Richard Laight died on 2 September 2016, at home, in the company of his wife Lindy, and daughters Sami, 30, Vicki, 28, and Georgi, 25. He was 55.
The grandfather to three (with another on the way) had been terminally ill, having been diagnosed with lung cancer in October 2015.
He spent much of the year supporting two causes close to his heart – Macmillan Cancer Support and Blackfriars Theatre and Arts Centre – and his family say in that time about £15,000 was raised for the pair.
Speaking to The Standard, Lindy, 55, said: “I have been with him for 35 years and I can’t have wished for a better 35 years.”
She said the family have been left ‘absolutely devastated’ by their loss.
Vicki said: “He is going to leave a massive hole in a lot of people’s hearts.”
The family spoke of Richard’s courage following his diagnosis.
“He just took it on the chin and got on with it,” Vicki said. “His words were ‘we will fight this’. He did show the utmost courage and that’s why we are so proud of him.”
“He never moaned about anything,” said Sami. “He looked forward, he never looked back.”
Richard Laight (centre) in a BGS production of Treasure Island c1975 with David Rodwell (right)
Richard was a director at Blackfriars and had been heavily involved in the Spain Lane venue for many years. He had also taken responsibility for Health and Safety in the theatre in the past few years. His knowledge of Blackfriars was extensive – he first performed in Blackfriars as a child, and had been an active member of BOS Musical Theatre Group for twenty years, taking both principal and chorus parts. He directed and produced several successful shows with them, including Annie, Oliver and Miracle on 34th Street. His production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way…” was nominated for a NODA Award. He also trod the boards with Playgoers, and was in the occasional “Blackfriars” production such as Corpus Castle. He made a very good Dame in Panto. In addition he was a skilled set builder, had extensive knowledge of sound and lighting, and was an efficient Stage Manager and backstage hand. In other words he had a passion for all aspects of theatre.
Following his death, Blackfriars chairman Stuart Bull said: “Richard was still a relatively young man who still had a lot to give, and Blackfriars Theatre and Arts Centre has lost a great friend.”
The family thanked the St Barnabas Hospice and Marie Curie charities for their support, as well as the vast number of people who have shared messages of sympathy with them.
They also wanted to send a message to people of Richard’s age to prompt them to consider cancer if they notice changes in their body to help with early diagnosis.