FORMER banker and member of Wimborne Musical Theatre, Christopher George 'Chris' Allen, has died at the age of 77.

Christopher was born in Bradford upon Avon in 1940 and to many people in later life he was known as 'The Wiltshire Gentleman'. He was the only son of Fred and Vi Allen and lived in Winsley Road next door to his cousin John and they grew up like brothers, attending school together and singing in the church choir with their father.

"He was head choirboy at Bradford C of E and his love of singing followed through the rest of his life. His only regret was becoming a bass when he would have much preferred to have been a tenor," said Patricia Lange, his partner for the last 25 years.

Up to the age of eight he spent most of his time in hospital as he was born with no anklebone on his left foot and following this the leg was removed below the knee. Despite his disability his school days were very happy and he was regularly a valued member of the cricket team with a runner to assist his skill as a batsman.

On leaving school he started a 35 year career in banking with the Nat West culminating in being Assistant Manager of Nat West Wimborne, where his pleasant warm manner made him popular with many of his customers. Even after his retirement at the age of 52, following the 'computer age' changes, until he died, he was often greeted by past customers on the streets of Wimborne.

Christopher was also well known for his many appearances on stage with the Broadstone Light Operatic, later known as Wimborne Musical Theatre Society, at the Barrington Theatre, Ferndown and more recent years at the Tivoli in Wimborne.

"He played many lovely parts, including Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado as the Mikado, and Curly in Oklahoma. His favourite song 'Oh, What A Beautiful Morning' epitomised his personality to a 't' as well as his rendering of 'Old Man River' in his distinctive bass voice at concerts," said Pat.

Apart from his membership with the Musical Society of which he also became the treasurer, he assisted Patricia in various 'front of house' activities for the annual summer Brownsea Open Air Theatre event. His friendly greeting to patrons and cast on Poole Quay when boarding the boat for the Brownsea Island performances will long be remembered.

Many described him as a 'typical English Gentleman' with his positive and happy approach to life and he is unlikely to be forgotten by his many friends and family.

Christopher died at Poole Hospital on April 15 and his funeral was held at St John's Church, Broadstone on May 3. He is survived by his partner Patricia Lange, his children Robert, Elizabeth and Mark and their grandchildren.