Picture Gallery: Douglasdale Players Ae A Moose and Men

Community effort...Ae A Moose and Men saw around 40 cast members take to the stage in Douglas Primary School last month. (Pic: Sarah Peters)
Community effort...Ae A Moose and Men saw around 40 cast members take to the stage in Douglas Primary School last month. (Pic: Sarah Peters)

Few community groups can lay claim to raising more than £50,000 for charity in the last 39 years.

But as the curtain fell on the 2018 Douglasdale Players show, Ae A Moose and Men, it was revealed that the dedicated Douglas group has done just that.

It’s a staggering figure and one which Players can be rightly proud.

Probably none more so than founding member Jimmy Clarkson, who wrote and produced the group’s first four shows.

Jimmy (77), also known to legions of school pupils as the former head teacher at Douglas Primary School, recalled how it all started.

He said: “Douglas St Brides Church was due to celebrate its bi-centenary in 1981 and asked members of the congregation to consider how to celebrate this milestone in its history.

“A group of us met on a Wednesday night for a drink and a blether and discussed the possibility of putting on a show.”

Those discussions led Jimmy and his friends into persuading other talented locals to sign up.

And the very first show, Carry on Clootie written by Jimmy, was performed in March 1980 in the old Douglas Primary School.

Jimmy recalled: “I remember the late George Reid saying we’d started something and we wouldn’t get away with it as a one-off.

“And he was proven right as we’re now looking forward to our 40th anniversary!”

Preparations are already underway with the Players choreographer, Claire Docherty, working on the 2019 script, loosely based on Alice in Wonderland.

Like all other Players shows before it, the 2019 production will be written, directed and produced by group members – meaning lots of in-jokes and digs at local worthies!

It’s a winning formula which has been a hit with audiences for more than three decades and the Players have no plans to change it now.

This year’s show, Ae A Moose and Men, was written, directed and produced by a member of the Players’ live band, drummer Fraser Goodwin.

Fraser has been drummer in the band for 35 years but after helping with directing, he decided to give it a go.

And it went down a storm with audiences when it was performed in Douglas Primary School from March 14 to March 17.

Based on the characters from a famous Sunday Post cartoon strip, it had the usual mix of drama, baddies, music and dance and, of course, plenty of laughs along the way too!

It’s not yet known how much this year’s show raised but the fundraising tally from previous shows has taken the Players total to more than £50,000.

Among the local charities it has helped are St Brides Church, St Brides Centre, Lady Home Hospital, Stanmore House School, Law Hospital, Little Haven in Forth, Douglas Gala Day and Lesmahagow Day Centre.

National charities have also received donations from the Players over the years.

And it’s all thanks to a group of dedicated locals who ensure the Players go from strength to strength.

Jimmy added: “We had about 40 cast members this year, who were ably backed up by the backstage and front of house crews.

“It’s one of the biggest events on the local calendar and it’s a huge community effort every year.

“We’ve got children, mums, dads, grans and grandads who all muck in to make the show a success.

“And, of course, we get a tremendous amount of support from both the local community and in the wider Clydesdale area.

“Every one of them helped us break through the £50,000 fundraising mark, which we were over the moon to realise.”

As for next year, former Players and special guests are being invited back for the 40th year and Jimmy even hopes to return to the stage for a cameo appearance!

For more information on the group, simply like its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/douglasdaleplayers.