Celebration gala forSt Mary's restoration

THIRTY years of restoration work have helped revive the 15th century St Mary's House in Bramber.

South Korean baritone Changhan Lim has won many international awards

The tireless efforts of owners Peter Thorogood and Roger Linton, which earned them an MBE, are celebrated in a gala concert on Saturday.

The event marks the completion of restoration, which started in 1984, when the pair bought the historically distinguished and architecturally important manor house.

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Administrator Alan Durden said: “This joyous evening of celebration will be a very special occasion, with favourite music from grand opera, operetta and musical theatre presented by Diva Opera.

“The singers are Catriona Clark and Laura Parfitt (sopranos), Nicolas Ransley (tenor), the celebrated South Korean baritone Changhan Lim, all under the direction of Bryan Evans (piano).”

Diva Opera has given more than 1,200 performances of 40 different operas throughout Great Britain and Europe.

The company performs regularly with the internationally-acclaimed tenor, José Carreras, who was also joined by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to sing at the Royal Albert Hall in the glamorous scene from Die Fledermaus.

Each year the company gives more than 40 fully-staged performances, which have taken them as far as Japan, and notably to the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. They have also sung in the presence of royalty.

The concert marks the completion of the restoration of both the house and gardens.

Mr Thorogood is an author, composer and literary historian, and Mr Linton is a gifted designer, restorer and conservator.

They combined their talents and skills in the work on St Mary’s House, which included saving the Victorian gardens with their original potting sheds and apple store.

Mr Durden said: “It is difficult, if not impossible, to put into words the hard work and enthusiasm which Peter Thorogood and Roger Linton have inspired in their volunteers to help to bring the house and gardens to their present peak of perfection.

“It has required their courage as well as devotion in taking on this tremendous task, but their aim has been, and is, to remain open to the public, to groups, schools and societies of every description.”

For their services to conservation and the arts, Mr Thorogood and Mr Linton were each awarded the MBE in 2006 in the Queen’s 80th Birthday Honours.

The Celebration Gala Concert at St Mary’s House, Bramber, starts at 7.30pm. It features excerpts and arias from grand opera and songs from musical theatre.

Tickets cost £30, which includes champagne and canapés in the interval. Black tie is optional.

Tickets from the box office on 01903 816205, email [email protected], or go to the website www.stmarysbramber.co.uk for more information.