Octagon bar worker calls time after 40 years

Anne Whaite with the Octagon staff

Anne Whaite shows off her cake

First published in News

FOR many people, 40 years of dedicated service would be no mean feat.

But for Anne Whaite, the achievement is even more special as she has spent the time working behind the Octagon Theatre’s bar with her husband.

James started working there in September 1973 and, before the year was out, Mrs Whaite had joined him as a bar assistant.

But now the 62-year-old has served her final drink at the theatre, where she has witnessed many changes and served a host of famous faces over the past four decades.

The pair have welcomed royal visitors including Prince Charles and Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and stars such as Sue Johnston, Christopher Eccleston, Matthew Kelly and his son Matt Rixon, Sue Devaney, Gorden Kaye, from ‘Allo ‘Allo, Colin Bean, from Dad’s Army, Robert Powell, who appeared in the film version of The Thirty Nine Steps and Anne Reid.

Mrs Whaite, of Hunger Hill, said: “We’ve seen the theatre evolve. There wasn’t even a studio when we started. The bar has evolved, this is the third one.

“Over 40 years, we’ve seen the changes and its progress, and hopefully it will keep on growing.”

Mr Whaite, also aged 62, added: “A lot of husbands and wives say they couldn’t work together but we’ve always done it.

“Before I ask or say, can you do something, it’s done.

“It’s just one of the things that I’m going to miss.

“Anne has ended up being the mother behind the bar. Especially for a lot of the young girls, if they have got a problem, Anne’s there. I know I will miss her.” Despite describing her colleagues as a family, Mrs Whaite decided now was the time to retire from the job and spend more time at home and at their caravan.

Mr and Mrs Whaite have been members of St Philips Amateur Operatic Dramatic Society for more than 40 years, which is where they first got to know each other.

The couple, who married in July 1973, describe the Octagon as their second home.

Mrs Whaite, who also works as a dinner lady at Beaumont Primary School, Ladybridge, said: “I’ll miss the camaraderie and we’ve had a social life out of it. I’ve really enjoyed my time here.”

In 1999, a financial crisis threatened to force the Octagon to cease producing its own plays and become a receiving house for touring shows.

The pair were part of a campaign to “Keep theatre made in Bolton” and were involved in successful events and fundraising galas.

Mrs Whaite added: “It will seem strange on a Friday night, not going out.

“It’s going to be a big change.

“I’ll still visit. They won’t get rid of me that easily.”

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