David Gest was a regular visitor to St Helens, even hailing one of the town’s theatres as a hidden gem of Britain.
He regularly brought his live shows, which featured a star-studded line-up of soul singers, to the St Helens Theatre Royal and spoke fondly of his visits to the town.
In 2014, his last visit to St Helens, he told The St Helens Reporter how much he enjoyed visiting the town and described the Theatre Royal as one of Britain’s hidden theatrical gems.
“We love doing St Helens because we went there last year and the audiences are so enthusiastic and they love soul,” he said.
And he told how one visit caused quite a stir when he popped into the Hardshaw Centre for a cup of tea.
He recalled: “I was in St Helens recently because I had to go over to the theatre and I went into the shopping mall and there were people in a queue in a coffee shop and they had these lovely little cakes and I was like ‘I’m going off my diet’.
“I went in for a coffee and the people were just stopping and talking to me, and they were saying ‘We can’t believe you’re here’.
“I said why and they said ‘We don’t get that many celebrities in this mall. I said, ‘well, I’m here so let’s all come in and have tea and cakes.
“We had a great time last time. Chantelle (Nolan, theatre manager) is such a great host and she runs such a beautiful family theatre.
“You know, I think that theatre is one of the best kept secrets in the UK.
“St Helens should be very proud of that theatre, it’s got a great history and the audience really get into the music.”