Vicky Meets...Hazel Latus, Arun Arts chairman and operations manager at The Regis Centre
Is it true that you retired to Bognor but were persuaded by Arun Arts to use your background in entertainment at The Regis Centre?
Yes. My late husband John and I wanted to retire by the sea and learn to fly (which we did – we used to fly to France for lunch!), but life has a funny way of working out. I have been here now for six years and it is a very special place. Many of the team here are dedicated volunteers and we simply couldn’t operate without them.
How did you start out in entertainment?
I trained at the Royal Ballet School originally, but injury cut my dreams of dancing short. I tried nursing, but it wasn’t for me. From there I worked in television, starting as a gofer and moving into artist liaison. I was head-hunted by a top London agency and worked with leading actors and stars of the 80s pop scene. John and I then set up a musical publishing company and recording studio. But I will always be glad of my ballet training. It taught me discipline and shaped who I am.
What makes you stay at The Regis Centre?
It has a spirit that I have never encountered anywhere else. It is somewhere that gets under your skin and becomes addictive, mostly because of the people who work here. I was only planning to stay a year or so, but here we are planning another panto season and about to embark on our fourth summer variety show.
You introduced panto and the variety show to the venue. Have they both developed as you hoped?
Absolutely. The variety show, Live at the Regis, has grown steadily and now offers a mix of traditional acts alongside some of the most exciting new breakthrough acts. It is a great platform for new performers and the perfect traditional seaside venue for such a show. Pantomime has also gone from strength to strength. This year we’re staging the panto version of The Wizard of Oz. It is going to be wonderful.
What else should we know about the venue?
We also have studios that are used by the community for everything from dance classes to staff training sessions. We host holiday workshops for children, youth theatre groups and of course we offer shows to suit all preferences, including ballet, musicals, concerts and comedians like Jack Dee. We also have our brilliant charity shop just across the road. It really is a community venue and the District Council is very supportive of what we do.
Last year you received the Queen’s British Empire Medal for your contribution to the arts. How did that feel?
It was a huge honour and the loveliest surprise.
What is relaxation for you?
Always family. I have five children, seven grandchildren and a great grandchild due in September. They are my world.
More details and to book: www.alexandratheatre.co.uk