STOURBRIDGE salsa gran Paddy Jones has added her support to the fight to save a threatened borough theatre.
Dudley Hippodrome has been earmarked for demolition by Dudley Council as part of the ongoing multi-million pound regeneration of Castle Hill – with the area set to be used as a temporary car park for Dudley Zoo.
But campaigners hope to save the old council-owned building, which is bigger than Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre, and have submitted a 28-page bid to retain, refurbish and open it as a community venue, which would be run as a social enterprise if given the go-ahead.
A host of famous names have already added their support to the campaign to save the former theatre from demolition - including Dudley-born comic Lenny Henry and the daughter of silent movie star Stan Laurel - Lois Laurel Hawes.
Stourbridge salsa gran Paddy Jones, who grabbed worldwide fame after winning the Spanish version of Britain’s Got Talent with young dance partner Nicko Espinosa, has also called for the theatre where she made her professional stage debut to be preserved.
Paddy, aged 78, starred in Jack and the Beanstalk there at the tender age of 12 and has fond memories of the old theatre which in its heyday played host to stars including George Formby, Laurel and Hardy and Bob Hope.
She said: “My friend and I went from our dance school and did three months there - it was absolutely lovely. We opened on Christmas Eve and went up until the middle of March and it was there that I met Gracie Fields.
“It would be a shame to see it go. They had fantastic shows there at one time.”
The dynamic great grandmother, who revived the dance career of her youth a few years ago when she moved to Spain, added: “I’m all for it being saved. It would be nice to keep it - it really would.”
Councillor Shaukat Ali, Dudley’s cabinet member for regeneration, said the proposal to save the theatre submitted by the Friends group was being looked at by an independent expert and he added: “Once we have feedback on the proposal we will be speaking to the group."
To find out more about the Friends of Dudley Hippodrome contact chairman Geoff Fitzpatrick on 07875 901369 or email firstname.lastname@example.org