A GRANDFATHER at the helm of an amateur dramatics society is bringing the curtain down on his glittering career after 35 years.

Peter Jones, 85, of the Weavers, Lawn, is stepping down as president of Swindon Amateur Light Operatic Society after three decades providing support, helming the productions and raising money for charity.

The father of three and grandfather of eight considered his decision for six months, deciding to step down to give another individual a chance in the spotlight.

“I’d done enough,” he said. “I thought it was time that somebody else had the opportunity to replace me.

“I’m not saying I was unbeatable - I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.”

The former managing director, who has lived in the town since 1959, first joined SALOS for a production of Carousel in 1979.

On his first night Peter admits to feeling the pressure: “I felt timid, I felt nervous. I remember giving [current president] Alan Wrixon an engagement present, so it was a while back.”

Throughout his presidency, Peter juggled treading the boards with his building business, acting as a Chief Magistrate and raising money for charity, including the Thamesdown Hydrotherapy Pool.

Peter’s highlights include his first opening night, the electricity memorably shutting off for 15 minutes during a performance and watching Alan master balancing a bottle on his head in Fiddler on the Roof – which he cites as his favourite production.

He will pass the presidency to Alan, who Peter has known since they battled it out on the cricket pitch 50 years ago.

And Peter’s long-standing friend said that Peter had effortlessly handled every situation that the 35 productions threw at him.

He added: “He is very modest but he has calmly and gracefully handled the job of president and I know he will be there to pass on his wisdom and help me out.”

Peter said the most important thing as president was to be there for the cast, and had some unusual advice for Alan. “I would say the most important thing is to have a waterproof right shoulder,” he added. “You have to be yourself and keep calm. That’s what makes a successful production.”

He will have his encore with SALOS in October when he attends their next show, Sister Act, to be performed at the Wyvern Theatre.

But as Peter exits stage left, he has some last advice for Alan saying: “Never give up, always be yourself, there’s no-one better suited for the job.”