Volunteers help out in St Albans’ Odyssey Cinema rennovation

THE interior of the Odyssey cinema in St Albans has been cleared by hard-working volunteers intent on seeing the project come to fruition.

The Odyssey is the new name for the former Odeon in London Road, an art deco building which had been empty for years until cinema entrepreneur James Hannaway launched an appeal which raised more than �1 million to buy it.

He is now trying to raise the funding to convert it into a sister picture house to his successful Rex Cinema in Berkhamsted.

Almost 30 volunteers arrived on the doorstep of the Odyssey last Tuesday and Wednesday to help clear out the interior following demolition work which removed all the walls that had previously created separate cinema auditoria together with the roof separating the ground and basement.

They donned dust masks, overalls, gloves and hard hats to pitch in and clear the building of rubble and wood.

James Hannaway said: “I have always been sceptical of volunteers, thinking that while they mean well, they won’t always be able to turn up.

“However, on these clearing days, the response was incredible. People brought their friends, and two people – Andy Larkin and Hazel Palmer – actually came both days.

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“The whole place was cleared – all the rubbish gone in two days – it was a massively unexpected result and we’re all really impressed.”

Denise Hicks, spokeswoman for the Odyssey project, said: “The volunteers did a fantastic job – the clearing has really sped up the process and will make a huge difference, enabling us to get on with the project much faster.”

She said that funding to restore the old cinema was looking more positive than ever with talks progressing well with both investors and banks.

She went on: “There is still work to do in order to now progress with securing the ?nancing to rebuild and refurb but we definitely have a renewed sense of progress. We are hoping to open the cinema in 2013 but this depends entirely on the schedule of financing which is currently being agreed.”

And she added: “Thanks again to all the locals who continue to support the project – we maintain that there are no ifs or buts – the project will be completed.

Supporters and interested parties can sign up to the mailing list at www.odysseypictures.co.uk to find contact details and be kept up to date with the latest news and opportunities to get involved.