Messages & Memories From RoCo Members
Memories and messages from past RoCo members, in commemoration of the society's  60th Anniversary.
Included in the programme for our November 2023 panto, The Return Of The Ring, a number of past RoCo members were able to write up some memories of their time and experiences with the society, to mark the occasion of our 60th anniversary. Here they are, featured below;
Congratulations , RoCo, on this wonderful anniversary. RoCo has a special place in my heart as I saw my future husband, Tony, for the very first time, playing the waiter in Mystery at Greenfingers.  The rest is RoCo Romance History! Love from, Elizabeth Breckin

Being part of RoCo was an indescribable experience, so much so that I can't pick a 'favourite' production because they were all exceptional in many ways - trying to 'sikes' myself up outside the church one night for my entrance as Bill Sykes in 'Oliver!' and accidentally terrifying someone who was walking their dog; going very ad-lib as 'Dame' in Cinderella (to the horror of Madame Director!)... I've met such fantastic, life-long friends through this society, and it’s brought so much joy! Happy 60th RoCo, Chris Hoyle

Dear RoCo cast and crew, break a leg on your 60th anniversary panto! May you remember all your lines, make all your entrances count, milk your ‘he’s behind you’s’ and for the good of your health NEVER upset the producer! With love from Stella Dobson (actor and producer once (never again!!) since 2006)

Hearty congratulations to RoCo on their Diamond Anniversary - what a pity our dear father and co-founder Alan Johnson is no longer with us to raise a toast in celebration of a fantastic 60 years of staging such a wide variety of brilliant plays for our community’. Lynda, Paul, Simon, Julian & Sally Johnson 

Still massively miss my Roco family and have great memories of my time there. From running round the church in a wedding dress in a show to multiple attempts to suppress the onstage giggles and meeting some amazing people! Good luck to everyone performing in the panto - wish I could be up on stage with you! Happy 60th RoCo!!! Lots of love, Sarah Merrifield xxx

Happy 60th Anniversary RoCo! It only feels like yesterday we were in rehearsals for Oliver, and then the Sound of Music. Running around to get into positions outside the church in a blizzard the first night of Sound of Music, or trying to keep on top of my Uni work whilst we were rehearsing for Oliver. I'm so excited to be coming back to watch you all, and I know the panto is going to be fabulous! Break a leg! Eley Davill x

Congratulations to the entire RoCo team for your production of another classic RoCo pantomime! All of your hard work, preparation and commitment means that amazing productions like this have happened for the past 60 years! I am so proud to have been part of the RoCo family over the years and I can’t wait to see you all shine on that stage! Break a leg! Lorna McGarvie

RoCo was a very active part of the church and I was grateful that the Society was prepared to expand its repertoire to include first the pantomimes and then to give support to the musicals that we put on. Both these ventures involved large numbers of the congregation and were hugely successful, I think that what made these special was that they drew upon the gifts and talents of people in the church. Whether that was scripts from Sheila Telfer and Andrea Varnavides, musical arrangements from Una Robertson or the huge cast of characters from within the congregation, on stage, in the orchestra, choir and backstage. I will particularly remember after the performance of Magnificat; the visitor who remarked that she had enjoyed it but she had thought that it was going to be about cats! I also remember that in putting on the first musical we took a huge risk with costs in the region of £1,500 which we subsequently recovered from ticket sales with some relief. It is the willingness to take risks that keeps any organisation, be that church or dramatic society, alive and relevant, Thank you RoCo for the memories and long may you continue to entertain and encourage! Rev David Grosch-Miller

RoCo is a really special group. It's been a while since we have been involved (due to moving away), but we have nothing but amazing memories and lovely friendships with its members. RoCo came at a time in our lives when we needed a hobby and something to look forward to. The members of Roco welcomed us warmly and we were instantly part of the family. They rallied around us when we needed it and gave us plenty of laughs and giggles to distract us. The plays and shows boosted our confidence and gave us joy. We made friendships that we would never have made without it, with people of all ages and backgrounds. Our lives have been richer for it. Richard in particular, developed confidence and skill that grew with each part he was given and the belief that Roco members had in him. His Von Trapp remains legendary! The panto was really special as it was Kate's first bigger leading role (as Aladdin). She loved every minute. We really hope that the cast of the panto enjoy every moment. We are excited to bring our children to it this year and introduce them to some members of the RoCo family. Break a leg! Love Richard and Kate Mace

In 2006, when I interviewed Rev Geoffrey Tillison about his years as minister to what was then Roundhay Congregational Church, between 1961 - 1968, he told me that the three initiatives of which he was most proud were: consolidating the Every Person Challenge; establishing the church at Wigton Moor; and the formation of RoCo. Geoffrey (31) and his wife Dorothy, (28) were already very involved in amateur dramatics at their respective home churches, so when he realised that several suggestions for a church Drama Group to hold play readings had been made in the first EPC returns, this was, as he put it, ‘Music to our ears.’ A proposal to do this was made in the church magazine in September 1961 ‘If enough support was forthcoming.’ It evidently was, as on 11 July 1962 a meeting at The Manse elected officers and a committee. The plan was to be ready with a play when the much delayed Memorial Hall was finally opened and a suitable stage available. In January 1963 Mystery at Greenfingers, produced by the enthusiastic Marion Haselhurst, with Dorothy as Miss Marple, was performed, even though a permanent stage was unavailable. By April 1963 the name RoCo, being a combination of the first letters of Roundhay and Congregational, had been suggested by Michael Beard, one of the young people involved, and duly adopted. RoCo has been going strong ever since, carried along by enthusiastic church members and local people, and now celebrates its Diamond Jubilee. Geoffrey and Dorothy were present at the Golden Jubilee ten years ago and would be so pleased and proud that RoCo is still a significant and vibrant organisation. Gillian Figures