Marlowe Theatre, The Friars, Canterbury, England
In November, 2011, Dave Lee pulled out of that year’s Marlow Theatre’s pantomime, Cinderella. He was due to play the dame. He’d been a pantomime dame many times before. At the Marlowe Theatre alone, he’d appeared in over a thousand performances over a period of 16 years. Oh, yes he did. Two months later, in January 2012, Dave Lee was dead. At the young age of 64. Pancreatic cancer. His funeral was held at Canterbury Cathedral and attended by many of the stars he’d worked with during his showbiz career. In his time, Dave had been a warm-up comedian for Michael Parkinson, Michael Aspel, Jimmy Tarbuck, and he’d made audiences laugh on shows like the Generation Game and Celebrity Squares. But that wasn’t the only reason he was loved. Dave Lee raised over £2million for sick, disabled and under-privileged children. His charity Dave Lee’s Happy Holidays aimed to give those children and their families experiences, trips, holidays…and most importantly, memories. After he died, the charity closed. It couldn’t see a way forward without its founder. Cancer had robbed the world of a much-loved performer, and of someone who’d made a real difference in the lives of other people.