Eleanor clocks up 45 years in musical circles

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ELEANOR Birse has no plans to step down from the stage after chalking up 45 years with two local societies.

The 73-year-old from Helen Street, in Forfar, spent 20 years as a member of Forfar Amateur Operatic Society (now Forfar Musical Society) and followed that up with 25 years on stage with Kirriemuir Amateur Operatic Society.

And passing the 45-year mark has been recognised by the National Operatic and Dramatic Association, local representative Ron Stewart appearing on stage at the end of the Friday evening production of Calamity Jane in Kirriemuir to present Eleanor with her latest long-service medal.

Eleanor certainly doesn’t allow the grass to grow under her feet, for she has been treading the boards and featuring in local entertainment circles since her mid teens.

She joined the Forfar New Players at the age of 16, and can recall one of her early roles.

It was in Aunt Janet, the Forfar New Players having been invited as the first society to perform in the Reid Hall on the completion of renovation work which came in the wake of a major blaze at the venue.

She continued with Forfar New Players for a number of years until the group was disbanded.

Thereafter, being Worthy Matron of the Eastern Star, she joined forces with the Worthy Patron David Massie to establish the Purple Heather Group, which did a lot of charity work during the early sixties.

Eleanor went on to join the Angus Cronies, a group that found success in the then popular television show Bothy Nights, winning the Brose Cup on three occasions.

It was in 1965 that Eleanor joined the Forfar Amateur Operatic Society – to kick-start her 45-year local stage career.

Throughout her time in Forfar and Kirriemuir she has played numerous leading parts – including Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun, Magnolia in Showboat, Lady Thiang in The King and I, Golda in Fiddler on the Roof and Bloody Mary in South Pacific.

And, she has no plans to step down just quite yet.

“I have enjoyed it so much that I will continue to help KAOS as long as I can, if not in the chorus then back stage,” she commented last Thursday.

Away from the stage, Eleanor continues to lead a busy life.

She and husband Bill were mine-hosts of three popular local hostelries, the Plough Inn, Charleston Inn and the Zoar Inn.

In semi-retirement, Eleanor enjoys her seasonal part-time job in the shop at Glamis Castle, while Bill, now aged 79, has only just laid down his keys, having been working part-time driving handicapped children to and from school.