There’s no business like Bare business

Chris Reed, new chair of the Bare Village Business Association.
Chris Reed, new chair of the Bare Village Business Association.

As part of a series celebrating Morecambe’s Finest, the personalities and unsung heroes who make our town great, reporter GREG LAMBERT speaks to Chris Reed, whose life of entertaining people has come full circle thanks to his new role.

Chris Reed came to Morecambe in 1969 for a summer season as a song-and-dance act on the Central Pier.

Forty five years later and Chris is still involved on the town’s entertainment scene.

The new chair of the Bare Village Business Association (BVBA) is gearing up for Barefest, Bare village’s annual day of fun, music, dance and civic pride.

Windermere-born Chris loved his time in Morecambe so much that he retired here after a lengthy career in showbiz, mainly as a theatre manager at venues all over the North West.

Names he’s worked with read like a who’s who of entertainment and include Sir Michael Parkinson, Ken Dodd, Matt Monro, Frankie Vaughan, Victoria Wood and the Manchester United football team.

Chris carved out his exciting career after being swayed by the “bright lights” of Morecambe during his teenage years.

“We would come here on Saturday nights, go to the Odeon and the bowling alley, have a few pints, bag of fish and chips and go home,,” he said.

“Morecambe was the place to be, back then.

“Then in 1968 I went to work in a bank. I hated it. I wanted to work in showbusiness.

“I came here for my first professional season, working the Ocean Rooms, where Frontierland later was, and the Central Pier. I did Monday-Saturday nights at the Ocean Rooms and Sunday night on the Pier, May to September.”

Chris later decided he wanted to work behind-the-scenes, becoming a director of panto and variety seasons in Manchester. Names he worked with included Morecambe entertainer Ronne Coyles, who appeared in more than 60 pantos in his career.

“Now there was a guy who could work an audience,” he said.

He later worked as director of entertainment for Bury and Rossendale councils, then retired to Bare, where he and wife Sue have immersed themselves in village life.

“We very much believe in the village and keeping the community spirit alive,” he said, while sipping a pint in his local, the Dog and Partridge on Bare Lane.

“There are a lot of over 55s who live in Bare and they enjoy shopping local, at the butcher, the baker and the chemist.”

As chair of the BVBA, Chris runs regular meetings for 46 village businesses who work together to promote Bare.

Bare is also working towards becoming the area’s first dementia-friendly village.

“It’s about training staff at the local businesses to recognise the signs when somebody comes in,” said Chris.

“My mother had it and it’s the most frightening thing.

Chris is also keeping his hand in with entertainment, running regular quiz nights in Bury and Garstang, and helping to organise Bare’s flagship festival, Barefest 2014 on Saturday, June 7.

“It’s not Morecambe Carnival, which I thought was brilliant, by the way.

“It’s a celebration of village life and the community we live in.”

Barefest begins with a mayoral procession through the village streets, followed by a ceremony in the Dog and Partridge car park.

Other activities on the day include live street music, a jazz band in the Owls Nest pub, arts and crafts stalls, a bouncy castle for kids, a Poppy Scatter in memory of the First World War dead, and a hog roast. Special guests will include David Morris MP and Susie Charles, mayor of Lancaster.

For more on Barefest see next week’s Visitor.