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Volunteers pay tribute to Ken - their oldest supporter

Volunteers at the Millgate Arts Centre in Delph are mourning the loss of their oldest and longest standing supporter Ken Wright MBE who died recently, aged 93. 

Ken joined Saddleworth Players, later to become Millgate Arts Centre,  in 1965.  He was instrumental in the move from the old Mechanic’s Institute building into the current venue in the early 1970’s and took on the role of chairman and licensee in the early 1980’s.
Ian Shepherd,  the current chairman and licensee,  paid tribute to a remarkable man who had provided unwavering support for the group for nearly 60 years.

He said:” Ken was chairman when I joined over 40 years ago and undertook many roles.  He ran the bar, acted, directed, built sets, undertook building repairs, stage managed, worked front of house, did publicity, supported the youth group and served on pretty much every committee at some point. 

“His commitment and contribution to the success of the group cannot be understated.   On a personal note – it’s been an honour to follow in his footsteps and continue with the work moving this fantastic organisation forward. 

“Most importantly, Ken has always been there for me, offering help and advice whenever I needed it.  It was Ken that encouraged me to join the group, and later take on a management role.  He was a very good friend and huge inspiration, and his loss will leave a huge void”.
Ian’s predecessor Edwina Rigby added: “I was just 12 when I first appeared with Ken on stage.  I loved him like a father and often looked to him for advice”.  

Another previous chairperson, Tricia Kenworthy, added: “Following Ken as chairman wasn’t easy, but I followed his excellent example.  He was a dedicated and passionate member.  I had fun acting with him and confidence that, on stage everything would run smoothly and successfully”
And there have been many other tributes paid by people, often younger members,  who have been encouraged and inspired by Ken’s infectious enthusiasm for the group. 

Luke Settle, current bar manager,  said “When I decided the stage wasn’t for me, Ken was one of the key characters that got me hooked on the backstage way of life.  He’s been such a big influence for my experience of theatre”.
Ken, pictured with his wife Ann,  was awarded an MBE for services to the community in 2011. 

He was also heavily involved with various other groups around Saddleworth and beyond, as well as Meals On Wheels, and the Huddersfield Canal Society.  He also served as a board member of Oldham Coliseum Theatre.
Ken who lived in Dobcross, leaves his wife Ann, and their children Simon, Philippa and Sarah.   Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.

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