Dan’s the new man at Morecambe Winter Gardens

Outgoing chairman of the Friends of the Winter Gardens, Evelyn Archer, with new chairman Dan Horton.
Outgoing chairman of the Friends of the Winter Gardens, Evelyn Archer, with new chairman Dan Horton.

A new face has taken over as head of a volunteers group who are about to celebrate 30 years of helping to keep Morecambe’s famous old theatre in the spotlight.

Dan Horton is the new chairman of the Friends of the Winter Gardens.

Dan, 36, takes over from long-serving chairman Evelyn Archer who has stepped down from the role.

Evelyn will remain as chairman of the Winter Gardens Preservation Trust, owners of the 119 year-old building.

“For 30 years I have been chair of the Friends, in that 30 years I hope I have contributed something to the reopening of the theatre,” wrote Evelyn in the latest Friends newsletter.

“But it is now time for me to retire and hand over to a younger person.

“Looking back over 30 years, we have had many obstacles to overcome but I feel that we have come through them thanks to our dedicated group of volunteers.

“Things are now starting to move on in a positive way.”

Originally from Worcestershire, Dan has been a member of the Friends for seven years.

He is a qualified nurse and works for Trust Medical private ambulance firm in Morecambe.

“Evelyn is getting busier doing her work for the trust and that is a demanding role,” said Dan.

“So it was a pleasure to be asked to take over as chairman of the Friends. The future excites me. I feel very passionate about theatre. I fell in love with the Winter Gardens the first time I saw it and it is my favourite place to be.”

The Friends was formed in 1986 by Mrs Archer and a group of like-minded people who wanted to see the theatre, closed in 1977, restored to its former glory.

Over the years the Friends have raised money for repairs and to gradually improve the theatre and bring it back into use.

This year the Winter Gardens is putting on more live shows than at any time since its heyday.

They will celebrate the Friends’ 30th anniversary with a variety show on Saturday, May 28 starting at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £10 or £5 for Friends members.

The bill includes music from The JJohns, Boogie Bill Roberts and The Billionaires, Ryan Wallace, Harri Deane, opera singer Jayne Woolan, and Michael Dyer and Francis, as well as Tracey Austin’s Dance Factory and Linda Wilson’s Dance Design.

A second free anniversary event with live music and tours of the building will be held on Sunday between 11am and 4pm. There will be music from Ceilia, formerly of UB40, and The Bootstraps.