Posted August 7th, 2016

Edward & Fiona

It was a true pleasure for more than eighty Friends to welcome Fiona Castle OBE – widow of the great entertainer Roy – to the Cumberland Hotel on a warm  August Sunday afternoon to hear her reminiscences about her life: as a young dancer, during her thirty-year marriage and during the twenty plus years since her husband’s premature death from lung cancer.

Born in the Wirral in Cheshire, it was Fiona’s burning desire to become a ballerina – not the future planned for her by her GP father!  At the age of nine she came south to a ballet and theatre arts school in Camberley where she was to meet her life-time friend Olivia Breeze: they were to appear in their first pantomime together in 1956 and have remained friends ever since.

Olivia and Fiona 2

Fiona enjoyed a successful career on stage before marrying Roy Castle and giving up her own professional ambitions to raise their four children.  She shared so many of her memories – the friendships with Eric Morecambe (who is reported to have introduced her to her husband!) and Harry Secombe  amongst others.

In the modest style of the lady – what was not mentioned was her incredible charity works – for which she was awarded the OBE in 2004!

 

Don’t forget to get your tickets for Sunday’s Swing Session at the Congress Theatre!

Sadly, this year the 17-piece orchestra will be without their founder and leader, Paul Davis, who lost his battle against cancer and died at his home last week.  The Friends are immensely proud to have been able to sponsor this concert throughout its fourteen year history and, of course, have benefitted hugely from the proceeds which have swelled the coffers for expenditure in the Devonshire Park Theatre.

Paul was passionate about this event and during the last weeks of his life made sure that arrangements were in place to enable this concert to go ahead without him.  It will be a fitting and lasting memorial to this talented, popular and much-loved local band leader.    As our former Chairman, Harry Lederman, is reported as saying, “Paul was a very talented musician, excelling at the piano and trombone as well as arranging all the music for the concerts.  He was also a perfect gentleman who was loved and respected by all who knew him.”

Paul and his wife of twenty-nine years, Jacquie Toye, were staunch supporters of the Friends – not only through these Big Band concerts, but Paul’s Trio performed at lunches and our planned event in July when Paul and Jacquie were to share reminiscences of their lives in show business was a sell-out.  Sadly, we will never have a chance to hear these tales!

Paul Davis Trio

The Paul Davis Trio performing for The Friends at the Langham Hotel in April 2015

Detail from wall of photographs behind the trio: Paul & Jacquie

Detail from wall of photographs behind the trio: Paul & Jacquie

The Paul Davis Easybeat Orchestra does, however, live on and we will have the opportunity to hear them play at our Summer Fête on the Western Lawns on Saturday 20 August.

Tickets for the concert on Sunday  June 26 are available from the Box Office on 01323 412000 or on line from www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk and there is a £2 reduction for members of the FDPT.   Do come along to lend your support.