You know how sometimes you’re lucky enough to meet and work with people who are a real inspiration?
For the past eight years at the Kings Theatre, I’ve had a great colleague by the name of Sandra Smith. This lovely lady has been working in PR at the Southsea theatre for more than 30 years.
She started her theatrical career in 1984 with the pantomime Mother Goose, starring Bill Maynard, and over the years she has looked after hundreds of actors and actresses who have trodden the boards at the beautiful Edwardian Kings.
So I was very sad to find out that Sandra has decided to retire.
She has worked tirelessly and with such passion and dedication to the Kings.
In the early days she was also bringing up her two sons, who I’m sure have seen their fair share of pantos over the years!
In 1997, when the venue was going through hard times, Sandra was made redundant and went to work at Portsmouth Football Club for three years before returning to the theatre in 2000. She’s been there ever since.
Over the past eight years Sandra has been a work pal, but has also become a very dear friend.
Her passion for the arts and the Kings is infectious and has rubbed off on me. She is someone who I greatly admire and who has inspired me. Indeed, without her support I would not be writing for The News – something I feel very proud and privileged to be doing .
You see, it was Sandra who encouraged me to enter a competition to become a News columnist.
Sandra also gave me the opportunity to be in Cinderella in 2008, which was a fantastic and memorable experience and something I will always cherish.
In 2013 Sandra won the Woman In The Arts category in The News Woman of the Year awards and recently this dynamic bundle of energy took part in the 22-day, 22 push-up challenge to raise awareness of suicide among armed forces veterans. She even roped me in to take part.
Sandra, I wish you a very happy retirement. The Kings won’t be quite the same without you.
NO MOANING FROM ME ABOUT REPLACEMENT BUS SERVICES
While most people groan and complain when train services are cut and bus replacements are provided, I love it.
Recently I had a hair appointment in Portsmouth and found to my delight that an old- fashioned double-decker was collecting passengers at Fareham station.
Brilliant! I scrambled aboard, racing up to the top deck like an excited child because I wanted to grab the front seat.
The views of the city as we trundled along were amazing and I hummed along to some classic Seventies tunes being played.
Yes, the journey took longer than it would have done by train.
But my heart was full of joy as I knew that I’d also have a return adventure to savour later on.
I WAS ABSOLUTELY BOWLED OVER BY THE FESTIVAL OF CHRISTMAS
A huge pat on the back for the organisers of this year’s Victorian Festival of Christmas at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.
It was the first time I’d been and I was absolutely bowled over by it.
Walking through the snow-covered Dickensian streets, I was greeted and entertained by some wonderful performers from Groundlings theatre.
It was especially lovely to bump into an old friend, autograph hunter Dave, who I normally see outside the stage door at the Kings Theatre in Southsea.
At the festival he gave a very realistic performance as a Victorian undertaker.
I was also impressed by the low prices of everything.
I thought it was exceptionally good value, making it very family-friendly. All in all, a brilliant day out.