Worthing Theatres: Tributes paid to long-standing team member who was part of its ‘fabric and heart’

Tributes have been paid to a champion of Worthing Theatres, a man described as part of its ‘fabric and heart’.

Sam McCarthy-Fox, who died on July 7 aged 76, will be remembered as a kind and humble man who was much loved by staff and customers alike.

He became part of the team in 1996 when his son Zachary was born. His second wife, Julia, was working front-of-house at the Connaught and when she went on maternity leave, two days before the birth, Sam took over her shifts temporarily.

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Julia said: “We never swapped back! Sam was in his element working in the theatre. I loved the job but he was passionate about it. He was a far greater asset to them than I was and they were lucky to have him.

Sam McCarthy-Fox was part of the 'fabric and heart' of Worthing Theatres. Picture Simon Dack / Vervate

“Basically, Sam was the face of Worthing Theatres - he was friendly and welcoming, and smiled at people, excellent attributes for working front-of-house.”

Sam was an only child, born in London in October 1944 while his dad was away at war. The family moved to Crawley when he was about 11.

Sam went on to volunteer front-of-house for the theatre in Horsham, where Julia worked for several years, and the pair moved to Worthing in 1994.

Julia said: “Sam was always happy working in any of the venues but the Connaught was his favourite. He loved the building, the atmosphere, the patrons, visiting performers - all of it.

Sam McCarthy-Fox at the British and World Marbles Championship at Tinsley Green in 2014. Picture: Jon Rigby

“He fitted in from the start and was popular with everyone. He had one of those affable personalities. He was kind, calm and gentle mannered and always treated everyone with respect. He was humble by nature and a good listener.

“He was also willing to pitch in and do whatever was needed. As one of the longest-serving members of staff, he knew more of the recent history of theatre in Worthing than most. He took charge of sorting through the theatre archives and was responsible for the lovely photo display in the crush foyer - he was really proud of that, with good reason.”

Worthing Theatres said the impact Sam made could not be overstated and he would be sorely missed.

“Known affectionately as ‘Mr Sam’, he was part of the fabric and heart of Worthing Theatres and Museum. The beautiful photo wall along the back wall of the Connaught Theatre was curated by Sam from his archive and stands as a monument to his dedication to the Connaught, a place he dearly loved.”

Sam was also well known as secretary to the British Marble Board of Control and organiser of the British and World Marbles Championship at Tinsley Green.

Julia said: “Over the past 40 years, the British and World Marbles Championship has gone from strength to strength, with Sam at the heart of it, and he was enormously proud of that.

“He was especially proud of how we were always able to include anyone in a team if they wanted to play on Good Friday and how we managed to maintain what was of utmost importance to him, the importance of tradition over competition, while running a world-renowned event.

“Our players vary from complete novices to those with decades of experience and Sam’s philosophy was always to make them all welcome and allow them all to play.”

Sam was passionate about everything to do with marbles and had a huge collection of more than 100,000 beautiful glass spheres. One year, he even appeared in the Guinness Book of Records sitting in a bathtub full of them.