AN Ellesmere Port theatre company has come to the aid of low-income families by giving out hundreds of free activity packs for youngsters to enjoy.

Despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus lockdown, which put a sudden halt to The Boaty Theatre Company's plans to host its latest production, the company has been able to show its support to the community.

The team set its minds to work on creating activity packs bursting with creative things to do – and everything you will need to do it – for local children from low-income families, which they have delivered via primary schools and local social work teams.

Artistic director Laura J Harris explained: "The activity packs were the idea of our wonderful stage manager Terasa, who sourced all of the stationery and craft pieces and also created the content for the Boaty Activity Books themselves.

"Actor and Boaty team member, Alice Wyatt, also came onboard to assist in the lengthy task of actually putting all of these activity packs - over 400 in total! - together.

"We have been delighted to receive so many lovely messages from local children and young people, not to mention the wonderful photographs of them creating all kinds with the kit included in the activity packs.”

The Boaty Theatre Company would like to extend its thanks to Cheshire West and Chester Council and The Cheshire Foundation for supporting them during this time and in particular for funding this activity, which has enabled them to continue offering support to their local community."

The Boaty Theatre Company is a grassroots theatre company and charitable incorporated organisation that originally sprang to life at The National Waterways Museum (popularly known as the Boat Museum - hence the name) in 2010.

Since then, it has built a name and reputation that extends far beyond the town itself, but members always return to Ellesmere Port to deliver celebrated performances and to provide real opportunities for local young people and adults in the creative and performance arts industry.

Laura added: “Our management and creative team - along with the majority of our board of trustees - are Ellesmere Port born and bred.

"Other team members have grown up in the town or have close connections to our town and are incredibly proud to live and work here.”

The road hasn’t always been an easy one for the Boaty team, but they have persevered and ‘hung in’ through thick and thin, rising above every challenge and every obstacle that has fallen in their path; including the emergence and devastating effects of the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Having just moved into new premises on Whitby Road in February 2020, the Boaty team was - like many others - completely unprepared for the Covid-19 pandemic and impact it would have on so many industries and particularly on the creative and performing arts industry.

Laura explained: “We were literally in our final dress rehearsal for our LGBTQ+ Youth production of 'Dungeness' by Chris Thompson when we heard the news that theatres had been advised to close.

“We were supposed to be performing at Storyhouse the following evening and then at The Lowry two weeks later.”

And yet, despite the closures, the team did not allow themselves to become disheartened and swiftly set about moving their classes, rehearsals, workshops and other group activities online.

Continuing to respond to the needs of the community, Laura and the team have found the unexpected move online to be one of positive reassurance and connection that has been vital in supporting the many young people and adults who access their classes, groups and workshops during these stage and trying times.