Chairman of Arun Arts Hazel Latus was delighted with the immense personal honour when she was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s birthday honours list for voluntary service to the arts in Bognor Regis.
But Hazel insists the true context for the award is that it reflects a Bognor Regis that is most definitely on the up. Hazel is thrilled that the Regis Centre – where she is executive producer and operations director – is playing such a key part in boosting the town’s standing.
She dedicated her BEM to the volunteers who make the Regis Centre such a special place.
“I want to say that I am so proud of everyone here and our journey so far.
“Our aim is to provide a welcoming and warm community venue for all ages to enjoy and feel proud of. We are definitely a volunteer-run venue, but we are a professional theatre through and through, run by passionate people for the people. We aim to bring varied entertainment for all ages at the right price and offer affordable rehearsal space and meeting spaces in all of our three studios too.
“We have an extraordinary balance of volunteer and paid people all passionate about the building and what happens in it. We follow on from a long line of volunteers who have kept everything going for us to build upon.”
Hazel admits she was nonplussed when she first heard about the honour: “I didn’t understand it. I thought ‘Where has this come from?’ I had no idea. It made me feel very humble, but I was concerned about all the people that contribute, all the people that do all the things, all the people that I couldn’t do the things I do without… I just thought that I shouldn’t accept the honour, that I am really not worthy of it without them. I just couldn’t make sense of any of it. It was very humbling.
“The entire front of house at the Regis Centre are volunteers. Not one person is paid. The box office, the cafe, the ushers, they are all volunteers.”
Hazel accepted the honour on the basis that it was an honour that honoured them all.
“I am very lucky to have had supportive people around me. I couldn’t have done it without them or without my lovely John (her late husband). Since he passed away, the Regis Centre really has been a life-saver. It has been something lovely to focus on, and I would like to think that we have made a difference, and also I still have quite a few contacts from my background as a theatrical agent.”
Among the highlights coming up this summer is Live At The Regis from Thursday to Sunday, August 9-12 (Thursday and Friday 7.30pm, Saturday 2.30pm and 7.30pm and Sunday 2.30pm), starring Joe Pasquale and Hilary O’Neil.
Tickets on 01243 861010 or www.regiscentre.co.uk.