Auntie Pat - updated 21 June 07

"Hello Auntie Pat"

Betty Marie Patricia Whitcomb was a loyal supporter of the Theatre Royal in the 1980-90's. Known as Auntie Pat to staff and friends, she was related to a former theatre manager. She was a writer and poet who's love of the theatre led her to became a tour guide for the theatre visitors. When she died in 1994, having no local living relatives (although she does have a daughter Jill, living in America), her request was to be interred at the theatre. This request was granted and her ashes were installed behind a brick in one of the walls backstage beside 'the corner' by stage manager at the time, Fred Hudson. The spot, marked with a brass plaque (shown below in a still from tv's Ghost Detectives), the brick picked out with white paint so it stands out, has been blessed by a priest and is now holy ground.

It has now become a custom amongst staff and picked up by visiting and returning artistes, to greet Auntie Pat on entering the vicinity of her resting place. There have however been consequences for making light of the many spirits including Auntie Pat who are said to haunt the theatre, as TV star Bradley Walsh once found out to his cost when appearing at the Theatre Royal. During his act, he started to make jokes about the ghosts and spirits, his microphone immediately started to malfunction intermittently until he apologised to Pat, from then on he had no trouble with his mike for the rest of the show!

The photo of Pat (above) was up until recently also on the wall at the interment spot, but has now been replaced with an epitaph explaining the white brick's significance, whilst the photo is now in the safekeeping at the home of its owner, ex Theatre Royal general manager Michael Wheatley-Ward.

Below is part of the Ghost Detectives tv show from 2002 dealing with Auntie Pat's interment, narrated by Tom Baker.

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