FILM fans are celebrating today after raising the £80,000 needed to save the only cinema in a Hampshire town.

Members of Lymington Community Association have taken just eight months to collect enough cash to update the projection equipment and give the ageing auditorium a major facelift.

The cinema’s old reel-to-reel system had to be replaced to enable it to screen new releases available only in digital format.

As reported in the Daily Echo members met the all-important deadline last September but still needed to raise enough money to fund vital improvements to the seating area.

They have now reached their overall target and aim to start transforming the auditorium in June.

Community association chairman Derek Gurney said: “It was essential that this unique facility was retained. It serves so many people within our midst, providing entertainment to a high standard on our doorstep.

“The Malt Hall, which houses the auditorium, is a Grade II listed building which dates from the 1700s and is in need of refurbishment.

“Sensitive alterations will be made to allow the intimate ambience to be retained along with great comfort.”

Drawings of the new-look cinema are being prepared and are due to go on display at the community centre next month.

Jane Viveash, head of the fundraising team, said a grand reopening was planned for late summer.

She added: “We’d like to thank all those who have supported the appeal. It’s been heart-warming to have received such a generous response from local people – and in such a short time.”

Donors still have an opportunity to “Save a Seat” in memory of a loved one.

Jane said: “Any further donations are still welcome and will give the opportunity to add some extras when carrying out the refurbishment.”

The 110-seat cinema opened in the 1950s and currently shows about 40 films a year, watched by audiences totalling 6,000.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the action comedy Red 2, starring Bruce Willis, was the first film to be screened on the new projection equipment.

Speaking at the time centre manager Penny Bicknell said: “It’s absolutely fantastic.

“The screen quality and sound are incredible and we can now compete with Southampton and Bournemouth.”