Ladies and Gentlemen
At 1030 on most “First Saturdays of the Month” since 2002, Sean Bowman has usually started one of his much loved tours of the Kings Theatre. Very sadly, at 1030 this Saturday, he wasn’t there, as he slipped peacefully away last Thursday evening.
At 1030 this “First Saturday of the Month”, the Chief Executive, staff, directors, working party volunteers and the members of the Kings Youth Theatre stood in a one minute’s silence on the stage of the theatre he loved so much in his memory.
Sean will be remembered across the City of Portsmouth for his dedicated 30 plus years as a teacher at St Edmunds School, and for his performing, costume and committee work with The Portsmouth Players. They will all have many fond memories of him, and there is also his work with choirs across the County, and his love of Malta as well, plus many other things I don’t know of, and his ties to his wider family back home in the North of England.
I worked with him in The Portsmouth Players, but I worked with him most closely during the AKTER campaign to save the Kings Theatre and latterly on the board of directors at the theatre to help run it. I have written before of the wonderful group of people who came together at the turn of the Millennium to find a future for the Kings Theatre, saints all of them to give up so much time for this iconic building, and Sean was one of the most passionate and most dedicated. The city has been incredibly fortunate to have had such a man as he adopt Portsmouth as his home, as he has made such a difference to the theatre.
He was the first Education and Heritage Director of the Trust, and he laid the foundations for all the education activities that have developed since. One of my favourite photographs is of Sean sat on the steps by the Bay Window in the Dress Circle Foyer, surrounded by Primary School youngsters listening attentively to him during one of his educational tours. Although he relinquished the education side of his portfolio to Bill Taylor a couple of years ago, he set the thriving education programme on its path to its current huge success, and it was particularly fitting that the members of the Kings Youth Theatre could be there for the One Minute’s silence.
As Heritage Director, he initiated the Kings Theatre’s involvement in Heritage Open Days every September, and he loved being able to tell everyone about the building. He worked a lot with the archive in the early days before handing that over to Tony Young and the team, and he was a huge tower of strength in the run up to the Centenary Year, working with the Building Committee and the architect to develop the décor schemes for the auditorium and the public rooms, and working tirelessly on the Centenary celebrations themselves, especially the Centenary Gala on 30 September 2007. He created the beautiful colour programme for the show, which has to be one of the best show programmes I have ever seen. And when he wasn’t doing that, he restored all the velvet pelmets and drapes in the auditorium as well, so the theatre looked its best in it’s newly restored décor for its big night
In the last couple of years, Sean wrote a book on the history and times of the Kings Theatre, and he had virtually finished it when sadly, he passed away. It is very much hoped that the book can be published in his memory, and this will be looked into in due course. It is also hoped that an event at the theatre can be held to commemorate Sean’s life in Portsmouth.
“Cometh the hour, cometh the man” – Sean came to Portsmouth, fell in love with the place, and stayed for the rest of his life, and we have all benefited from having him with us. I know many people have already said to me how much they will miss him, and I will too, I am proud to have known him.
Kings Theatre Trust Ltd