A LEADING lady with a Herefordshire theatre group had a flying start when she starred in Memory of Water at Fownhope Memorial Hall.

Sally Lomax had been urged by family and friends to break a leg' - and she almost did it when she dramatically crashed off the end of a 4ft-high stage.

The 44-year-old actress, who was with the touring Bare Bones theatre group, said: "Had it been Peter Pan or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the West End it would not have been a problem, but the Bare Bones Theatre Company in rural Herefordshire do not stretch to wire for flying purposes "The audience seemed to think that flying was part of the action, albeit ambitious for a performance in a village hall."

Calls for a doctor or even a vet failed to bring a response but one helpful theatregoer with some knowledge of first aid enabled Sally to be sufficiently patched up for what was feared might be an appearance in a different kind of theatre at Hereford County Hospital.

At first Sally, who has been acting for 25 years, recovered her dignity and tried to carry on.

"I stood up ready to continue and my leg collapsed underneath me in a sort a graceful but highly inappropriate way.

"As I did so the room spun round and within seconds I was down on the floor again."

After an interval the audience had not bargained for, an understudy took over while Sally was taken to hospital without a final curtain call.

The actress made a change from the usual fare of football injuries, black eyes and drunks for the casualty team at Hereford County Hospital.

"It seems that falling off a stage is not a common accident for a casualty department - I can't think why! Anyway, I was glad to have given them a chuckle on a Saturday evening," added Sally.

The mother-of-five from Mitcheldean now faces several weeks on crutches at best. An initial assessment indicates damaged cartilage and torn knee ligaments with a future scan needed.

Sally is hopeful that she may return to action before the end of the tour in six weeks but might need the help of a pantomime fairy godmother if she is to make it.