There's 20 years of

entertainment behind Hereford Amateur Pantomime Society. More than enough to earn a reunion in May.

Not only is the Society turning a spotlight on itself, but it's bringing its origins out of the wings for a long overdue


The Wiggin Pantomime lasted 20 years too - remember that?

A HAND helped her into fantasyland; it shot up for that first chance of time in the limelight's shine.

Pick me ... pick me ... pick me...

Boys and girls - arms strained to catch the Dame's discerning gaze.

You... you... you... and...YOU.

Just a works canteen with a stage, but on nights like this somewhere for fairytale and folklore to collide, where attention is drawn not paid, all authority undermined, magic abounds and dreams invariably come true.

A topsy-turvy place called 'Panto'.

And at five years old a topsy-turvy place she wanted to be.

All this with sweets afterwards.

She could have been any one of the hundreds Janet Williams saw step on stage with the Wiggin Pantomime.

This was 1973 ... it was Dick Whittington ... Janet (from admin) was in the chorus.

The children trooped in with snow on their boots - proper winters back then - and trooped out with smiles as wide as their eyes.

It was for those smiles that the Panto started 10 years earlier. Final curtain had been called on Broad Street's Kemble Theatre, rather than see the kids sold short over their annual treat the Wiggin Recreation Club put on a show of its own.

Critical acclaim

Ali the Barber was a humble affair. Only two performances - a matinee for the youngsters and an evening show for the young at heart.

But the fun caught on, critical and audience acclaim came as the company consolidated on its current Holmer site.

The arrival of the Wiggin families in the 1960's - Scots and Welsh who 'may well have been moving to the other side of the world' according to one contemporary - helped define modern Hereford.

As those families wove a way into the city's social fabric, so their show became part of its scene.

And proved a great leveller. From the shop floor to senior management all were welcome to take a plunge in the talent pool.

The splash they made entertained around 140,000 over 20 years, raising more than £5,000 for local causes - with tickets that never topped 50p.

By the 1980s it was over. A year into that harshest of industrial decades the company confirmed 220 redundancies - not even show must go on spirit could survive such a climate.

Dick Whittington (re)turned again as the Wiggin Panto bowed out.

The survivors rallied around their costumes and scenery to form the Hereford Amateur Pantomime Society (HAPS) that played to packed houses for another 20 years - and looks good for a fair few more.


Janet Williams is President with an 'oppo' from Wiggin days Tony Taylor as treasurer. Yes, he worked in accounts.

There's the making of a magical occasion if every name these two troupers can conjure out of the old days attends the Wiggin-HAPS Panto reunion planned for May 17.

For one night only, at the Graftonbury Garden Hotel, past principals, princesses, pirates, villains, dames, fairies, genies, kings, courtiers and chorusgirls can come from all over the county (and country) to share the spotlight again.

Along with those backstage who helped them into it.

The Wiggin 'theatre' where they starred is no more, torn down to make way for industrial units.

Its foyer survives as the entrance to The Hereford Times - where that topsy-turvy little lady from 1973 works now.

Oh yes she does.

l To contact Janet call 01432 267608 or see