Family and friends pay tribute to theatre worker Derek Harrison

Derek Harrison
Derek Harrison
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Tributes have been paid to a much loved theatre worker, journalist, historian and author who has died at the age of 81.

Derek Harrison, who worked as a marketing director for Stamford Shakespeare Company at Tolethorpe Hall, has been remembered by his family and colleagues as a “people person who always had a story to tell”.

Mr Harrison lived in Elton Close, Stamford, and was a father to three daughters, two sons and had nine grandchildren and one great granddaughter. He lived with his wife Lesley, who he had been married to for 30 years, before she tragically died while walking her dog in 2007.

Mr Harrison passed away following a short illness on December 23.

His eldest daughter Lee, 55, said: “He was a very generous and spirited man. He was always interested in what other people where doing and loved telling stories.

“It was a terrible shock when he died because he was still mentally bright. He will be missed by the whole family.”

Mr Harrison was born in Nottingham in 1931. At the age of 18 he moved to Australia, where he landed a job as a journalist working for broadcaster ABC. He also worked for the post office and was involved in the opening of Australia’s national art gallery. It was also in Australia where he started his family, before moving back to England with them in 1968.

He moved to Bourne a few years later and worked as marketing director for Travis Perkins. Mr Harrison was also instrumental in the founding of Peterborough radio station Hereward FM, now named Heart Peterborough.

In the mid 1980s Mr Harrison started working for Stamford Shakespeare Company, and remained at Tolethorpe until his retirement in 2006. During his time with the theatre company, he helped secure and transform a new auditorium and following years of research, Mr Harrison also wrote a book about Tolethorpe Hall, Tolethorpe Histories.

His former colleague at Tolethorpe, Mike Harrison, said: “He was a mine of information and whatever he tried his hand at he would become an expert. If it had not been for Derek’s years of hard work with us, we would not be the attraction we are today.”

Mr Harrison’s son Tim added: “He always had a story to tell and was very engaging. He will be sorely missed.”

Mr Harrison’s funeral is taking place today at Tolethorpe Hall at 2pm.