Reports – Beccles and Bungay Journal – Feb 1995
Pillars of the panto take a back seat.
Loddon’s 20 year pantomime tradition will not just end because two people are retiring.
This message came over loud and clear when Joan Evans and Derek Loyd gave emotional speeches from the stage at Loddon Lecture Hall after the last performance of this year’s panto Mother Goose, to announce their retirement as, respectively, producer and dame.
Mrs. Evans, who has been involved in some way with all 20 pantomimes and has produced many of them, told the Beccles and Bungay Journal:
“Two people leaving is not going to stop the Loddon pantomime.
“There is a lot of talent in the younger people we have got and neither Derek or I are exactly going to the North Pole
“I am still going to write the script and I don’t mind going down there to sweep the stage or help in some other way.”
Having shifted the responsibility of producing the pantomime, Mrs. Evans will be far from idle. As a teacher founder of the Loddon Singers and church worker, she has many interests in the community and looks forward to finding more time for painting and reading.
“I think it’s far better to stop now and remain available for help and advice,” she said. “There is so much talent there and so much good will.”
Mr Loyd will also remain involved as a backstage helper and trainer of future dames.
“I shall be part of the pantomime players in some form or another although I shan’t tread the boards any more,” he said.
Dame Derek departs
Formality and farce have for years combined in the two contrasting faces of Loddon musician Derek Loyd.
Each winter the studious figure of the organist at Holy Trinity Church is transformed into the colorful and well upholstered form of the pantomime dame.
But Mr. Loyd has climbed off the organ seat and into the dame’s garish greasepaint frocks and wigs for the last time.
His performance as Mother Goose was his swansong after 18 years as chief figure of fun with Loddon Pantomime Players.
Renowned for his apt ad-libs, Mr. Loyd, 68 who worked for Clays at Bungay for 21 years, is hanging up the dames costumes partly because life in retirement is too busy to afford the five months of twice-a-week rehearsals which each pantomime demands.
Having agreed to fill in as a temporary church organist 20 years ago, he now conducts the Loddon Singers.
He plays at Loddon Day Centre and accompanies the monthly Songs of Praise sessions at Chedgrave’s Beauchamp House, home for elderly people. He also plays squash once-a-week.
And he only just had time to pose for journal photographer Bill Darnell at Holy Trinity Church organ before rushing off to provide transport for the patient’s attending Loddon Surgery
Since he first got roped in to be an ugly sister 20 years ago, Mr. Loyd has missed only two Loddon pantos. His wife Dot has been a regular member of the front-of-house team.
“I have enjoyed every one of the shows I have been in and I shall miss it,” he said. “But you have got to make decisions sometimes. 18 years is a good record and the pantomime players will survive nobody is indispensable.
“There is a good group of people in Loddon now and there might be others who would like to play the dame. I am not a brilliant musician but I can get by and if I can help the youngsters in any way I will.