Top honour for Burnley’s ‘Mr Light Opera’

Colin Sanderson
Colin Sanderson

Thirty years ago Mr Colin Sanderson became the chairman of Burnley Light Opera Society – a position he has held ever since.

Now the man known as Burnley’s “Mr Light Opera” has been awarded the highest honour in local amateur dramatics – a Special Achievement Award from NODA, the National Operatic and Dramatic Society.

You don’t get these awards unless you have a super committee behind you and a lot of other work by members which is reflected in how BLOS has progressed over the years. It’s all down to the team, their services to amateur theatre are a one off

Colin Sanderson

Which is doubly special because he has never appeared on stage in an acting role; but is the man who keeps things going behind the scenes.

Colin (83) is currently recovering slowly from a long illness following a fall at his home last October when he broke a vertebrae in his neck after returning from a rehearsal of “Guys And Dolls”.

He spent weeks in hospital but, as soon as was able, returned to his role at Burnley Light Opera Society and is helping to oversee their production latter this month of “Give My Regards To Broadway”.

And it is during one of the three evening performances that he will be invited up onto the stage at Burnley Mechanics Theatre to receive the award, as he was unable to attend the NODA presentation evening at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel.

He said: “It is an honour and I am improving steadily so am looking forward to being there and receiving the award.”

He said he became involved in the society, which is known as BLOS, through his involvement with Burnley Round Table many years ago when they used to run the hospital radio broadcasts. They broadcast the BLOS shows on the radio and eventually on TV to hospital patients, and the late chairman of the society Eric Riley asked him to join the committee.

The rest is history and he became the popular chairman of the society 30 years ago. Since then he has helped to keep it at the forefront of the local theatre scene with its hugely popular musical shows every November and its spring concerts which have been frequent winners of NODA awards.

He added: “You don’t get these awards unless you have a super committee behind you and a lot of other work by members which is reflected in how BLOS has progressed over the years. It’s all down to the team, their services to amateur theatre are a one off.”

Burnley-born Colin, who was married to the late Cynthia, was a partner in Smith Sutcliffe Solicitors and has been practicing for 62 years since qualifying in 1954.