Paddy Lyons is 88 years old and married to Elsie; they have five children and seven grandchildren.
Before he retired in the mid-1990’s he was a communications director for a national children’s charity and then focused on a number of other activities such as writing a book and setting up night-shelters for the homeless in the Borough of Barnet.
When Paddy was 83, and with no previous theatrical experience, he became not only an actor, but a singer, dancer, film maker and script writer. He also continues to use his many skills as a fundraiser for Chickenshed.
Paddy never saw himself as a performer – over the years he was very very happy to go to Chickenshed to see his children, Catherine Matthew, Joseph, Daniel and Anthony and then his seven grandchildren, Olivia, Toby, Hannah, Max, Oscar, Louie and Arlo perform in a variety of shows. His wife, Elsie, has also performed in a few over the years.
Performing at Chickenshed
Paddy was the only one of his large family who hadn’t been tempted to go on stage until 2017 - when Chickenshed reached out to people aged over 50 to join The Space Between Us, a new intergenerational group.
Using the Beatles 'Sgt Pepper’s' album as an artistic thrust (which Paddy loved) Chickenshed asked Paddy if he would like to join as they were a little light in men volunteers. Paddy, never shying away from a challenge, volunteered - maybe a little reluctantly at first - but he gave it a go. He thought it was rather exciting that after spending 37 years as a Chickenshed supporter - his family would now be seeing him on the stage.
For Paddy and many of the other over 50s it was the first time they’d experienced taking part in a creative theatre workshop. And the thought of performing to an audience on stage the following year was daunting.
Four weeks into the project Chickenshed introduced their Young Company to join the over 50s and the complete cast ranged from 14yrs to 90+!
Since then Paddy has been involved in three projects. The first was a scheme called Living Letters whereby young people exchanged letters with older people in the community talking about their lives. Paddy and Elsie helped in piloting the correspondence with two of the Young Company.
Then Paddy and Elsie joined up with 15 of the over 50s in Turning the Tide which captured the experience they had during Covid. They had shared aspect of their lives linked with particular pieces of music in their own version of Desert Island Discs. The deep sharing which resulted was a very bonding experience.
Recently Paddy took part in Lost Records, a joyful festival of favourite songs over the years showing how hearing them rekindles memories.