Earlier this month hoardings were erected outside The Courtyard signalling the start of work on the transformation of the arts centre.

Building contractors C J Bayliss moved onto the site, having established that they would be able to work within social distancing rules, and their first job was stripping out the box office.

“It’s all systems go,” says The Courtyard’s chief executive, Ian Archer. “They have secured the building and started digging up the patio area, dug the foundations for the new posts going in, and they’re ready to attach the steels to extend the mezzanine area and put in the new multi-purpose room above box office.

“We have raised the £1.4 million needed, and ring-fenced, for the project - £500,000 from Arts Council England, £150,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation, £75,000 from the Foyle Foundation, £30,000 from the Bernard Sunley Trust and £120,000 from individual giving in response to the Transform The Yard appeal. “

There is also a £611,000 loan available from Herefordshire Council, via a Prudential loan to be used for capital investment, which was allocated to the project a year ago.

“There was no better time to do it than now,” adds Mr Archer. “We were going to programme around the work, but it’s much easier without staff or the public in the building, and work is scheduled to be completed by the beginning of September. It’s very unlikely we would be able to open again before then anyway. We will assess it as we go.”

Looking forward, work is already underway on a script for this year’s panto.

He added: “We will have to adapt it according to whatever restrictions are placed on us, and it’s likely that we will have to have the schools performances in January rather than at the beginning of December.”

Whether this is possible is unclear, but there are ongoing discussions about alternatives.

One thing Ian Archer is certain of, though is that: “There will be no better way to come back than with panto.”