DELIGHTED theatre bosses are celebrating after a groundbreaking project for film fans suffering from dementia secured extra funding.

Halstead’s Empire Theatre is restarting its dementia-friendly cinema which ran for a trial period last year.

The new funding means the theatre can run special screenings for the next three years.

They are designed for people with dementia by having the lights up a little, the sound lower and an interval.

Theatre spokesman Mike George said: “We are delighted that we can continue with this, and this year we intend screening ten films right up to Christmas”

“The dementia cinema has been a very successful and rewarding project.

“The theatre has regularly had visitors from all over the district and from Hatfield Peverel, Haverhill and Clacton.

“We want to welcome not only people living with dementia and their partners and carers but also our invitation goes out to a wider field, to people who may be lonely and those who feel vulnerable in our community.

“We have a meet and greet room where we invite people to come and enjoy free tea, coffee, biscuits and cake and meet other local people.”

Care UK’s Kim Richardson is involved in pioneering the project with the Empire.

She said:

“The trial period went from strength to strength with over 100 attendees at the last screening.

“Our guests very kindly completed feedback forms and it was evident from them that everyone wanted the project to continue proving to be a lifeline for some people.

“I’m not entirely sure why the Empire in Halstead has been such a success, but I think it’s testament to the friendly welcome everyone receives and the social aspect of the meet and greet at the beginning.

“We feel it is important to keep the event free to keep those in social isolation coming and hopefully grow it as an enriched community event.

“People are making friends at the event and we feel this is an important factor.”

Last year the Empire put on dementia-friendly screening of Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz and White Christmas over a four-month period.

The first showing this year is Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, starring Lily James, Amanda Seyfried and Cher, on Thursday, February 14, at 2.30pm.