Ken Dodd to open new Hope centre

Ken Dodd
Ken Dodd
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THE KING of the Diddymen is pointing his tickling stick at Wigan.

Tattyfilarious Liverpudlian comedy legend Ken Dodd has agreed to open the new community centre adjoining Hope special school, Marus Bridge, later this year.

His escape from the jam butty mines of Knotty Ash will make him only the latest in a list of top celebs – including top soap and sport stars – beating a path to Hope’s doors.

Previous VIP guests have included Coronation Street’s Bev Callard and Steven Arnold, ex-footballer Norman Whiteside and former world heavyweight boxing champs Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson (separately!).

Now 86, evergreen gagster Doddy has been in regular correspondence with Hope teacher Gill Davies, following a fluke meeting last year.

And he jumped at her recent invitation to cut the ribbon.

Gill met Doddy when, on a whim during a seasonal shopping expedition to Liverpool, she decided to attend the Christmas Eve carol concert at the city’s Anglican cathedral.

She worked her way to a seat at the front...next to two seats marked “Reserved.”

Moments before the start who should appear to plonk himself down in one of them but the comedy legend?

The pair soon struck up a conversation and Gill, who has been a teacher at Hope School for more than a quarter of a century, said she was bowled over by his charm and rapier wit.

When he learned of the passion that Gill has for the Special Educational Needs profession, he promised to help out in “whatever way I can.”

And the comic famed for his marathon shows, even as an octogenarian, has proved as good as his word.

Gill, 48, explained: “It must be fate because I had no plan to go into the cathedral and am not religious.

“But I decided on whim to look inside, realised that it was the carol concert and sat down at the front to listen.

“The reserved seats were for Ken and Cilla Black, who normally accompanies him but couldn’t this time, although I had no idea of that when I sat down.

“When he sat next to him I said, ‘Excuse me, are you Ken Dodd?’ which was a bit of a daft thing to say because he is so unmistakable, isn’t he?’

“We struck up a conversation and got on really well.

“The thing that strikes you about Ken is that her is so very, very humble, so full of fun and charm.

“I remember thinking afterwards I had never met such a nice and accommodating man before.

“People always tell that I could sell sand to the Arabs but he didn’t need much persuading to come along and do the honours at Hope.

“I sent him a letter inviting him and he came back to me saying that, because he was 86, could it be in the afternoon and he would like a cup of tea and a scone. As a home baker I will be more than happy to oblige.

“He is such an appropriate opener because there is that famous line in his song Happiness about not having silver and not having gold, but having instead happiness in your soul.

“That is just what I tell the kids I teach here at Hope.”