New theatre seat for Gary

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - WHAT’S ON - ELENA MCPHEE

Lynne Ham­mond hopes her hus­band’s name will live on when it is em­bla­zoned on a seat in the new ASB Theatre Marl­bor­ough next year.

The Blenheim woman is do­nat­ing a $3000 seat for her hus­band, who has a ter­mi­nal ill­ness.

‘‘He’s liv­ing now on bor­rowed time,’’ she says. ‘‘Doc­tors said he wouldn’t make it through the win­ter and he did.

‘‘Peo­ple will sit in his seat and see his name. It’s a way of say­ing he was here.’’

The pair have been in­volved in mu­si­cal theatre since 1997 or 1998.

Gary Ham­mond used to work back­stage at the theatre, and re­mem­bers ‘‘run­ning around with pots and pans’’ when it rained.

While his wife was a per­former, he only ap­peared on stage once at the be­hest of an en­thu­si­as­tic di­rec­tor, when he ap­peared in a pair of over­alls car­ry­ing wall­pa­per. ‘‘I didn’t say a word,’’ he says. He had hoped to carry on work­ing there af­ter he re­tired.

‘‘It was go­ing to be­come my full­time ca­reer. But I can’t do it any­more,’’ he says

Last week­end he had the chance to look around the new theatre build­ing, which he de­scribes as ‘‘very, very im­pres­sive’’.

‘‘It just blew me away. At the end of the day I think it’s all go­ing to be worth it,’’ he says.

His goal is to at­tend the first show, Mamma Mia!, next May. He does not think he will be able to make it up to the seat, which is in the sil­ver sec­tion, in the mid­dle of the theatre.

‘‘Very prob­a­bly I will never sit in it. If I go to a show I will have to sit in a wheel­chair.’’

Lynne says she is ‘‘to­tally sup­port­ive’’ of the new theatre and ‘‘thrilled to con­trib­ute’’.

Their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren live around Marl­bor­ough and it will be ‘‘quite a thing’’ for them to see his name on the seat, she says.

Peo­ple can spon­sor plat­inum, gold, sil­ver and bronze seats in the new theatre . Seats range from $1500 each in the ‘‘bronze’’ sec­tion to $10,000 each in the ‘‘plat­inum’’ sec­tion. Those who spon­sor a seat get a min­i­mum of 24 hours’ ad­vance book­ing for shows.

PHOTO: DEREK FLYNN/FAIR­FAX NZ

Lynne Ham­mond, left, is spon­sor­ing a $3000 seat in the new theatre for her hus­band Gary, which will have his name on it.

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