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Eric Morecambe remembered after Tewkesbury tragedy

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: May 28, 2009

Eric Morecambe with Stan Stennett before the Tewkesbury show

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The man who tried to revive Eric Morecambe after he collapsed at Tewkesbury's Roses Theatre has recalled the poignant moment 25 years on.

The much-loved comic died on May 27, 1984, doing what he loved, having just walked off stage at the Roses.

Eric, half of the legendary Morecambe and Wise double act, had been appearing at a charity show to raise money for disabled facilities at the theatre.

He had agreed to take part to help out old friend Stan Stennett, who was theatre manager, and was making his first stage appearance for several years.

Eric, 58 had delighted the 400-strong crowd in the aud- itorium by talking to Mr Stennett in a chat-show-style format.

He talked about the two heart attacks he had suffered.

At the end of the show, Eric returned to the stage for an encore and joined in a musical number.

As he left the stage for the final time, he collapsed with what proved to be another, and fatal, heart attack.

He was given immediate help by then- Tewkesbury town mayor Dr Andrew Crowther, who was in the audience.

He died at Cheltenham General Hospital at 4am the following morning.

Dr Crowther (inset) said: "I was at the theatre because I was chairman of the town council – but also on call – so we sat right at the front and side of the theatre in case I had to go.

"At the end of the show Eric was vamping it up with the musicians and getting more and more elated and excited.

"He was saying goodbye and waggling his glasses. He had a history of heart trouble and I remember thinking he might have been doing too much.

"After he left for the last time, the stage manager popped his head out and looked straight at me and ferociously gestured for me to come over."

Dr Crowther said he left his chain of office with his wife and went backstage, where Eric was lying.

He said: "The band was still playing and the curtain hadn't come down. Fortunately he was out of sight.

"He was very unwell. I had a radio-telephone because I was on call and got an ambulance which came immediately and took him to hospital but he died some hours later."

Dr Crowther, who retired in 2005, added: "It is a very poignant memory – it was quite a night.

"The seats my wife and I were sitting in are now dedicated to Eric Morecambe's memory. They're C1 and 2 and I've never sat in them since."

In 1994, 10 years after Eric's death, the Roses Theatre renamed its committee room the Eric Morecambe Room. A plaque and a photograph, donated by Eric's widow Joan, hangs on the wall.

Speaking at the unveiling Morecambe's son Gary said: "My father will always be linked to the Roses."

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