Performers unpaid as Christmas events firm goes into liquidation

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Performers hired to play Christmas characters in grottos around the UK have been left hundreds of pounds out of pocket, after the events management company they worked for collapsed.

Melbry Events specialised in creating Christmas grottos for shopping centres and department stores, and hired performers to play Santa and elves as part of its activities.

However, the company’s director Melanie Hurley has written to performers to inform them that the organisation has ceased trading and has instructed restructuring firm FRP Advisory Ltd to “assist in placing the company into creditors’ voluntary liquidation”.

It is not known how many performers have been affected but one who has been left out of pocket is Clive Hurst, who played Santa in December for the firm. He said he is owed more than £300. He said: “I would like to see all venues and major shopping centres using these promotions companies to post an insurance bond that guarantees payment to performers if they go bust.”

He also called on Equity to introduce measures that provide “safeguards for variety members”. Equity said it had been approached by one member, who has made a claim through the union, but declined to comment any further.

A spokesman for FRP Advisory said it had been “instructed by the director to assist in placing the company into creditors’ voluntary liquidation with the liquidation taking place on February 25, 2013”.

According to Companies House, Hurley was appointed director of Melbry Events in 2004. She is also listed as the director of two other companies – Rocket Entertainments Ltd and Wish4ticket Ltd – and as being connected with six other companies that have all previously been dissolved.