Tributes to a well loved panto and stage legend
Tributes have been paid to a popular amateur actor who had amused many in his stage performances.
John Sangster, who had been a member of several theatre groups around the North West, died suddenly whilst fruit picking in the garden at his Leyland home on Thursday afternoon.
The 65-year-old had been married to his wife, Hilary, for 40 years and they had one son, Marshall.One of their hobbies was making jam using fruit from their garden, which they sold to raise money for various charities, including RNLI, St Ambrose Church and Preston Opera.
Marshall said: “Dad was a devoted husband to Hilary, father to myself, and friend to all. “He was a man of many varied and incredibly talents. He is well remembered as a much loved character on stage, his infectious personality lighting every room.“He was a delightful gentleman who has given so much pleasure in his life. We will miss him deeply.“We wish a special thanks for the emergency services who attended. They showed great professionalism, dignity at a very difficult time.”
John’s main association was with St Ambrose Players, in Leyland, with his first show being The King and I back in 1986.Publicity officer Sarah White said: “As a society we are mourning the loss of an invaluable part of our team both on stage and off, but most importantly we are mourning the loss of a very dear friend who will be very much missed by us all. “John was generous, warm hearted and very funny. He was an incredibly talented actor and singer who threw himself into every role and brought so much joy to so many. We all feel privileged to have known him. “He will be remembered for all the laughter and the fun he brought not only to our stage, but also to various other amateur stages across the area.
“John was an enigma and our stage will be a much darker place without him, but we take comfort in knowing that he touched so many people with his kindness, generosity, humour and wonderful performances.
“John had just been cast as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, and no doubt he would have been wonderful. Sadly the show must go on but we will be dedicating the pantomime to John’s memory and we hope to do him proud.“His performances in pantomime, from dame to villain and hero to comedic roles, were always unique and very well received.”
Preston Musical Comedy also posted a tribute on its website, as John was to appear in Guys and Dolls this week as Lieutenant Brannigan.
A spokesman said: “The whole society shares this loss as John was to perform with us in Guys and Dolls and we were excited to have him on board. “Some members had known John for a long time and others came to this show fresh to his skills and character. “He was an incredible talent to watch and to work with and was encouraging to every member of the cast – over the last four months we all loved our time with him. “He was funny and performed with a twinkle in his eye – he was a true gentleman. Our cast and crew have been shocked by the news and next week will not be easy but we will dedicate the show to the memory of such a special man.”
John, a former computer engineer, had also performed with Chorley Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society (CADOS)
Ian Robinson, spokesman for the group, said: “John is much missed. He was always in demand. Whenever we had a certain role, his name would come up but he would always be working with another group. The last play he did for us was Harvey around five years ago. He played a man who saw an imaginary rabbit and he really got across the innocence of this guy taking to an imaginary rabbit on stage.”
John’s funeral will take place on Tuesday September 20 at St Ambrose church at 12.30pm. Family flowers only, with donations to Kippford RNLI and Preston Opera Society.