28th November

A special premiere of the life story of veteran Worthing singer Shirley Western was screened to residents of Guild Care’s Dolphin Court sheltered accommodation complex last week.

Shirley, 82, has entertained around the UK and internationally, performing for the Royal family, as well as with many showbiz names such as Shirley Bassey, Eartha Kitt and Ken Dodd.

For over six decades she has worked in the entertainment business, beginning as a child star in pantomimes and as a chorus girl in Glasgow before moving down to London and becoming a singer performing in the West End for many years.

At one time she led her own band ‘Shirley Western and the Rocking Ravers’ and sang with the big band leader Ken Mackintosh from 1958 for 15 years. She even performed as an extra and double for Barbara Windsor in the ‘Carry on Girls’ film!

Shirley with Guild Care Trustee, Percy Nowell, and the film's director, David Allen

Shirley retired down to Worthing in the 1970s and regularly performed at the Assembly Halls and Pavilion. It was during this time that she met her husband of 36 years, Roy Dew, who was a former Chelsea FC player and has been a volunteer at Guild Care for over 20 years.

She said: “When I worked at the Empire in Leicester Square all the top footballers used to come in on a Saturday night. Roy always said he fancied the singer - me - and tried to meet me back stage but it never happened. Then 20 years later I bumped into him in a shop in Goring and we’ve been happily married ever since.”

Shirley and Roy have lived at Dolphin Court for the last six year but recently moved to Littlehampton. She said: “We were very happy and well looked after by the staff. I’ve had such a wonderful life, meeting so many great people and travelling the world. I’ve been very lucky, although showbiz is in my blood as my father and grandfather were both entertainers in Scotland.”

Shirley and Roy at Guild Care's 2018 Staff and Volunteer Awards

The 50-minute film was produced by David Allen of South Downs Film Makers - a local club for budding film enthusiasts. He said: “My partner works at Dolphin Court so I know Shirley well and thought it would be great to make a film of her really interesting life story, plus it’s a bit easier for her than writing a book!”

The screening at Dolphin Court was also an opportunity for current residents to say a final farewell to Shirley.

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