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Long-serving Suffolk cinema worker up for BAFTA award

PUBLISHED: 16:24 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 14:34 02 January 2020

Former Abbeygate Cinema manager Pat Church has been nominated for a BAFTA competition award.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Former Abbeygate Cinema manager Pat Church has been nominated for a BAFTA competition award. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A cinema legend has been nominated for a BAFTA award in recognition of his exceptional contribution to Bury St Edmunds through the big screen for more than 50 years.

Former Abbeygate Cinema manager Pat Church could be heading down to London for the BAFTA awards ceremony if he is one of the two winners.  Picture: ARCHANTFormer Abbeygate Cinema manager Pat Church could be heading down to London for the BAFTA awards ceremony if he is one of the two winners. Picture: ARCHANT

Pat Church, who has worked at the Abbeygate Cinema for more than half a century, has been named as a finalist in the For the Love of Film award by five industry experts.

The 72-year-old is one of nine people nominees and the two winners, announced in January, will be invited to attend the BAFTA awards ceremony in London in February.

The Bury resident first joined the historic cinema as a projectionist in the 1960s, aged just 19 - and has seen the cinema through 12 different owners and four near-closures.

"I've been quite overwhelmed to be honest," he said. "I thought it was a hoax when I first got the news.

Former Abbeygate Cinema manager Pat Church has been nominated for a BAFTA competition award.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNFormer Abbeygate Cinema manager Pat Church has been nominated for a BAFTA competition award. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"So much has changed in since I started at the cinema. The whole world has developed and so has cinema. I used to used 35mm film in the 60s.

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"I feel like I'd be letting people down if I didn't win but it is only a nomination after all.

"I'd like to think I have a chance, if you see the reaction from everyone since I was nominated.

Pat Church celebrates 50 years at the Abbeygate Cinema Picture House in Bury. Picture: ARCHANTPat Church celebrates 50 years at the Abbeygate Cinema Picture House in Bury. Picture: ARCHANT

"I'd love to be able to take the Abbeygate name down to London if I did win and showcase it there not for me but for the staff and for all the patrons."

Mr Church saved the picture house in 1975 after the owners were considering closing it down believing that home video would end spell the end of the cinema, but the employee wrote an updated business plan convincing the owners to give the cinema one more chance, was promoted to manager and has worked with the cinema ever since.

Showing his passion for the big screen, Mr Church told his bosses that cinema is something special because "it envelops you into the screen," giving the viewer something they "can't recreate at home."

Now semi-retired, Mr Church is still active in the Abbeygate's operation and embraces the title of casual manager which keeps him busy during the week.

His nomination lists his personal, caring and individual service whi


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