NHS workers honoured with open-air performance space in Surrey

The Stage Sept 22, 2022 by Giverny Masso

A performance space in Surrey that has been dedicated to the NHS, key workers and volunteers who have helped during the Covid pandemic has been granted planning permission. 

The bandstand in Meadowbank Park in Dorking will also serve as a memorial to those who have suffered or lost their lives during the pandemic. 

It will provide a “much-needed permanent outdoor performance space in the centre of Dorking”, resident Stephen Williams – who is behind the idea – said.

Williams, who is a musician, began exploring the plans in March 2021.

He has since formed a charitable organisation to drive the project forward and was earlier this month granted planning permission for the bandstand by Mole Valley District Council.

It will have three main uses: a series of Sunday afternoon bandstand concerts called Music in Meadowbank, up to eight large commercial events per year and events and performances by local groups. 

Williams said: “We need to honour and remember all those who have helped us through the pandemic. Dorking needs an open-air performing venue and we need to remember those who have suffered or died. 

“What better than a new bandstand to replace the one we lost in the early 1960s? The idea is already being very strongly supported by the local council and a wide variety of performing groups and other organisations.”

A fellow trustee of the charity set up to manage the project Nick Wright said: “I warmly welcome the decision and the support that this represents for this project by the council. We can now get to grips with the key issue of raising funds and finalising design and supply matters.”

Williams said the group was aiming to raise £170,000 to build the bandstand through crowdfunding and grants, as well as up to £40,000 to support the running of the venue over the next five years. 

The designs are to be developed further but Williams said the octagonal bandstand will have a width of 8.5 metres.