A MUCH-LOVED theatre group is facing closure just one year away from celebrating its centenary.

The Dunmow Players, which has been a local institution since 1921, will be forced to close unless the group can raise £3,000 before the end of January.

The group has struggled to stay open due to rising costs and a drop in charitable donations.

Over the past century, the group has established itself as a place to help hundreds of people experience live theatre and help performers of all ages hone their skills and build confidence.

Members are currently hoping to put on a production of Big - The Musical in April, but that faces the axe if they are forced to close.

Vice-chairman Emily Robshaw said: “We are absolutely devastated to be faced with the prospect of winding up the Dunmow Players, just one year short of our centenary.

“I know that it means so much to so many members of the community.

“We urge everyone to dig deep and help us raise the money we need to continue to bring our fantastic shows to the people of Dunmow.”

Fans have expressed their support for the group.

Kay Clark said: “The show we saw was absolutely fabulous. Why go to the West End when we have the same quality of performance in Great Dunmow? We were totally blown away with it.”

Lucy Myers, said: “I was so impressed with the quality of singing, acting, playing and costumes.

“They are fantastic.”

A crowdfunding page has been set up to help the group.

To donate go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ dunmow-players.