WHEN the curtain goes up on Fylde Coast Players’ next production next month, the date of the opening night will have particular significance for Andy Cooke, one of the play’s leading actors.
The Dresser is at Lowther Pavilion from March 20 – exactly 21 years to the day since Andy underwent a life-saving kidney transplant operation.
“It’s a date that I will never forget,” says Andy, who was diagnosed with renal failure in his early 20s and for nearly six years underwent dialysis three times a week for up to eight hours each time.
“I had been on the transplant waiting list for some time and was beginning to think it would never happen.”
Then, at the age of 28 in 1992, Andy received news which was to change his life.
“I was out late on a Saturday night enjoying myself with some friends,” recalls Andy, of Haven Road, Lytham, who has long been a familiar face on the Fylde amateur drama scene.
“My mother managed to contact me and she was extremely excited. She told me that the hospital had phoned to say they had a kidney match and I needed to get there as soon as possible. It was amazing. I was thrilled, of course, but also a bit apprehensive.”
Things moved very quickly after that. During the very early hours of the following morning, Andy was taken by ambulance from Blackpool to Manchester Royal Infirmary where the complex operation was carried out.
“I’m very thankful that it was successful,” says Andy who spent several weeks recovering from the major surgery.
However, he still needs to take immunosuppressants and other drugs because the transplanted kidney could be rejected by his body at any time.
In The Dresser, his role of an ageing tyrannical Shakespearian actor-manager known only as Sir is one of the most strenuous Andy has undertaken for Fylde Coast Players, who he joined in 2009.
In 2011 he won a National Operatic and Dramatic Association Best Actor award for playing bootmaker Willy Mossop in Hobson’s Choice.
Directed by NODA award-winner Heather Cartmell, The Dresser is at Lowther from March 20 to 23.