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Gardening legend’s Korean jeans take centre stage

Alan Titchmarsh and Richard Bradley

Alan Titchmarsh entertained a ‘full house’ at the Kings Hall, Ilkley on Tuesday, hosting an evening and donating his fee to the charity, The Friend of King’s Hall & Winter Garden.


Geoffrey Mogridge was in the audience and reviews the evening for Ilkley Chat:


Gardening guru, chat show host, best selling novelist, broadcaster, teacher, raconteur, actor, singer, dancer, poet. On the evidence of last Tuesday’s sold-out King’s Hall, to that long list should be added stand-up comic.


The stage was comfortably furnished with a leather armchair, a small table, luxuriant potted palms and ferns for the return of Ilkley’s favourite son. Alan Titchmarsh is currently the most famous gardener on the planet. The still youthful 74-year old  picked up a pair of neatly folded blue jeans from the table and held them aloft. A gesture of defiance perhaps aimed at the North Korean dictator. Kim Jong Un recently decreed that images of the gardening celebrity wearing “western imperialist” jeans must be blurred below the waist.


Born at St Winifred’s on the edge of Ilkla Moor, Alan’s education included Ilkley Junior School and Ben Rhydding Secondary Modern School. His love of singing can be traced back to Ilkley All Saints Parish Church Choir and Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society. Alan first trod the boards on this very stage as a dancer and chorus member in the Society’s 1967 production of Oklahoma. For several productions in those early years, Alan created a beautiful model of the proposed scenic design.


On meeting our late Queen Elizabeth: “Mr Titchmarsh Your onions are small” before adding for Alan’s comfort, “I myself prefer them that way - so much more flavour.”


Alan accepted an invitation to address the 25 members of Sandringham Women’s Institute. On arrival he was surprised to see the Queen was there. The WI chairman told him not to worry. “It’s nothing, we see her all the time.”  At the end, Her Majesty thanked him, saying: “This evening Mr Titchmarsh, you have given pleasure to many women.”


When being introduced to the All England Tennis Lawn Tennis Club as a guest speaker from Yorkshire: “People coming south are like haemorrhoids. “If they go back up, no problem. But if they stay down, that means trouble ahead.”


Alan ended in a reflective mood with his lovely poem, Why Does the Willow Weep? He then exhorted the delighted audience “to do their bit for Ilkley’s beautiful King’s Hall and Winter Garden.”


The event was promoted by the Friends of King’s Hall & Winter Garden charity to raise funds for the venue. Richard Bradley, Chairman of the Friends said: “We are deeply grateful to Alan Titchmarsh for donating his fee towards our fundraising campaign.”


“Thanks to Alan’s generosity, I am confident that we will reach our target of £7,000 for this promotion. We are also grateful to Moss and Moor for the loan of such beautiful plants to adorn our stage.”  


The Friends of King’s Hall & Winter Garden work with Bradford Theatres, the building’s owner, to help fund projects to improve the visitor and user experience.  This has included refurbishing the boxes and balcony, improve the dressing room area under the stage and funding for a new state of the art laser projector.


Richards adds: “We're asking anyone who is able to pledge £2 a month to our charity, 100% will be spent on improving the range and quality of facilities within the venue, used by many local groups and organisations.


“Please visit our website: friendskhandwg.ilkley.org” 

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