A DEDICATED programme of performing arts encompassing music, poetry, dance, puppetry and drama has helped to breathe new life into the Commemoration Hall for the last 18 months. More people have entered through its doors than ever before as the building

A DEDICATED programme of performing arts encompassing music, poetry, dance, puppetry and drama has helped to breathe new life into the Commemoration Hall for the last 18 months.

More people have entered through its doors than ever before as the building proves a magnet due to the many and varied events being staged there.

The arts have the power to transform and enrich our lives and they are doing just this for the people of Huntingdon, as well as helping to bring a much-needed night-time economy into the town. Ticket prices are accessibly priced, giving those who do not have the ability to go to nearby cities for their entertainment the chance to see some great performances on their doorstep.

New opportunities such as the free Shakespeare 4 Kidz workshops by professional practitioners over two days later this month are being offered. It is hoped that with money raised from events and new grant funding, many more opportunities such as this will be offered so the community will be able to take part in arts events as well as being members of an audience. It is hoped this programme will attract new audiences and support for the performance groups that have historically used the hall.

This building is bringing benefit to more people in Huntingdon than ever. What a fitting tribute to the men and women of the Second World War, to whose memory it was dedicated.

Let's improve the facilities the hall has for everyone - better seating, sound and lighting, and café facilities with a proportion of the profits being ploughed back into the building, and multi-functional rooms accessible to all members of the community.

There should be some area within it dedicated to those from the town who served in the war, not merely a plaque hidden below the stairs which everybody misses, but maybe a theme with photos of these very people and tales of their heroic deeds. That dedication and respect does not need to be reflected in its name.

The front part of the building, for instance, dates from an earlier period and had a different name. Let's not forget the past and let's not live in it, either. Celebrate it, embrace it, but don't let it hold us back.

The word theatre is too narrow for the hall. This is a grand building with a grand history and a grand future.

COLLETTE NICHOLLS, Chairman, PaTCH (Performing Arts at The Commemoration Hall)

* I WOULD like to add to the Commemoration Hall factfile (August 23).

When I moved to Huntingdon in 1943, the Commemoration Hall was known as the Literary Institute, no longer the original Science and Reading Rooms.

Huntingdon residents were united in their desire to honour those who died in the war with a worthy memorial. They raised a considerable sum from several years of dedicated efforts for this purpose, with the objective of building a new public hall on a site, disused former tennis courts, which is now occupied by a medical surgery on the ring road.

As this proved too expensive, the money was used for a major renovation and upgrade of the Literary Institute, which was appropriately re-named the Commemoration Hall.

It would be a grave disservice to the memory of brave men and women to change the name, least of all to that of a Greek goddess.

In recent years, the hall may have been affectionately known as the "Commem", but the "Crem" is short for crematorium.

JOAN LUMLEY, Almond Close, Godmanchester