Brian Butcher

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BRIAN Butcher, who has died aged 67, will be remembered by generations of Whitby students as an inspiring English and drama teacher for 40 years at Caedmon School, and beyond for his diverse cultural work throughout North Yorkshire and Cleveland.

He put on scores of productions inside and outside the school and organised numerous school trips to regional and national theatres. Among his proteges was Whitby’s Samuel Barnett who went on to a successful stage career at the Royal National Theatre and the Globe and a starring role in the film of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys.

Brian’s twin loves of music and drama saw him as the life and soul of a wide array of community activities which continued right up to his final illness. Shortly before Christmas he played concertina by candlelight at the Roxby church carol service.

Last September he was the impresario of live music at the Staithes Arts and Heritage Festival, assembling a variety of street buskers for a memorable night-time outdoor concert on the staith featuring folk, flamenco dance, the Whitby Community Choir and the 12-strong guitars of the local OM Guits band.

In Hinderwell, he was for many years the leading light in its drama group, touring musicals around the North York Moors and staging the village’s annual Christmas panto, writing, directing and acting, invariably as a barrel-chested Dame. He played the great Whitby explorer William Scoresby in the 2008 Yorkshire Wassail at Hutton-le-Hole and was instrumental in two major events at Staithes with the Blaize Community Arts Group.

A stalwart of folk festivals in Whitby, Saltburn and throughout the North East, Brian sang with the Whitby Community Choir, the Staithes Fishermen’s Choir and was a founder of the Men of Staithes Choir.

When he lost the best of his voice to cancer of the oesophagus two years ago, his involvement in local activities never faltered, from putting on concerts and benefits to driving the Staithes community bus.

Originally from Somerset, when he came to Yorkshire he made his home in Staithes where he was a hugely popular figure.

He leaves his former wife Sylvia and their three children, Lucy, Tom and Amy.