Grand Theatre's Friends' chair resigns

John Buck resigns as chairman of Friends Of The Grand Theatre
John Buck resigns as chairman of Friends Of The Grand Theatre

One of the original volunteers who helped save Blackpool's Grand Theatre from demolition has resigned.

Chairman of the Friends Of The Grand John Buck has said he was unable to 'offer my all as chair' while recovering from a recent illness, and resigned from the position 'with regret'.

He said: "Being chair has been a large part of my life of which I have enjoyed every minute, in fact I’m already missing all of you.

"Carry on the good work."

John first became involved in the Grand, after reading in The Gazette about plans to demolish it to build a Littlewoods store.

"I was outraged," he said. "I’d got fed up of seeing theatres disappear and that’s how I first got involved with what became the Friends of The Grand and their campaign to save the theatre."

Along with other dedicated Friends, John helped clean, repair and paint the theatre, ready for its reopening and dedication from HRH The Prince of Wales in 1981.

He became chair in of the friends in 2002, after the death of the previous incumbent George Thomson.

Paying tribute to John's work, which involved securing the funds to buy the ground floor shops on Church Street in 2016. The shops form part of the theatre building but were not part of the Friends' purchase in 1981 - although securing their ownership became a key aim of the group, which then donated the deeds to the Grand Theatre Trust, which owns the building.

Chairman of the trust Roger Lloyd Jones said: "Being able to put the last piece of the Grand Theatre jigsaw in place with the purchase of the shops was really the icing on the cake for The Trust.

"I’d like to thank John, particularly, and all the Friends Of The Grand for making this dream come true.

"On a personal level, John is a lovely person and a much-loved gentleman and friend. Meeting him and the other hard-working band of volunteers always serve to make my visits to the theatre even more pleasurable."

Also paying tribute, chairmain of Blackpool Grand Theatre (Arts and Entertainment) Tony Stone said: "Had it not been for John, and the tireless band of dedicated volunteers, this theatre might have ceased to exist.

"Long may you continue to enjoy it and the shows it offers to the folk of Blackpool and the surrounding areas."

And theatre patron Amanda Thompson, Pleasure Beach managing director, added: "John has championed the Friends of the Grand for as long as I can remember.

"He has shown with passion and dedication that you truly can make a difference and raise the money that is needed to continuously support this wonderful theatre.

"He has dedicated his life to this cause and shown us all how special this lovely building is to our town and the community."