With a song in her heart

Pat Hughes as been with the Spotlight Theatre for many years'NBFP PA1319-4b
Pat Hughes as been with the Spotlight Theatre for many years'NBFP PA1319-4b

This time round she was cast as Aunt Elly, one of the more senior characters. But back in 1975 the society was also staging Oklahoma, and 38 years ago soprano Pat Hughes was the leading lady.

Now a lively and smiling 72, you could be forgiven for presuming that the theatre was in Pat’s blood, so naturally does she take to the limelight.

But in fact she was the first member of her family to go on stage – although certainly not the last.

Pat grew up in Blackpool, and as a child loved singing and dancing.

She joined the Children’s Ballet, which performed in the spectacular Tower Ballroom.

“We had to be licenced to perform,” said Pat, “And we got paid.

“Not very much, because we were children, but it was quite something!”

A highlight of her years in the Children’s Ballet was dancing – in a routine involving skipping ropes – at Blackpool’s Opera House.

“It was a Royal Command Performance, and in the audience was Queen Elizabeth II.

After spending some time in Manchester Pat moved with her husband and two young sons to Bridlington in the 1960s, and her daughter was born here.

Pat joined the Operatic Society in 1969 and her first part was in the chorus of My Fair Lady, aged 28.

Since then Pat has been in more performances than she can count, both leading roles and smaller parts.

She said: “You’re lucky as an amateur, because you get the chance to have lots of good parts.

“If you were a professional, you might hardly ever get a leading role, but as an amateur, there are more opportunities.

“It’s given me a lot of pleasure and kept me going – especially when I lost my husband 16 years ago.

“He was ill for a long time but he always kept cheerful, despite 17 heart attacks.”

And now Pat often shares the stage with family members.

By the time the company performed the Wizard of Oz at the Spa about ten years ago, there were more than 10 members of her family in the cast, including daughter Samantha and granddaughter Jodie, who played the Judy Garland role of Dorothy.

Pat is keen to stress that the company is always looking for new members.

She said: “If teenagers come along, they often leave to go to college or move away, but we could really do with some more younger members, especially people in their thirties or so.

“Most of us are getting on a bit! And there are lots of things to do – not just singing and acting but helping with costumes, scenery, even teas and coffees.

“It’s a great way to make friends. It’s given me so much pleasure over the years.”

Pat is hoping that there might be a role for her in this year’s summer show, too, but there is one thing she draws the line at.

There are plans for a future production of Calendar Girls.

“No,” she said. “I won’t be stripping off!”