Fond farewell to Lancaster Footlights member

Lancaster Footlights group say farewell to Carl Hayhurst, seated second from right.
Lancaster Footlights group say farewell to Carl Hayhurst, seated second from right.

A long-serving amateur drama group member will be moving on to pastures new after 35 years of loyal service.

Members of Lancaster Footlights gave a resounding send off to Carl Hayhurst who will take up a new job in the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Carl has been an important contributor to the Footlights team, based at the Lancaster Grand Theatre, for more than 30 years – previously working at The Little Theatre in Morecambe.

The Footlights group met up for a farewell meal with members, including chairman Mike Hardy, reflecting on Carl’s prodigious acting and producing record, and his lesser seen roles behind the scene as archivist, board and production committee member.

“Carl will be missed by us all, but his contribution as a ‘Chelsea Pensioner’ will undoubtedly add to life in the hospital,” said Mike Hardy.

“The ‘comic theatre’ presentation of an ‘aspidistra’ for his room caused uproar, but the unwrapping of a silver topped cane proved the ideal gift for this old soldier!”

Local man Carl signed up as a soldier at the age of 16 and trained as a technical apprentice before joining the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).

He served in the far east, Germany and with the RAF at Biggin Hill as well as UK postings, and retired after 22 years service as a Warrant Officer.

Returning to the north west with his wife Chris, he worked in technical training posts and they both contributed to the thespian scene in the district.

Carl’s military background has, after screening and selection, led to him being offered a coveted place at Chelsea, an honour given to very few.

In thanking all in attendance, Carl reflected on the urgent need for new members to join Footlights in all roles; acting, directing, set building, wardrobe, light and sound and front of house.

The Grand has been a community theatre for more than 70 years and relies entirely on volunteer support.

With ambitious plans for a new entrance and auditorium to match its ever expanding programme, the group is appealing for those interested in joining to pop along to their coffee morning any Saturday between 10.30am-noon at the Grand to see how you can replace their retiring member.

Lancaster Footlights first started performing in the 1920s, and purchased the Grand Theatre in 1951.