Pavilion Theatre saved from decay
Memories of being on stage
Two features in a recent Gazette sent me meandering down a theatrical memory lane.
First was the exciting news the much loved Winter Gardens Pavilion is to be saved from further decay by turning it into a museum, with all the pleasures this conjures up.
The news set me on a nostalgic journey back to 1970, when I made my final appearance on the Pavilion’s stage in a performance of Portrait in Black, by top amateur group The Green Room Players.
For an amateur company this was an exceptional honour, as we had played the Grand Theatre for full weeks on many occasions.
And, in fact, had done so with the same play only eight weeks before our Christmas engagement at the Winter Gardens.
At the time, we were the envy of most other local drama groups.
Which brings me to the other feature in the same Gazette issue as the museum announcement, when there was an article tracing the progress of another local amateur group, The Windmill Players.
They, I understand it, were launched in 1946. Just a year before the late Wilson Barnes started The Green Room Players. I couldn’t but admire their success, chiefly due to the efforts for 40 years of Bill Croker.
As they are obviously a very talented team, and still very active, how nice it would be if they could have an opportunity to play at that little gem of the Fylde coast, the Grand Theatre.
I still recall what a joy it was to play in this professional theatre on many occasions after the GRPs had cut their theatrical teeth in such venues as the Jubilee Theatre, St Annes Pier Pavilion and even Squires Gate Holiday Camp Theatre! Not to mention all the drama festivals up and down the country, where they were successful on many occasions.
Events vital to fill arts gap
Blackpool Council faces a very tough challenge in making savings of £25m a year with ruthless austerity budget cuts.
Regardless of who is in political power after the next election, the simple truth is, the decision makers face stark challenges ahead.
I feel deeply sorry for those who face uncertainty with their jobs.
Blackpool is a town, like several former prosperous seaside towns, which have fallen on hard times.
Although the resort has received some impressive regeneration, it arrived very late, and in some ways the town fell behind the times by almost a generation.
How can Blackpool reach out to a wider market and improve its image? This is not an easy task, and will take several years to achieve.
During these testing times, most councils are forced to drastically reduce arts funding, due to the unavoidable cuts to save guard essential front line services.
Therefore, events such as The Blackpool Jazz and Blues Festival, planned for July 3-5, and wholly funded by private investment and volunteers, are vital.
This free event will prove fruitful to the town and help attract a wider range of visitor to return year-on-year.
Jazz and heritage may be considered by some as ‘old hat’.
As an optimist, I would say to those pessimists that Blackpool can build a better future by respecting its past.
Are we the people of the Fylde going to put up with not having a passenger airline operating from our airport?
Let’s all get together and find out more about financing the airport.
Make it the people’s airport. Get us a sensible airline which will not only service Europe, but all airfields in the UK, and holiday airports in the south.
Let us the people say what we want from an airline.
Vernon A Johnson
Former HM Inspector of Transport
Help for working animals
I am writing to ask readers who like to knit to support a new fund-raising campaign by the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) – the ‘Big Knit for Vet Kit’ campaign will run in February and March.
SPANA is a charity that provides free veterinary treatment to sick and injured working animals in developing countries across the world.
We are calling on knitters to make Duncan the donkey, Hattie the horse, Oscar the ox or Clarence the camel and get sponsored while they stitch.
The free knitting patterns can be ordered from www.spana.org/knit, or by calling 020 7831 3999.
Working animals do the jobs of tractors, trucks and taxis throughout the developing world, and are relied upon by many of the world’s poorest people for their livelihoods, and sometimes their survival.
However, without SPANA, there would be no veterinary treatment available for so many of these animals.
SPANA’s work is only possible thanks to the generous donations we receive from the public, and we hope your readers will support this campaign.
Chief executive at SPANA