How Clooneys saved village theatre from woodworm!
HOW do you win planning approval to build flats on your land? Well, it helps if you first befriend the local celebrities who live next door.
George and Amal Clooney’s neighbour by the Thames in Berkshire has just won approval for a development of five properties after the Hollywood star and his human rights lawyer wife lodged no objections.
The housing project is at The Mill At Sonning theatre, which is run by Sally Hughes.
Ms Hughes had the Clooneys over to watch performances and allowed them to use her car park for the many contractors renovating their nine- bedroom, eight- bathroom mansion, which they bought for £7.5 million in 2014 and have since spent £12.5million doing up.
‘The Clooneys are regular members of the audience at The Mill and want it to be on a secure financial footing,’ says a source close to the theatre.
Ms Hughes is building the flats to help pay a £1 million bill caused by woodworm at the theatre — a converted 18th-century flour mill on a small island in the Thames.
The American actor, 57, and Amal, 40, whose family moved to Buckinghamshire from Lebanon in the Eighties, have regularly demonstrated their support for their theatre since moving in to Sonning. In February, Dame Judi Dench’s daughter, Finty Williams, revealed that Clooney had watched her perform in a play at The Mill. ‘He bought us all drinks afterwards,’ she said.
And the cast of My Fair Lady were surprised when a bouquet of flowers arrived from the Clooneys, congratulating them on their performance.
‘Amal and I wanted to thank you for a fantastic night of theatre,’ the note read. ‘We loved every minute of it. You were all so wonderful . . . Thank you and have a great run. Love, George and Amal.’
The Clooneys moved into their home, which has a 60ft swimming pool, tennis court, cinema and a Thames-side pagoda, last year.
Star support: Amal and George at Prince Harry’s wedding