Nostalgia: Rikki Fulton goes back to his acting roots with visit to Kirkcaldy
It was back to where it all began for Scots comic actor Rikki Fulton when he made a special guest appearance at a fundraising Kirkcaldy event in June 1983.
The Francie and Josie and Scotch and Wry star was in town to open a grand garden fete at Victoria Hospital and revealed that it was in the Lang Toun where he took his very first steps on to the stage.
On the day itself, rain – which had fallen in buckets the night before – could have spelled disaster, but instead it proved to be a glorious day in every respect.
The sun came out as if on cue and brought a cheer from battalions of smallholders who had been keeping a wary eye on the threatening sky.
The fete, organised by the Friends of Victoria group, was due to open in the grounds of Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital at 2pm, but the crowds started to gather long before then.
No-one wanted to miss the star attraction, the Rev. I. M. Jolly himself...
Rikki, accompanied by his wife, Kate Mathieson, arrived a few minutes late, which gave him an excuse to tell a delighted audience about a funny thing that happened on the way to the fete.
It was a day of reminiscence for the star of stage and screen, who told how he started his professional career in Kirkcaldy.
“I won’t say how long ago that was,” he joked, “but Adam Smith was taking the tickets!”
It transpired that his first professional stage appearance did, indeed, take place at the Adam Smith Hall, as it was then, in Scott of Abbotsford, a play by WE Gunn about the life of Sir Walter Scott.
After promising he would be on hand throughout the afternoon to meet his fans – a promise which he kept – the man behind a host of comic characters then came face to face with himself.
Nurse Louisa Marina from St Andrews, stepped forward to present him with a marquetry panel bearing his profile which had been specially made by apprentices of local furniture manufacturers, A. H. McIntosh.
However, the main object of the day of course, was to raise money.
Around £16,000 was needed to replace the ten-year-old hospital bus used to take elderly patients for summer picnics and other special events.
The huge crowd responded magnificently and, in the words of Elizabeth Black, chairman of the Friends of Victoria, the fete “went like a bomb”.
“It went tremendously well,” she told the Fife Free Press.
“There was tremendous co-operation from the staff, the Friends and the public.
“When the sun came out at about 12.30pm an almighty roar went up from the stallholders. It was a very, very successful fete.”
And the Friends achieved their goal – over £17,000 was raised on the day, smashing their target.
But the final word went to the star of the show Rikki Fulton, who praised the Friends of Victoria for all, their hard work.
“My impression,” he said, “is that it is a tremendously highly organised, very efficiently run organisation – and they know how to raise money!”