A MOVING tribute has been paid to one of the most influential figures in the rise of the Blackburn Empire Theatre.

Harold Carter, the theatre’s former technical manager and director, died on Tuesday aged 81.

Theatre chairman Michael Berry said this week had been “one of the saddest weeks in the history of Blackburn Empire Theatre”, describing Mr Carter as a “theatre legend”.

Mr Carter, of Langdale Close, Feniscowles, was a time served electrician who worked for a number of Blackburn companies including Walsh’s and Clayton, Goodfellow and Co before ending his career at Blackburn College.

He was associated with the theatre for four decades and initially had volunteered to carry out work on the premises of the former Red Brick Theatre at Ewood when it was just a shell of a building.

Mr Berry said: “He was totally dedicated and loyal to the theatre and played a big part in the restoration of the old building and the success that we are all very proud of.

“He must have worked on hundreds of productions over the years both professional and amateur and was responsible for all aspects of staging, sound and lighting. Harold was a perfectionist but could be an outspoken man at times which earned him the nickname of 'Fireworks'. But he was fair and gentle in many ways. He was also keen to share his knowledge and to encourage everyone he worked with.

“I had the privilege of working with Harold for 21 years and in that time if there was any disagreement or 'fireworks' that soon passed and within a few minutes he was best pals with you again. He would always come to me after any difference and call me 'Boss' - I always took that as an absolute complement.

“As chairman of this wonderful theatre that Harold and his wife Connie helped to make a success, I have to say that it is a privilege to have been part of his life and will never forget him and to say 'Fireworks' was a friend of mine."

Mr Carter leaves his wife Connie, son John and daughter Alison.

His funeral will take place at 11.15am on Tuesday, June 4 at St Paul’s Church in Audley.