MUCH-LOVED dancer and actor Andrew Spencer was a big character who brought a great sense of fun to the stage in Huddersfield.
After a national championship-winning dancing career was cut short by injury he transferred his desire to perform to the stage.
And yet behind this theatrical side he was a tough sportsman, playing rugby league for the Fartown Academy side and Moldgreen in his younger days.
In April he had played the role of Jacob the maid-come-butler in Huddersfield Light Opera Company’s production of La Cage Aux Folles at the LBT and had been due to play Cosmo in Huddersfield Amateurs Society’ Singing In The Rain in November.
Andrew, 33, died suddenly at the family home in Waterloo he shared with his parents, Ray and Lesley, on Sunday, July 6.
He was in the limelight right from his birth on May 10, 1975.
Ray had entered a competition to win a Silver Cross pram at the Schofields store in Sheffield when Lesley was pregnant. If you guessed the actual birth day, you won the pram; and he did!
The story appeared in local papers, including the Examiner.
Andrew was educated at Dalton Junior School and then Rawthorpe High.
He was the nephew of well-known Huddersfield dance teacher Audrey Spencer.
She inspired him to become the UK National Tap Dance Champion when he was just 17 and he competed in two world championships before going on to work as a professional dancer, often on cruise ships in the Caribbean.
He also toured in an Irish dance show called Spirit Of The Dance for many months.
Recurrent injury problems to his legs and ankles made him hang up the dancing shoes and he turned to amateur operatics.
He was a member of Huddersfield Light Opera Company and was renowned for his comic roles.
He also helped out many other operatic societies, including Lindley.
Andrew loved sport and in an interview with the Examiner in 2006 remembers in his youth playing rugby at 10am, football at 2pm and rehearsing for a show in Huddersfield at 5pm.
A rugby player and a tap dancer, a rare combination.
In that interview he recalled: “My dad was running me to a dance festival. I was still in my rugby kit. When we got there I dashed into the auditorium, washed my hands and face and went out and won my section.
“If the adjudicator had seen all the mud under my costume goodness knows what he would have thought.”
His humour was legendary; he was often the butt of quips from his rugby colleagues about his dancing, but it was water off a duck’s back.
He said: “I used to say to them ‘I play in a team with blokes and I get changed in the same room as a load of blokes. In a show I get changed in a room with a load of girls. What sounds good to you?’
And he needed those people skills in his job as an appeals officer for Kirklees Council, dealing with parking issues.
Andrew loved his amateur dramatics.
“I have a lot of friends in the amateur societies and it’s like being part of a big family,” he once said.
And he was more than a son to Ray.
Ray said: “We are very proud of Andrew and all he achieved. He was my son, yet we were more like mates and we will miss him so much.”
Andrew’s funeral took place this morning at Kirkheaton Parish Church.