It’s a grand tribute to a comedy giant.
A new book, entitled Absent Friends: A Tribute To Sir Ken Dodd is a collection of humorous and heartfelt stories, poetry, photographs and artwork dedicated to the legendary Master of Mirth, who died in March – and where better to launch it than Blackpool, where he performed practically annually for more than 60 years?
The book has been compiled by long-time Doddy fan Mike Bartram, has been edited by Sir Ken’s widow Lady Anne and features an introduction by Shaun Gorringe, house manager of Blackpool’s Grand Theatre, where the comedy maestro graced the stage on so many occasions.
“I initially sent in my contribution as a general one to be considered for use among all the others,” said Shaun.
“But Mike and Lady Anne said they wanted it as the introduction and that was a real honour.
“I first saw Ken as a 10-year-old and after I got he job at the Grand, I was privileged to meet him on several occasions.
“To contribute the introduction is a tremendous honour and it is a very special book, which we feel is unique in its format.”
The book was launched at the monthly coffee morning of the Friends of the Grand at St Stephen’s-on-the-Cliffs Church in Bispham on what would have been Sir Ken’s 91st birthday.
St Stephen’s was suggested by Shaun as the venue and considered ideal as it contains the actor’s chapel, where a wreath was laid for Sir Ken by Canon Andrew Sage, vicar at the church and theatre chaplain to the Grand.
Proceeds from the book will go to the Children’s Air Ambulance and The Liverpool Whitechapel Centre for the homeless in Liverpool.
Mike said: “After writing a few poems dedicated to Ken after he passed away, the idea of a tribute book came about and I invited other fans to donate their contributions.
“It quickly grew from there and I really enjoyed going through all the submissions, I hope Sir Ken’s family, friends and fans enjoy it too.
“Blackpool was like a ‘second home’ to Sir Ken, so it was a very fitting venue for the book launch.”