Everything like a Dame John hangs up his frocks as All Stars pay tribute

JOHN Butterworth really has lived up to the old adage there is nothing like a dame (writes Ken Bennett).That is because John has headlined in 51 productions, including show-stopping appearances as the pantomime Dame with St Chad’s All Stars based at Kiln Green, Diggle.

But after 28 years in front of the footlights John has decided to hang up his frocks.

To mark his farewell, friends and supporters gave him a memorable, grand finale at the end of the All Stars’ most recent production of the Wizard of Oz.

It included the presentation of a This Is Your All Stars Life book-researched and composed by Janet Iles.

Among the anecdotes was a touching tribute from Hannah Keeley, now a successful actress in America, who had appeared with John when she was a child and played ‘Annie.’

She wrote: “You may not know what you did for me when I was only 10 years old. You changed the course of my life forever.

“Because of you I realised what my calling in life was and today I am a professional actress of 10 years now living in America.

“Thank you for giving me my first big role as ‘Annie’ and the confidence to pursue a passion and talent that changed my life.

“You taught me my first proper stage craft, acting through song, tutored my American accent and your kindness and patience I have never forgotten.

“Your talent and commitment to this community has changed so many lives and I hope you enjoy a wonderful retirement.”

In the book’s introduction, Janet wrote: “This book has been created to thank you for the enormous contribution you have made to St Chad’s All Stars from its inception in the late 1980s.

“Over the years, you have written, acted, directed, advised, sung, danced and most especially been a wonderful Dame in so many shows.

“We hope you will enjoy the moments which have been captured here, and the messages from All Stars and others who wanted to add their good wishes for your retirement.

“Thank you for all the fun and laughter you have given to audiences at Kiln Green.”

St Chad’s All Stars was launched following a suggestion to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the founding of Kiln Green in 1833.

Mike Jones, secretary to the All Stars, said: “John directed 19 shows and wrote three of them. But it was his appearances as the Dame that has made him legendary.

“He has been the Dame 19 times with the All Stars as well as appearing in other guises for them and other societies.”

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