Batley Variety Club’s Betty Corrigan dies

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Betty Corrigan, the woman who helped put Batley on the map with its famous Variety Club, has died.

Icons including Shirley Bassey, Roy Orbison, Lulu, Louis Armstrong and hundreds more performed in the town after she and husband James Corrigan opened the Bradford Road venue in 1967.

James and Betty Corrigan at home with family friend Eartha Kitt.

James and Betty Corrigan at home with family friend Eartha Kitt.

She passed away on Friday after a stay in Bridlington Hospital. She is thought to have been her early 80s.

Former general manager of Batley Variety Club Allan Clegg knew Betty all her life after growing up with her on Oaks Road.

He said: “She was tremendous. If she thought something would work she made it work. She had the drive to make things work.

“I was treated like a son by them. If I fell out with one I was in trouble with the other. There was never a dull moment.”

It was Betty who decided on The Bachelors as the band who would open the club on its first night.

Over the years, famous friends including Eartha Kitt, Roy Orbison and Lulu stayed with the Corrigans at their house on Oaks Road, which Mr Clegg helped build.

“When you look back and think of things, it’s hard to believe. But they were ordinary people like me and you,” said Mr Clegg.

“Louis Armstrong was tremendous. I spent a fortnight with him. He was a really nice gentleman.”

James and Betty had two sons, Jason – who died some years ago – and Jamie.

The couple eventually parted and Betty later lived in Scarborough.

Mr Corrigan died in 2000, aged 74.

Batley Variety Club was transformed into the Frontier in the early 1980s.

Mr Clegg, 74, of Selso Road, Dewsbury, said he now wants to get a street name or building in Batley named after the Corrigans to highlight their importance to the town.

“Without them, Batley would have still been not known,” he said.

“You used to have to say ‘Batley, near Leeds’. After the Variety Club, I could go anywhere and say ‘I’m from Batley’ and they knew where you were. And that’s not just in this country, it’s all over the world.

“I don’t want her to be forgotten. They were both good friends.”