Terry Boyle obituary

The Guardian
The Guardian
Terry Boyle Photograph: from family/Unknown

A loving, working-class upbringing nurtured an unrelenting drive to create and learn in my father, Terry Boyle, who has died aged 90. A keen amateur dramatist, compelling storyteller, singer and poet, he had that knack of conjuring a person, real or imagined, of making them present in a gesture, a well-judged expression. He brought vivacity to our family life.

The majority of his working life was spent at Courtaulds textile factory in Preston, Lancashire, where he rose to be a manager; when the factory closed in 1980, Terry wanted more than anything to train as a schoolteacher. However, with a large family to support, he began working at Deepdale Adult Training Centre in Preston, for people with disabilities, and remained there for another decade. With the trainees he created stage shows set in Victorian Japan, 1950s Blackpool and more. Friends would encounter Terry in libraries, lost in music scores, playscripts and books.

From a 1949 youth club appearance in breeches, knee-length boots, lace collar and wig in She Stoops to Conquer, Terry’s enthusiasm for Gilbert and Sullivan saw him take lead roles through to the 70s at St Augustine’s in Preston and many other Lancashire amateur operatic societies. For Southport Little Theatre he willingly shaved off his thick, Brylcreemed hair for a 1973 production of The King and I. My mother refused to be seen in public with our King of Siam until his hair grew back.

Born in Preston, the son of Francis, an iron foundry worker and Annie (nee Parkinson), a cotton weaver, Terry was a doted-upon only child, surrounded by a melee of Irish-English cousins. He flourished at Preston grammar school, where he first secured acting roles, but left at 16 and, although he never blamed his parents, often referred to leaving school before he was ready.

At Courtaulds, he met Jean Crossthwaite, an analytical chemist. They were both members of Courtaulds factory drama club, and married in 1954, going on to have five children. At home, potential pigment names were pinged back and forth, my father’s favourite being intense Mikado Gold, or the blues Adonis, Larkspur and Lobelia that he liked to wear, matching his eyes.

In retirement, he continued to direct plays and wrote two musicals that were produced by amateurs. He also self-published a poetry book set in the textile towns of Preston and Manchester in the late Victorian period.

To his grandchildren, he became a velvet-voiced reader of bedtime stories, a trusted hair-brusher, joker, a mischievous partner at the other end of a see-saw. He sat with many elderly relatives in the final moments of their lives.

Aged 90 and with two kinds of dementia, he was still on the look-out for accolades, still able to remember his nifty footwork and jive me round the living room.

He is survived by four sons, Shaun, Karl, Mark and Damian, and me, five grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

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