AFTER weeks of fundraising, Peebles' Eastgate Theatre has finally reached its £70,000 target.

The urgent call was made at the beginning of July to collect the money in just two months.

And on Thursday, August 30, thanks to the efforts of hundreds of people, companies in Tweeddale and many other local organisations, the ambitious target was reached.

The fundraising effort has now triggered the release of a European Leader grant of £150,000, along with a combination of other grants, which means that the theatre now has the budget to transform its auditorium.

The revamp forms phase one of the 'Building on success' strategy to develop the building and make it more customer friendly and fit to meet increasing demand.

If the plans go to schedule, by the end of summer 2019 the auditorium will be developed to designs by Simpson & Brown Architects.

A raft of improvements will be made, including existing retractable seating replaced with new, better padded seats and increased legroom, plus aisle seats fitted with hand grabs, to help customers move up and down the steps more easily.

The current balcony seats that provide a restricted view of the stage will be replaced by around 24 new seats on diagonally stepped platforms.

They will offer a full view of the stage when two sections of solid balcony are replaced with steel rail and glass panels.

Also, new swivel stools, in the section of the balconies closest to the stage, will allow the theatre to offer some seats at a reduced ticket price.

Low level safety lighting will be introduced into the new side balconies, and new heating ducts will be installed to deliver hot air at floor level.

Sir David Younger, chair of the Eastgate board of directors said: “The Board would like to thank most sincerely the Eastgate staff, the Friends of the Eastgate and all donors who rose magnificently to the challenge of raising a sizeable sum of money in a very short space of time.

“The theatre was first developed in 2004 by the efforts of the local community and it is heartening for all of us to realise that all these years later it is still so valued.

“By levering the European Leader grant the local fundraising has made a huge impact locally.

“This, combined with the success of general manager Caroline Adam in attracting other significant capital grants will help to ensure that the people of Tweeddale and much further afield have an arts venue well equipped to meet future needs.”

Donations to the appeal came in all shapes and sizes ranging from a little boy who put 50p of his pocket money into the donations box in the foyer to an American couple who transferred a four-figure sum. A bullock donated by local farmer Robert Barr now has Muchacoo (About Nothing) on his passport after dozens of visitors to the Peebles Agricultural show each paid £5 to name him.

All of the money raised will go towards the development of the Eastgate Theatre building.

Discussions are already underway about progressing to phase two which will improve and reconfigure the foyer/café areas.