The mother of the celebrated late Chester entertainer Keith Harris marked the milestone of her 100th birthday on Tuesday (July 11).
Former Vicars Cross resident Lila Harris has been connected with theatre for most of her life in her own right, as well as being mum to famous ventriloquist Keith Harris of Orville the Duck fame.
Born in Stratford, east London, she met her husband Norman while she was singing and dancing in a touring version of the show No No Nanette back in the 30s.
During World War Two Norman was enlisted and Lila - by this time the mother of two young boys Colin and Keith - was evacuated to a village in Hampshire where she started a dancing school for the local children.
After the war Lila, Norman and the boys moved to Chester where Norman was employed by a dispensing chemist in Bridge Street. Meanwhile, with the boys in full time education at Overleigh School, Lila again started a small Saturday morning dancing school and later began working for local showbiz personality Dennis Critchley as his wardrobe mistress at the old Royalty Theatre on City Road.
It was at this venue that son Keith got his first taste of show business by appearing with his father in a music hall double act. From those early beginnings Keith’s career took off and in the late 70s and 80s he had his own regular TV shows.
When Keith married his fourth wife, a Blackpool girl named Sarah Metcalf, and settled in that town, Lila and Norman, now in their 80s, left Vicars Cross and moved up to the old seaside resort to be closer to Keith, Sarah and their two children Kitty and Shenton.
About ten years ago, Norman passed away and Lila moved into sheltered housing at Croft House, Poulton Le Fylde, just round the corner from Keith and Sarah. Two years ago Keith died following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.