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Legendary cinema manager will be on the end of the phone during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 11:22 05 November 2020 | UPDATED: 12:22 05 November 2020

Abbeygate Cinema manager Pat Church will help support customers during lockdown two by being available for a chat Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Abbeygate Cinema manager Pat Church will help support customers during lockdown two by being available for a chat Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A familiar face of cinema in Bury St Edmunds is available for a chat on Monday afternoons to help alleviate loneliness.

Pat Church (left) and colleague Chris Peters outside the Abbeygate Cinema in Hatter Street, Bury St Edmunds Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNPat Church (left) and colleague Chris Peters outside the Abbeygate Cinema in Hatter Street, Bury St Edmunds Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Abbeygate Cinema manager Pat Church wants to help ease isolation for their regular customers by being on the end of a phone.

MORE: Explained: All the new lockdown rules which start today

The cinema, in Hatter Street, had been welcoming customers back with a diverse film schedule and with Covid-19 safety measures in place, but under the latest national lockdown has had to close again, from today until December 2.

The independent cinema, which opened its premier screen in the summer, says it recognised the impact a further lockdown was likely to have on their valued patrons, many of whom fall into the vulnerable category and may feel isolated during this second period of lockdown.

Mr Church, who has worked at the cinema for 55 years, has welcomed and entertained Abbeygate’s regular customers during many ups and downs and is keen to help again by offering a phone chat ‘befriending’ service during the hours 2-4pm on Mondays during lockdown.

Pat Church and Chris Peters in front of the brand new screen at the Abbeygate Cinema Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNPat Church and Chris Peters in front of the brand new screen at the Abbeygate Cinema Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

MORE: Legendary showman Pat Church is on a mission to save cinema

Mr Church said: “I have been here so many years. I have grown up with all these patrons and I talk with a lot of them, which probably makes it a little more special for me.

“I know a lot of them and those who have lost husbands or partners and are on their own and when they come to the cinema you have a chat and I thought ‘they are going to be in a room on their own for the next four weeks and what can we do for them?’”

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He added: “A familiar voice can sometimes be enough to get you out of the doldrums.”

Andrea Holmes, marketing manager, said: “Many of our regulars fall into the vulnerable category and their wellbeing will undoubtedly be impacted by a second lockdown.

“Pat has been chatting to lots of customers over recent weeks, many having only just started to come to the cinema again, their confidence building when they have seen the Covid-secure measures we have in place and this idea was born from Pat’s wish to help ease the isolation for our regular customers which a second lockdown might bring.

“Pat has a wealth of knowledge about the cinema and is a great storyteller. What better way to take away the Monday lockdown blues? Enjoy a ‘Chat with Pat’.”

MORE: Abbeygate opens premier screen on Friday with Eva Green’s Euro-space drama

The cinema is not charging for this service and the length of a call will be determined in consideration of other callers.

In other news, the cinema is working hard to reschedule films and events which fall in the period November 5 to December 2 to a later date and remain on sale including: Bolshoi Ballet - The Nutcracker, Katherine Jenkins Christmas Spectacular, It’s a Wonderful Life, Die Hard (15).

Mr Church said people could help support the cinema by purchasing gift cards, which would also give customers something to look forward to.

•Anyone who would like to ‘have a chat with Pat’ can call 01284 754477 on lockdown Mondays between 2pm-4pm.


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