It’s almost 40 years ago since Basil Newby bravely took the plunge to take over and open The Flamingo Club on Talbot Road.
He expanded and transformed a disused warehouse into what became one of the most popular gay clubs in The UK.
In 1994 he opened ‘Funny Girls’ in Queen Street. By the year 2000, his company ‘In The Pink’ had an annual turnover in the region of £4m and they were successfully operating five venues in Blackpool.
Fast forward a few years, with the financial backing of Thwaites Brewery, he purchased the former Odeon Cinema on Dickson Road - relocating Funny Girls, The Flamingo Club and The Flying Hand Bag.
The year round operating overheads of such a large building was probably the start of a change in fortunes for In The Pink.
The liquidation of his current company Funny Girls Ltd last week is a stark reminder that during an age of changing markets the pendulum of success can swing in the opposite direction at any time for any business large or small.
With the benefit of hindsight many people would perhaps do things differently.
In his defence, he expanded his empire on the hopeful understanding that Blackpool was going to receive a super casino. Unfortunately in 2007 , Blackpool lost its bid for the casino licence and the huge investment it was going to bring.
The endearing quality about Mr Basil Newby, is that throughout his life he has stayed loyal to Blackpool.
Mr Newby’s endeavours 40 years ago bravely supported the LGBT community. This was in an age when there was no internet dating and there were very few places for gay people to meet and feel safe.
Over the years how many lives has his venues helped, especially those who have struggled to accept their sexuality in a provincial town?
Mr Newby was deservedly awarded an MBE for his services in 2014.
I very much hope he is able to now enjoy his deserved retirement and focus on looking after his health. Several years ago he suffered a cancer scare and underwent intensive treatment.
He chose to soldier on and support the town and his team of staff .
He is a living legend who deserves applause and recognition.
His legacy will live on for generations to come.
Step forward and take a bow Mr Basil Newby MBE.