Singer, 91, returns to Harrogate Royal Hall stage after 69 years

Olwen Evason with her husband Ron and niece Elaine Kenyon (s).
Olwen Evason with her husband Ron and niece Elaine Kenyon (s).

She first took the stage of the Royal Hall as a budding soprano just after the end of the Second World War.

Now 91-year-old Olwen Evason has returned for the first time in almost 70 years as part of a birthday surprise arranged by her family.

During the War I used to sing a lot entertaining the forces and then I went professional. I still sing every week at home

Olwen Evason

Mrs Evason, of Chorley in Lancashire, had no idea her niece Elaine Kenyon and Elaine’s husband Ron had arranged the trip, though she had been told to expect a surprise on Wednesday last week (18 Mar)

Mrs Evason said: “I couldn’t believe it. I had been guessing all sorts of things but Ron said you will never get it. I never expected this.

“I would have been about 23 or 24 when I performed here. I had just started out singing. If I close my eyes I can visualise what it was like back then but it was hard to see from the stage because you have lights shining on you.

“During the War I used to sing a lot entertaining the forces and then I went professional. I still sing every week at home just for my own pleasure.”

Mrs Evason was given a guided tour of the historic theatre and posed for a photo on the stage she performed on in 1946, although she resisted the temptation to burst into song this time.

Mr Kenyon and his wife Elaine came up with the idea of a visit to The Royal Hall after noticing a poster, for the original 1946 performance, in Mrs Evason’s home.

He said: “She knew we had a surprise for her but she couldn’t guess it. When we got to the traffic lights at the bottom of Parliament Street Olwen said she remembered playing here in 1946 - then we pulled up outside.”

Royal Hall manager, Andy Lane said: “She had a lovely time; she was in tears when she got here. She had a good wander around of the back stage area and had her picture taken in the hall.”

Mrs Evason’s visit was arranged as part of the regular Royal Hall open days when members of the public can look around the theatre, unaccompanied, free of charge.

The next open day takes place on April 7 and will also feature guided tours at £3 per person.

Details at www.hicyorkshire.co.uk/whats-on