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Afternoon Tea with Sir Donald Sinden

The eagerly awaited visit from Sir Donald Sinden on October 9th lived up to expectations in every way. Immediately at ease, Sir Donald spoke for around 90 minutes, drawing on a wealth of recollections, anecdotes, and a few dodgy jokes. Among other things, we learned of his unintentional and somewhat reluctant introduction to the world of theatre, his extensive collection of "theatricalia",  and the problems of negative buoyancy.

After a break for tea,  he took to the stage once again, and spoke for another 45 minutes, taking a number of questions from the audience.
Throughout his visit, Sir Donald proved himself to be a most gracious guest, signing many autographs and posing for pictures, and was far too gracious to mention that it was actually his birthday. However, the significance of the day had not gone unnoticed, and a special birthday cake was produced, which Sir Donald was persuaded to cut.

This visit had, of course, been originally planned for September last year. Unfortunately that event was cancelled at short notice when Sir Donald fell ill. We were delighted, however, to see him in such good form, and everybody agreed that it was well worth the wait. 

Sir Donald looked most comfortable in a chair specially "nicked" from the local Methodist Chapel for the occasion. Occasionally appearing to forget what he planned to talk about, it really didn't matter ... with such a fund of experiences to draw on, there was always another story to move on to. In any case, some members of his audience had clearly followed his career with special interest, and were able to "prompt" him when necessary.

Seen above with cousin Aubrey (our former Chairman), the gruff look was for the camera, and certainly not for the cakes, in which he expressed great delight.

Despite expiring at the thought of blowing out two candles (what a blessing that we didn't use the other 86), he still had enough energy to take to the stage for a second time. Incidentally, I should probably mention that the picture on the cake is copyrighted to Tim Stubbings - although it hardly matters, because it has now been eaten!

Special note - Sir Donald very generously refused to take a fee, and instead suggested that we might make a donation to The Royal Theatrical Fund,  a charity of which Sir Donald is the President. The Fund provides assistance to people in the entertainment industry  (and their dependents) who cannot practice their craft through illness, adversity or infirmity.