Lloyd awarded CHMCC Lifetime Entry
IT'S opening night for the latest Coffs Harbour Musical Comedy Company's production.
Two things are certain - the show must go on, and when the lights go up, Lloyd Erwin will be watching the show from the front row end seat next to exit doors.
He'll be seeing Hello Dolly not once, but probably three or four times, as he's done over the years for every one of the CHMCC productions.
This week the community theatre company paid homage to their most loyal patron by awarding him the CHMCC Lifetime Entry card which entitles Lloyd to attend all of its shows as many times as he likes and, of course, in his special seat.
CHMCC president Grahame Williams said the award was a way for the group to say thank you to Lloyd for his support.
Born in 1926 in Armidale, Lloyd's life is uniquely entwined with the history of the Jetty Memorial Theatre, built when Lloyd was two years old.
A childhood illness robbed Lloyd of the potential to read or write or to live independently, but gave the world a gentle, shy man with a passion for musical comedy and a determination to be of service.
By the 1940s the theatre had passed into the hands of Jack Gerard who transformed it into a motion picture theatre.
Captivated by the movies, the teenage Lloyd began his volunteer career sweeping up after the shows and working in the projection room, rewinding the 35 mm films by hand so they would be ready for the next day's show.
Lloyd's service to Coffs Harbour's motion picture business greatly expanded when Gerard established the town's second cinema, the Tasma Theatre, in what is now Palms Shopping centre.
In those 'good old days', the price of admission got you not one but two feature presentations.
Both theatres played the same double feature and both theatres were open at the same time. Since Gerard had only one copy each of the two shows, how could they possibly run simultaneously?
The solution - send trusty Lloyd between the two theatres on his pushbike during intermission. In his basket would be the film just run at the Jetty.
Reaching the Tasma, he'd do a quick trade for the film just run at the Tasma and be back in time for the Jetty's second feature presentation.
Just like the postman, Lloyd delivered the films through the heaviest of rain, the biggest hailstones, and the gustiest of winds.
He's 82 now, and he says he's not riding that bicycle any more. But his life of volunteer service to the Coffs Harbour community continues.
Nowadays you'll find Lloyd from 1pm to 4pm every afternoon at the Jetty Village helping the shopkeepers by rounding up errant trolleys and collecting empty cardboard boxes for recycling and he also takes great delight in his 11 grand nieces and nephews.
When you go to see the CHMCC production of Hello Dolly, keep your eye out for Lloyd. You'll certainly know where to look - front row, end seat, near the exit doors.
You just might want to shake his hand and thank him for all he has done and continues to do for this community.
You might also get a glimpse of the triumph of generosity of spirit and determination to serve against all odds that has characterised this life well lived.