THE long-serving chairman of the Wharfedale Festival of Theatre has been presented with a Lifetime Achievement award.

The festival committee met on August 3 for a special celebratory lunch to present Mr Pinder with the the Lifetime Achievement Award Rose Bowl as he retires from the role of chairman to take on the new title of Festival president.

Mr Pinder had been due to mark his retirement as chairman at the Wharfedale Festival of Theatre's Awards Evening on Saturday, July 8 but had been unable to attend due to ill health.

Ken Stott, the Festival’s new chairman, said the Wharfedale Festival of Theatre owed an immense debt to Mr Pinder. He said: “The Festival started as a one-act play competitive event in 1960 at Old Pool Bank Village Hall, and in 1963 it moved to a venue with better facilities – the village hall at Pool-in-Wharfedale. It was hosted and staged by Pool Country Players and it was at that stage that Malcolm and I became part of the Festival team.

"It grew in size, moved to St Mary’s School Menston and, in the 1980s, changes at Airedale and Wharfedale College and at St Mary’s forced the College to hand over the reins to us volunteers. We as the Festival’s Committee were therefore left to go it alone with a proud tradition of supporting the amateur theatre, and the banked receipts from 20 years of operation.

"Almost another 20 successful years followed at our new base at Otley Civic Centre but gradually fashions changed, one act play festivals lost their popularity, and in 1999 with only three entries our Festival seemed to be reaching the end of its useful life. It was then that Malcolm Pinder came up with the current format – a peripatetic festival for full-length plays and musicals to be performed by adults and young people and assessed in their home venues by a travelling panel of assessors. It proved a winner!

"The Festival was re-launched in the year 2000 in its new format as the Wharfedale Festival of Theatre and since then has grown hugely. Its aims – to celebrate and advance standards in the amateur theatre and to encourage the participation of young people in the amateur theatre - have never altered, but it now has five competitions – Drama (Adults), Musicals (Adults), Pantomimes (Adults), Musicals (Youth & Schools) and Drama (Youth & Schools). This year it attracted a record entry of 32.

"Malcolm Pinder has been part of and inspired the Festival for more than 50 years and is happy now to retire as chairman, so that he can instead take up the role of president. This new role will enable him to remain involved with the Festival to which he has given so much, but without the burdens that go with membership of the committee and the assessment panel.

"Thank you, Malcolm, for everything.”