Playwright John Godber in plea for arts funding at Palace ceremony

Dr John Godber with his OBE medal following an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace
Dr John Godber with his OBE medal following an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace
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He is Britain’s third most performed playwright, after Shakespeare and Alan Ayckbourn, so it was perhaps not surprising that words came easily to him in the presence of the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace yesterday.

John Godber OBE, who had steered Hull Truck Theatre to international acclaim for a quarter of a century, said he had used his investiture to plead the case for continued investment in the city’s artistic life.

It was crucial, he said, if it was to keep the benefit it had gained during its year as the UK’s City of Culture.

Mr Godber, a miner’s son and former teacher who has written or adapted around 60 works for the stage, said it was William who had brought up the subject.

“He was asking whether we thought the City of Culture had delivered,” he said.

“I think it has generally, but like any of these projects it’s what happens next, so it’s the legacy, and that needs support and the oxygen of money to make work and also give the city confidence.

“You have to keep the kettle boiling – these enterprises can’t be like a sponsorship for a sport. There has to be long term investment.”

Mr Godber, whose best-known works include Bouncers, Blood, Sweat and Tears and Up ’n’ Under, has lived in Hull most of his life. He parted company with Hull Truck around eight years ago.

Other Yorkshire recipients at the investiture included Prof Margaret House, vice-chancellor of Leeds Trinity University, who was presented with an OBE is for services to education. She joined the former Trinity and All Saints College five years ago, as it achieved university status.

Meanwhile, Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservatives’ 1922 Committee, was knighted by Prince William, and said afterwards that “anyone who claims to know” how many MPs have requested a leadership election “doesn’t”.

Sir Graham said he had been asked by the Duke whether he was choosing to stand down at this point. “I said I wasn’t,” he said. His knighthood was one of a number of awards to Tory party members in the New Year Honours, with claims of cronyism levelled at Mrs May.