Director bows out as group celebrates two awards

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A prominent drama group has scooped two prizes at the National Operatic and Dramatic Society awards.

Alnwick Theatre Club received praise for its recent production of Brassed Off, which was staged at the Alnwick Playhouse earlier this year.

Young Liam Cooke, who took the role of Shane, received the Best Under-18 In A Lead award from the society.

The 14-year-old’s depiction of the troubled youngster was described as “perfection with superb boyish comedy timing” by the body in its review.

The group also received an award for the production as a whole, with it being described as “well executed, well cast, very innovative and superb entertainment”.

But with the good news comes some bad as the director who took the production to its success is moving away from the area.

David Richardson, along with his wife Wendy, will be moving to Yorkshire later this month to return closer to their family.

After spending more than 10 years in the community and becoming a prominent member of Morpeth Rotary Club, Mr Richardson will be saying farewell to Alnwick Theatre Club and Coquetdale Amateur Dramatics Society.

Mr Richardson, an experienced amateur director, produced six musical shows for Coquetdale Amateur Dramatic Society, two of which gained performance awards from a national dramatic organisation before the club returned to traditional pantomimes last year.

He was then invited to direct two hugely successful plays for Alnwick Theatre Club; Alan Ayckbourn’s Neighbourhood Watch and then Brassed Off this year.

As a way of marking their departure from Northumberland, the couple have organised a Last Night of the Proms concert. The event is raising much-needed funds for Rothbury Parish Church.

Making a reappearance will be the cast of Brassed Off, alongside the Ellington Colliery Band, which also starred in the production and made the show so iconic.

Mr Richardson said: “We are both sad to be leaving the area, but are hoping many friends and acquaintances will help us build on the success of the award-winning Brassed Off by supporting Ellington Colliery Band in our farewell venture.”

The band will play a varied selection of music, including some well-known arrangements from Brassed Off, and there will be a traditional finale, with audience participation and flag waving.

The Richardsons have played a prominent role in the area as members of Coquetdale Chamber Choir, Mid Northumberland Chorus and Alnwick Theatre Club.

As an experienced amateur actor in Whitby Musical Theatre Company, Mrs Richardson played major roles for many years and went on to take some leading parts in CADS productions, then for ATC in Calendar Girls, Neighbourhood Watch and Brassed Off.

She was secretary of Rothbury Parish Church Hall for several years and helped organise its refurbishment with new curtains and carpets, making it attractive and welcoming. She is church warden and a governor at Dr Thomlinson Middle School.

Mr Richardson has been a prominent member of Morpeth Rotary Club and introduced its first woman member, Rhona Dunn, during his term as president. Rhona was recently elected its first woman president.

The fund-raiser is at Rothbury All Saints Church on Saturday, October 3, at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Tickets are £15, £10 under 18s, which include a drink and canapes. Tickets are available at Rothbury Information Bureau or from Carol Milburn on 01669 622856.