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Hi-De-Hi will evoke memories for Pontin's stalwart David

PUBLISHED: 10:58 23 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:09 06 July 2010

MEMORIES of yesteryear are being evoked as a popular TV sitcom prepares to take centre stage in Lowestoft.

With its classic catchphrase "Morning campers…", the 1980s favourite Hi-de-Hi is poised to make a welcome return in a new stage adaptation that hits the Marina Theatre from next Thursday to Saturday, May 1.

MEMORIES of yesteryear are being evoked as a popular TV sitcom prepares to take centre stage in Lowestoft.

With its classic catchphrase “Morning campers…”, the 1980s favourite Hi-de-Hi is poised to make a welcome return in a new stage adaptation that hits the Marina Theatre from next Thursday to Saturday, May 1.

Focusing on the fictional 1950s holiday-camp Maplins, with the yellow coats take on the traditional Butlins redcoats, audiences are being promised a special campers reunion with lots of laughs along the way.

And with Lowestoft home to a number of thriving holiday centres, this classic comedy also looks set to rekindle plenty of nostalgia.

Among those looking forward to the stage adaptation of the series written by David Croft and Jimmy Perry, is former general manager at Pontin's Holiday Centre in Pakefield, David Gwyn.

Whilst confessing that the popular Hi-de-Hi programme didn't do the holiday business too much good in the 1980s, Mr Gwyn told The Journal this week that he was keen to see next week's production.

“Jimmy Perry and David Croft wrote brilliant scripts, which in many ways were 'spot-on,' one could see many individuals, which were employed on the centres in the productions,” he said.

With Hi-de-hi and the Maplins culture highlighting that holiday camps were places of fun and entertainment, Sir Fred Pontin - founder of Pontin's - has admitted in his authorised biography that he was a “fond” viewer.

Having opened in the 1930s as the Pakefield Hall Holiday Camp, this early unseen photograph - from July 1937 - shows the Pontin's Pakefield land being utilised. Here, is that year's Miss Pakefield - Edith Cox - at the wheel of what is believed to be an old Renault, which had been borrowed from the local farmers field to use in the Lowestoft Carnival procession, with guests of the day at Pontin's Pakefield.

Pakefield is showcased quite heavily in the two books of Sir Fred Pontin's life story, and as a “personal friend” of “the guv'nor,” Mr Gwyn, from Lowestoft, is also regularly featured.

After first applying to join Pontin's in 1957, the persistence of Mr Gwyn eventually led to him making a personal approach to the then manager at Pakefield Ed Miller in 1963. He was subsequently offered a position at Bracklesham Bay and after admitting it was “quite a baptism” into the Pontin's organsisation, these experiences stood Mr Gwyn in good stead for the future.

So much so that he went on to work and manage numerous centres, including a successful period at his Pakefield home, which led to him being named Pontin's manager of the year in 1988 where he remained up until his retirement in 1997.

“I had the great satisfaction of driving Sir Fred and Sir Billy Butlin together in Lancashire, and for me this is possibly one of my greatest memories of a long career in the business,” he told The Journal.

“They were former rivals who became great friends in their latter years.”

In 1959, Sir Fred Pontin officially unveiled the new outdoor swimming pool at Pakefield (pictured), and in the 1990s he is also pictured in Pakefield (in the centre) with Mr Gwyn on the left and the current entertainments manager Graham Henry on the right.

“Long serving entertainments manager Graham Henry, joined Pontin's in 1966 and he still employed in Pakefield today,” Mr Gwyn said.

Both Mr Gwyn and Mr Henry meet up each year at the annual big band/jazz weekend, which will this year be held from June 4 to June 7.

“Nearly 100 musicians and singers will be appearing and as the guv'nor would say, book early!” Mr Gwyn said.

For more information, or to book your seats to see Hi-De-Hi at the Marina, please call the box office on 01502 533200.

If you are interested in booking your place at the residential big band/jazz weekend, telephone 01502 584792.

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