KEIGHLEY actors have been honoured after clocking up 305 years’ service between them.

The National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) have presented medals and bars to the six amateur thespians from Keighley Musical Theatre Company.

The award recipients were: Jonny Tate (30 years silver bar), Katharine Hickman (45 years silver bar), Pam Farrington (55 year pin), Louise Hindle-Barton (55 year pin), Audrey Tosney (50 years gold bar) and Keith Marsden (70 years pin).

Although NODA gives the medals to mark service to amateur theatre as a whole, most of the six actors’ years were served specifically with the Keighley group, which was previously known as Keighley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society.

Louise Hindle-Barton said it had been a great honour to have been chairman of Keighley Musical Theatre Company (KMTC) for the past 14 years and to have been friends with, and worked alongside, such dedicated people.

She said: “For most of my time I have been a performer supported by so many people out of the limelight.

“However it is only working as Chair and Wardrobe Mistress that I have really appreciated the considerable work that that many people do in the background that contributes to the success of our shows.”

Louise started at a very young age in pantomimes and musicals, going on to play lead parts in many of the productions led by Keith Marsden, both as a Principal Girl and Boy in pantomimes and starring roles in musicals.

As chairman, Louise has helped shape KMTC for the modern era and has encouraged the involvement of young people until recently through a weekly ‘singing club’.

KMTC spokesman David Brett said the society owed much of its current success to Louise’s leadership.

David continued: “Keith Marsden joined the society in 1942.

“Following in his father’s footsteps, Ernest Marsden, he developed a love for the theatre and went on to be a mainstay of the local amateur theatre scene. He has played parts, directed and written our pantomimes for over 50 years.

“He had a tremendous working relationship with Geoffrey Rundle who co-wrote the pantomimes. They often appeared together, and started with Keighley at St John’s Church in Ingrow in 1965 in ‘Jack & The Beanstalk’.

“Keith has continued to be involved in the committee and is now KMTC’s president.

“Jonny Tate has recently re-joined KMTC taking on major roles, Dolittle in ‘My Fair Lady’ and Edna Turnblad in ‘Hairspray’, and this coming October he will play Bill Sykes in ‘Oliver!’

“Jonny has played lead parts with a number of other societies and performed with Stage 84 at the Edinburgh Fringe. He has also directed the National Youth Theatre RSC youth productions.

“Audrey Tosney joined the Amateurs in 1969 and has been involved as a singer, dancer and playing parts in pantomimes and musicals. For many years her late husband Arnold, was also a member.

“When her performing days were over she continued to help with front of house, organising the programmes, and she was secretary of the committee for over 20 years.

“She is also a dab hand at serving tea and biscuits. Following her long service she was made a Life Member in 2017.

“Pam Farrington has been a long standing member of the society along with her husband Stuart, choreographer daughter Judith Chapman and grandchildren Sarah and Alice Chapman.

“She has performed many times as a dancer in musicals and pantomimes and more recently has been catering manager and helped with front of house. She is a permanent member of our committee.

“Katharine Hickman joined the society in 1974 and has been involved in many pantomimes and musicals as a singer, dancer and in lead roles along with dramatic roles in amateur theatre.

“She is on the committee at KMTC and often helps front of house and is our membership secretary.”