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Young actor who died in crash inspires marathon run for popular youth theatre group

PUBLISHED: 12:38 06 April 2018 | UPDATED: 14:04 06 April 2018

Allister Maguire Buck. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Allister Maguire Buck. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Archant

A youth theatre group inspired by a young actor killed in a road crash is set to benefit from a pair’s half-marathon fundraising efforts.

Victoria Panton Bacon, who is running the Bungay Black Dog Marathon. Picture: SONYA DUNCANVictoria Panton Bacon, who is running the Bungay Black Dog Marathon. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Memories of Allister Maguire Buck are very much at the forefront of the minds of aspiring stars of stage and screen at Bungay’s Fisher Theatre as they prepare for their upcoming performance of the Wizard of Oz.

Allister shone while playing the part of the Wizard in the same play over a decade ago – but tragically died in a road crash four years ago.

The pain of his sudden departure is still deeply felt not only by his family but by those at the Fisher Theatre who remember him.

In gratitude to the Fisher Theatre for what it gave Allister, his family generously donated funds to provide bursaries to help families of children for whom acting at the Fisher might be prohibitive.

Bungay's Fisher Theatre. Picture: NICK BUTCHERBungay's Fisher Theatre. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

But the Fisher Youth Theatre Group still needs funds – so Victoria Panton Bacon, whose son Rollo attends the drama group, is planning to run this weekend’s Bungay Black Dog Marathon to raise money for the cause.

She is running her fifth marathon alongside Darren France, who runs the youth theatre group with his wife Laila and is also a trustee of the Fisher Thetare.

“Drama brings children from all backgrounds together in an equal arena,” Mr France said.

“It provides them with a giant playground in which they can lose their worries by being ‘somebody else’.

Runners taking part in the Bungay Black Dog Marathon 2017. Picture: ANTONY KELLYRunners taking part in the Bungay Black Dog Marathon 2017. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“There are no restrictions and the children have a wonderful time learning to dance, sing and act.

“But as important as these skills is the socialisation they learn, too, that helps them through so many aspects of life.”

Ms Panton Bacon added: “The Fisher Youth Theatre Group is a charity – it does not currently receive any external grants, so funds constantly need to be raised.

“This will be my fifth marathon, and Darren’s fourth. I have only completed this rather gruelling 26-mile circuit in London – I am told the Bungay ‘race’ is quite a bit tougher, so I am bracing myself for the undulations of the Suffolk hills that I hope won’t feel too much like Everest.

“However, I am glad to be taking part in this for the Fisher, so more children can have the opportunity to flourish because the unique skills and joys drama can give them. “My son Rollo is almost 11 years old. The Wizard of Oz will be his eighth consecutive play at the Fisher. Each one has been as enjoyable and rewarding as the last.

Rollo added: “I like acting at Fisher because not only does it provide a friendly environment in which to act, I have also made plenty of good friends.”

Remembering Allister’s contribution to the Fisher Theatre, Cathy Gill – who directed the Wizard of Oz in 2008 – said: “Allister was a lovely boy, very calm – he had a laconic air about him.

“He was very sweet in the characters he played, and he played the part of the Wizard wonderfully. He was a notably reliable and funny member of the group, in a gentle laid back sort of way.”

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