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Theatre programmes tell a romantic tale about couple

Ashton shop manager Alex Garden with some of the theatre programmes donated to the St Catherine's Hospice book store.

Ashton shop manager Alex Garden with some of the theatre programmes donated to the St Catherine's Hospice book store.

A haul of theatre programmes lovingly collected by a cultured Preston couple over 50 years has been donated to a charity book shop.

The collection, which includes a programme for the opera La Boheme on March 23 1940, includes a memento from a show the couple, Elsie and Richard Smith, went to see on their wedding day.

This special programme is from The Moon is Down at the Grand Theatre Blackpool on April 10 1943, and is marked with a note about their big day.

The programmes are for shows in Preston, London, Bristol and Blackpool from the 1940s to 1980s and were handed in to the St Catherine’s Hospice bookshop in Wellington Road, Ashton.

They are being sold to raise funds for St Catherine’s but the hospice is keen to reunite the wedding day programme with any surviving family.

Alex Garden, volunteer shop manager, said: “The programmes show Elsie and Richard travelled a lot to see shows of all different kinds, even going down to London during the war to watch plays, ballets and operas. We wonder if Richard potentially had a role in the war effort that took him regularly to London and allowed Elsie to go with him. Travelling at that time was difficult and of course London was going through the Blitz, so it does seem rather unusual.

“It has been fascinating to see this little window on their lives, especially the hand-written notes found on some of the programmes. It would be wonderful to reunite the wedding day programme with any of Elsie or Richard’s family as it’s a lovely memento of a very special day.”

It is thought Richard and Elsie, whose maiden name was Burton, lived in Lancashire until the 1950s, before moving to Bristol.

 

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