A new film chronicling a year of big news stories in Morecambe is due to be released.
But just as filmmaker Chris Abram was putting the finishing touches to ‘2014: An Eventful Year for Morecambe’ he received some shattering news of his own.
Chris was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer of the lung, which doctors have told him is incurable.
But the 73-year-old from Carnforth is determined to face the disease head-on as he prepares for a premiere of his film - which he says could turn out to be his last.
Chris has spent the last 10 years making heritage films of the Lancaster and Morecambe district for DVD, spending hours capturing the landscapes, people and buildings of the area.
His latest work follows Morecambe through 12 months of significant events.
The year 2014 saw the vandalism and return of the Eric Morecambe Statue, the comeback of the Morecambe Carnival, storms ravage the Prom, the Megazone fire, events to mark the 10th anniversary of the Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy, and crowds flock to the Vintage-by-the-Sea festival. With help from fellow film buffs at Morecambe Bay Movie Makers, Chris went out and shot dramatic scenes of all of these happenings.
He also gained exclusive to-camera interviews with Vintage festival promoter Wayne Hemingway, carnival organiser David Brayshaw, Eric Morecambe’s family and Eric statue sculptor Graham Ibbeson.
Chris also went down to London to film the statue being restored at AB Foundry after it was vandalised.
The result is an impressive documentary which Chris says, was down to “being in the right place at the right time”.
“It’s been a privilege,” he said.
“At the end of 2013 I thought there has been a rough ride for Morecambe for a few years but the indication was that 2014 was going to be a year of change. So I thought I would record as many events as I could. Maybe we would see the change. And that’s what happened. Morecambe has been in the shadow of Blackpool but it’s now beginning to turn slowly but surely.”
The film also shows Chris’ friend Cedric Robinson MBE, Queen’s Guide to the Sands, receiving the Freedom of the City of Lancaster.
Other events covered include the visit of the iconic Coca-Cola truck to the Festival Market, the formation of the Morecambe Heritage group (of which Chris is a member) and the Kite Festival.
Chris hopes it will be preserved in the North West Film Archive so future generations can look back on 2014 as a historic year.
But he says he feels “disheartened” that his work in the Morecambe Bay area has never received any council grants or official recognition.
“My films bring the heritage and beauty of this area to the public,” he said.
“I do all this promotion for the area, I’ve done eight videos saying nice things about the Lune Valley and Morecambe Bay, I’ve spent over £50,000, my life savings, making my films, and I’m not appreciated.” But he feels much more positive about the health battle that lies ahead.
“Since I found out I have the cancer, my outlook on life has changed,” he said.
“I’m spending more time with my wife Muriel, my children and grandchildren because I feel like I’ve neglected them, making films. I’ve spent hours and hours downstairs in my studio. So many people are frightened of cancer.
“But I was in the Forces and I’ve faced men trying to kill me with rifles, and I survived a quadruple heart bypass in 2011, so my attitude is, you can’t do anything about it.
“The first few days after I was diagnosed, I thought I was going to die in weeks. I started stripping down my studio in my house. But then I realised, nobody else is going to fight it.
“I’ve got to face up to the treatment and be positive. If I wasn’t getting the treatment, I’d be dead in months. I don’t know how long I’ve got. It’s not going to be imminent. I could go on for years. But it’s not going to get better. They can’t cure it.
“But I’m not going to let it stop me doing things.”
And it certainly won’t stop charismatic Chris from hosting a live debut screening of his film at the Platform in Morecambe on Tuesday, April 14. The event starts at 7.30pm.
Tickets are now on sale, priced £10, at Morecambe Visitor Information Centre or call 01524 582803.