Farewell to theatre stalwart

Peter Watkins, much-loved member of the box office team at The Grand Theatre, who died in January

Peter Watkins, much-loved member of the box office team at The Grand Theatre, who died in January

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TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved and long-standing member of the The Grand Theatre’s box office team.

Peter Watkins died in hospital on January 21, after dedicating 17 years of his life to The Grand and its patrons.

Mark Bolton, his partner, said: “I first met Peter 15 years ago in Matcham’s Bar at the Grand Theatre.

“He was always so proud of this theatre and was motivated by his love of it.

“He loved the building, the atmosphere, the people, and was somewhat of a theatrical himself, having auditioned for the West End production of Les Miserables when he was younger.

“Peter became my partner, my soul mate and my best friend. Words cannot describe how much I will miss the wonderful gentleman that was Peter Watkins.”

Bosses at the theatre said Mr Watkins was an ever-smiling face, a friendly and good humoured individual.

Neil Thomson, general manager, said: “Peter’s passion for the theatre and particularly The Grand was second to none.

“He was a valued member of staff for 17 years and will be sadly missed by all at the theatre and his family.”

Grand Theatre archivists Geoff and Linda Tolson knew Mr Watkins – who turned 50 last year – from the day he first stepped through The Grand’s doors.

They said: “When Peter arrived at The Grand it had only recently been bought by the trust company and was desperate to establish itself as the home of live entertainment in Blackpool. Peter immediately endeared himself to those of us around at that time.

“His loyalty to The Grand was beyond compare and it was inevitable he should take up a position in the box office where he could inspire others with his charm and enthusiasm.”

Mary Stewart, box office manager, added: “Peter was the epitome of good customer service, and there will be many among our regular patrons who will miss a merry chat with him.

“He had a wide and eclectic knowledge of theatre – and a deep love for this particular theatre – which spurred him to help customers get the most out of their visit. We cared for him as a colleague and a friend and will remember him with affection.”