Top prize for theatre stalwart

COMPERE Peter Phillips had the tables turned on him at the last-ever east Suffolk's theatre Oscars - as he was presented with a lifetime achievement award for his stage work.

COMPERE Peter Phillips had the tables turned on him at the last-ever east Suffolk's theatre Oscars - as he was presented with a lifetime achievement award for his stage work.

The award was one of a number made on the night to mark the fine performances of companies, actors and actresses, and behind-the-scenes teams, in plays presented at a variety of venues.

The ESTAAs - East Suffolk Theatre Amateur Awards - have been much coveted over the past four years, but organisers have been forced to call it a day because of the huge amount of work involved.

The awards have not only promoted theatre, but also raised more than £15,000 for good causes.

Mr Phillips was compering the ESTAA Swansong evening at the Hotel Elizabeth Orwell in Felixstowe when BBC Radio Suffolk's Bob Shelley, who was presenting the awards, announced the special award to the master of ceremonies.

Sylvia Lowe, Ron Markwell, John Whelton and Maureen Whelton had all been in contention for the, but the judges decided to reward Mr Phillips, 62, of Felixstowe, for his dedication and long association with the theatre, praising him for his work as an actor but also an enabler.

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Mr Phillips, who is married to Celia, was part of a drama group which raised money to purchase its own theatre, and then worked with Felixstowe Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society both as an actor, chairman and helping to raise money to improve its headquarters.

He has starred with Stage Door, Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society, and the Gallery Players, and has won many awards for his roles and the plays he has performed in.

He has also been chairman of the New Wolsey Theatre since it was reformed.

“Peter is very popular with audiences and actors for his generosity of spirit and the warmth of his personality,” said the judges.

Other winners on the evening included six awards for the Gallery Players for their productions of Kindertransport and She Loves Me.

ESTAA chairman Jacqueline Cumiskey said it had been a wonderful evening and it was hoped a substantial sum had been raised for the St Felix Home for the Blind and Deben High School's community theatre project.

She thanked everyone who had supported the evening and taken part, especially the Deben Jazz Band and Deben students Alexandra Peters, Abbi Farnworth, Betty Charlton, Flora Charlton, Dan Ablitt, Sian Trimble-Davey, who performed songs from the Gershwin era, choreographed by drama teacher Alison Bennett with the musical director Matt Keane.

The evening was sponsored by East of England Co-operative Society, Elizabeth Hotel Group and The Evening Star.


What are your memories of the ESTAAs? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail


Best lead actor: Mike Richardson in Annie by The Angel Players.

Best supporting actor: Tony Cook, Guys and Dolls, The Appeal Theatre Group.

Best lead actress: Amy Restall, Kindertransport, Gallery Players.

Best supporting actress: Sheila Garnham, Kindertransport, Gallery Players.

Best technical achievement: Kindertransport, Gallery Players.

Best musical: She Loves Me, Gallery Players.

Best play: Kindertransport, Gallery Players.

Best achievement in a small budget production: Our Day Out, Debenham Players.

Best youth production: Barnum, Summer Youth Project.

Best achievement in direction: Steve Wooldridge, Kindertransport, Gallery Players.

Best youth performance: David Webb and Helen McCraw, Les Misreables, The Co-op Juniors.

Lifetime achievement: Peter Phillips.