This is for all of Blackpool! Gay entrepreneur Basil Newby has dedicated his MBE in the New Year’s Honours list to the resort he has devoted 35 years of his life to.
Mr Newby, whose clubs include Flamingos and Funny Girls, was given the honour in recognition of services to business and for his contribution to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Blackpool.
He said: “When I first heard I was to receive an MBE, I felt very humbled.
“I was born in Blackpool and have spent all my life here, and I feel this is for Blackpool - not just for me.
“For the last couple of years, not just me, but all of us in Blackpool have gone through a bad time.
“So this is the cherry on the cake and makes it all worthwhile. It is tough for everyone trying to run a business, and I feel this is a reward for all of us.”
The announcement comes at the end of a difficult year for Mr Newby which has seen him battling cancer and having to fight to keep his Flamingo club open after its licence was reviewed in November.
Three weeks ago he got the all clear from doctors that he was clear of prostate cancer.
Now he is looking forward to a date with royalty to collect his honour next year.
He said: “I have gone through my own health problems in the last 12 months, and that brings things into perspective.
“I talked openly about my treatment for prostate cancer and I hoped I helped raise awareness among other men.
“Three weeks ago I got the all clear from my doctor so now I am hoping going into 2014, that it is going to be a good year.
“People can slag Blackpool off, and say what they like but for me Blackpool is special and there are lots of lovely people that I meet.”
Mr Newby is also pleased his award highlights his contribution to the gay community.
He said: “When I first bought the Flamingo, my solicitor warned me I would be considered an improper person to hold a licence at that time because I was gay.
“I feel now, especially with Funny Girls, we have helped break down barriers. Funny Girls is now a national treasure.”
Mr Newby, who lives in Singleton, built up his empire after opening the Flamingo at the end of the 1970s in the top floor of a property since redeveloped to make way for the Talbot Gateway scheme,
The club relocated to its present home in the old Odeon building on Dickson Road, which is also home to Funny Girls and The Flying Handbag.
The Flamingo came under the spotlight in November when the police applied for its licence to be reviewed.
The venue was ordered to tighten up procedures but kept its 5am closing time following a town hall hearing.