s Syndrome, autism and learning difficulties, have been hoping someone can help.

But now the club, based at St Jude’s Church Hall in Laygate, South Shields, has enough funding to continue for another year.

Group leader Sandie Malia said: “We now have enough to cover the venue hire for another 12 months. This gives us breathing space while we look for funding in the future, and we’re so pleased.

“We want to thank everyone for their support.”

The club is particularly grateful to South Shields Rotary Club for its donation of £1,550.

Members Laura Meade and Claire McShane approached the group of businessmen and women to ask if they could lend a hand.

Sandie said: “The girls made a huge impression on the club, and they said they’d been following the stories in the Gazette.

“They contacted us a couple of weeks ago and asked if I would go to their weekly meeting at the Little Haven Hotel.

“We jumped at the chance to take along some photos of The Vision members on stage and some stills from films we’ve made.

“Laura and I presented the photos and gave a talk about the history of the group and its importance to all the members.

“We had such a wonderful time and we’re so grateful for their donation. They’ve even asked us to perform for them in July at the inauguration ceremony of the new president.”

The group also organised a fundraising disco at The Greyhound pub in Hedworth Lane, Jarrow, which raised £568. The event also included a buffet and saw company Universal Alliance don Star Wars costumes and pose for pictures to bring in donations.

After the Gazette ran a story about the club’s funding cut, a number of people got in touch with Sandie to offer their support.

She said: “We’re just all so overwhelmed by the support we’ve been given.

“To know that the club can run for another year is amazing, and everyone is so excited.

“The members are just delighted. The group does a lot to help develop their social skills and boost their confidence, and it would be a huge miss for them if it shut down, so this is fantastic news.”

On May 19, the group is heading to Holy Island for a sponsored walk.

The Vision meets at St Jude’s Parish Hall on Wednesdays, from 6pm to 9pm, and Thursdays, from 6.30pm to 9pm.

Anyone interested in helping the group, or sponsoring it for the walk, should contact Sandie on 296 2853, or go along to meet the members.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki

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