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Dave Russell, Film Officer, Filmwight

Focus on Ryde!

“When you walk along the High Street in Ryde, it’s important to lift your eyes up because there is the history of the town. The buildings are just beautiful and they speak volumes about the history of the place.

“I’ve always loved the Island and more especially Ryde. My parents bought a holiday home on the Island in 1976 and I can fondly remember flying here from Coventry Airport, landing at Bembridge.

“I’ve never lost my love for the place – I’ve lived elsewhere but nothing compares.

“As a journalist and film-maker I am keen to see Ryde used as a location for films and I am actively promoting the place because we have so much history. I’ve recently been appointed Film Officer for Filmwight – the island’s first film office, with the aim of helping filmmakers and photographers to use locations on the Island and especially Ryde.

“The Heritage Action Zone gives us the opportunity to really make a difference in Ryde. A lot of people love the place and really want to see it prosper. Personally I would like to see it looking tidier and respectful planning decisions made.

“I don’t think we have made enough about Ryde’s connection with the Oscar winning director Anthony Minghella. One of my dreams is to really make the most of Minghella Square – you could make it so that you could listen to his Oscar acceptance speech by getting your phone out and hovering over a QR code.

“You could use QR codes in the Victorian graveyard in Ryde and tell the stories of the people who are buried there.

“I am particularly keen to see the Town Hall building saved and re-opened for public use. I saw Mark King from Level 42 and Suzanne Vega perform at Ryde Theatre – it is an absolute gem and could easily become as popular as Shanklin Theatre.

“It would be so great to see the whole place alive again. We could create a performance space for students and a venue for concerts – it’s like a rabbit warren inside and has so much potential as a creative space.

“We used to have big names coming to Ryde Theatre and it still retains a lot of period features. There is a roof space that would be perfect for a cafe bar with views of the Solent.

“It could become a real hub for Ryde – with room for a museum telling the story of Ryde

“I’m really pleased Ryde Town Council has taken the bull by the horns and is working with the Youth Service, helping them to establish a new base at St. Thomas Church, which is currently undergoing refurbishment.

“That bodes well for what can be achieved with the Heritage Action Zone.

“I’ve made my life on the Island working as a freelancer with BBC, ITV and Sky. It does feel as if the time is right to invest in Ryde. During the pandemic we have seen a lot of people coming here from London and we have the opportunity to bring life back to the High Street to make it look wow once again.”