Theatre boss stages his final show

Amy Gray A popular theatre director and charity campaigner is retiring from his role after more than 40 years on stage and behind the scenes.

Amy Gray

A popular theatre director and charity campaigner is retiring from his role after more than 40 years on stage and behind the scenes.

Ray Wharton has been in theatre since he was 18, and 30 years ago he formed the Thurton and Bergh Apton Players. The annual shows at Bergh Apton Village Hall sell out before people even know what musical it will be.

He said: “I'm going to miss everyone but I want to go out on a high. Thirty years is a long time and I want to do other things. I've made lots of friends and have many wonderful memories.”

Mr Wharton combined his love for theatre with a full-time job, which he retired from five years ago. Although he has now retired from directing, he will continue with one-night performances and charity work.

Mr Wharton has been a big influence on the youngsters who have been part of the players throughout the years, and Simon Peck, who also met his wife through the group, even had him as best man at his wedding.

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He said: “Ray has brought joy and laughter to the performers and the audience. He's never happier than when he's sharing his sense of humour. I will miss Ray and so will everyone connected with the shows.”

Fellow member Lynton Johnson said he had known Mr Wharton for more years than he cared to remember. He said: “Ray's charity work often goes unnoticed but over the years he has raised a lot of money for charities and causes.”

Mr Wharton's last show as director, Summer Holiday, is on at Bergh Apton Village Hall until Saturday.