Doctor Who stars including David Tennant, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Paul McGann will gather at a convention in Slough today in aid of the Project Motorhouse charity. It was set up with the aim of converting the former motor museum in The Paragon into an indoor and outdoor theatre and cinema with business training space for young people.
The actors have been brought together by Ramsgate’s Janet Fielding, who also starred in the hit TV show as Peter Davison’s sidekick.
Miss Fielding has been spearheading the Project Motorhouse idea after winning initial support for her ideas from Thanet council, which owns the former motor museum in Westcliff Hall.
The actors, and series producer Stephen Moffat, will be joined by 300 people who snapped up tickets to the event, which will include an auction of Doctor Who scripts, the sale of one of Miss Fielding’s outfits from the sci-fi show and a question and answer session.
The money raised will help to pay for a condition report on the building, which has been empty since 2005, and plans for a permaculture garden at the site to be open to the public by the summer.
The proposal needs at least £5 million to stabilise and rebuild parts of the derelict property, overhaul the garden and portside terrace and fit out a cinema, theatre, restaurant and bar.
Miss Fielding, 59, said: “We (residents) formed a charity to work on this two or three years ago. We have taken an option on the site and said to Thanet council we will meet certain fundraising targets. Once they are reached, the council will hand over the freehold.
“It is difficult to know the exact amount of money we will need until we get the condition report. We are fundraising the £20,000 for that at the moment, but we think we are in for about £5 million. To just save the building and shore up the promenade and stabilise the structure will probably cost £1 million.”
Miss Fielding, who played Tegan Jovanka alongside Tom Baker and Peter Davison, is determined to carry on with the project despite having rectal cancer diagnosed last June.
The feisty former actress, who underwent more than five weeks’ chemotherapy and radiation treatment at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital during August and September, said: “The good thing about Project Motorhouse was it gave me something to focus on that was positive.
“I was diagnosed just as we started to get the option agreement (with Thanet council) signed. It looked like I was going to have to put everything on hold and I thought, ‘I can’t bear it’.
“But Peter Davidson was really good. He came to visit me and then got together with Derek Hambly of Tenth Planet and Matt Evenden of Starfish Consultancy to organise the event.
“I was also amazed at how supportive the local community was. People in Ramsgate drove me to and from Canterbury for my treatment every day, sometimes more than once a day. They shopped for me and cooked for me.
“I am glad I decided to carry on with the project, this community really deserves something good to happen for it.”
Miss Fielding is due to have a biopsy and does not yet know whether she is in remission but says she is “bouncing back”.
She is already working on plans for a further auction event, with former Doctor Who assistants, to be held in August. She is also in contact with Rippledown Environmental Centre and the Marlowe Academy school in Ramsgate about getting youngsters involved in the “incredible edibles” permaculture garden.
She said: “We hope to have residents and Marlowe Academy pupils take a three-day permaculture course at Rippledown and then work in little groups on the garden. There will be community meetings to decide what we want for those gardens.
“Hopefully we can start work in the spring and the gardens will be open to the public in the summer.”
The aim had been to complete the project by July 2014, the 100th anniversary of the building, but Miss Fielding said a four-year target date is now more realistic.
To get involved with Project Motor house, go to www.projectmotorhouse.org.uk or search Project Motorhouse on Facebook.
via This is Kent.