Family pay tribute to Ilkley theatre manager

Walter Swan
Walter Swan
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The family of a well-known theatre manager and Yorkshire Post contributor have paid tribute to him as a ‘devoted husband, dad and friend’ following his sudden death at the age of 59.

Walter Swan, the Creative Development Manager of Ilkley Playhouse, died of a suspected heart attack at his home in Moor Lane, Burley in Wharfedale, on Easter Monday.

His wife, Niccola, 55, and sons Laurie, 26, and Finlay, 24, described him as ‘the most loving husband and father we could ever have wished for’.

Mrs Swan said: “He was a devoted dad who loved his boys to bits. He was really well known in Ilkley – you couldn’t walk down the street without people stopping to say hello and he was always kind and welcoming. His death was so sudden and unexpected. He will be so missed by so many.”

On moving to Yorkshire from Croyden with his family in 1997, Oxford graduate Mr Swan joined the Burley Millennium Theatre Group, where he acted and directed in various plays before going to the Ilkley Playhouse. There he volunteered, acted and directed, as well as being the Artistic Director for several years. He also worked as a freelance writer for publications including Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Ridings Magazine and The Daily Telegraph. He taught English at Gateways School in Harewood for a time and gave home tutoring for pupils. He published two books with close friend and Yorkshire Post colleague Yvette Huddleston – A Day in a Dale – based on features the two had written for the paper and The Barefoot Shepherdess and Women of the Dales. Mr Swan, who was a keen amateur photographer, also provided the images for both books.

A member of Otley Golf Club, Mr Swan also played squash and he took part in fundraising cycling challenges.

Graham Smith, the chairman of the board of trustees at the Playhouse said: “Walter’s loss is immeasurable. He was a great actor and a very creative man. The Playhouse was his main interest in life outside of his family and he will be hugely missed by everyone.”

The Yorkshire Post’s Yvette Huddleston said: “Walter was a writer through and through – he loved words and used them beautifully in his journalism, playwriting, poetry and short stories. Walter always had time for people – he inspired and encouraged many through his work as a teacher and theatre practitioner and he was rightly held in great affection by everyone who got to know him. I, like so many others, will miss him enormously.”

Mrs Swan thanked the emergency service workers who attended when Walter fell ill at home.

She said arrangements for the funeral were still being made.