Redbridge swimmer and theatre company founder dies on 50th wedding anniversary

A gold-medal-winning master swimmer and theatre company founder died while celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary on board a cruise liner.

Paul Alvarez, 77, was travelling around the Canary Islands when he suffered a heart attack on the evening of his golden wedding anniversary after performing his favourite ballroom dance with his wife, Frances, 71.

The couple, who lived in Newbury Park for 41 years before moving to Wyatts Green Lane in Brentwood, were well known in the community.

They set up their own theatre company, Vortex, which regularly put on productions at the Kenneth More Theatre, Oakfield Road, Ilford.

Paul was also one of the founding members of the Redbridge Swimmers, who championed the reopening of Ilford swimming pool, in High Road, Ilford.


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Mrs Alvarez said: “He was a very good master swimmer and had won a number of gold medals, which he was very proud of. The theatre company was our baby and we used to be heavily involved, from the scriptwriting and acting to costume.”

The couple had two sons, Mark, 47 and Grant, 45. Grant inherited his parents’ creative streak and regularly organised museum exhibitions for the Central Library in Ilford. Paul was an acting deputy headteacher before taking early retirement to concentrate on swimming and acting.

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Mrs Alvarez added: “Paul was a very energetic person and people were amazed when I told them what happened, because he was so fit until the end.”

Former Kenneth More Theatre general manager Vivyan Ellacott said: “I knew Paul for many years through the theatre and he was a fine actor, but it was his sheer generosity of spirit which I found amazing. He was always willing to help others out.

“He was in love with the theatre and was always so enthusiastic, which inspired others to get involved.”

John Sharrock, chairman of community group Barkingside 21, said: “He was a well-respected and important member of the community and he would never shy away from getting involved, particularly in Redbridge Swimmers.

“He was the backbone of the group and he was well known throughout the area.”

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