THE show must go on for Bill Paul who has been with Lochgelly and District Amateur Musical Association for a period spanning eight decades.

While he's standing down as president after 23 years in the role, he's finishing on a high note – no mean feat for a man with a deep bass voice – and will continue his love affair with the stage.

Bill, 84, from Lochgelly, said his association with LADAMA began behind the scenes in 1956 and is ongoing, he was front of house this week as the group completed a successful four-night run of the hit musical Chess last night.

He recalled: "My parents, Nell and Willie, were founder members in 1935 so people always assumed I'd end up there too.

"But I was never going to join! I said 'No way, give me a ball and a bike and I'm happy, I don't want to go on stage'.

"I eventually changed my mind when I saw all the people involved and how much they enjoyed the show."

Current president Ross Hadden, at a presentation to mark Bill's retirement from the role, said he had it on "good authority" that Bill had only joined when he discovered there were "lots of girls".

Reminded of that by the Times, Bill chuckled: "Well, yeah, that could be right."

He's been with LADAMA for an incredible 65 years and his first time on stage was in 1957 in the Vagabond King.

Apart from his two years in the RAF for national service – he went on to work as a compositor (type setter) for the Lochgelly Times and then the Dunfermline Press – he's been involved in every show since.

He even met Margaret, who became his wife in 1969, through LADAMA when they were both in the Student Prince.

Together they've clocked up more than 120 years of service and she is now secretary and treasurer of their youth theatre group.

Bill said: "The music is the number one thing for me. I loved being on stage, playing different parts, the applause and people saying you did a good show.

"I've been a gangster, a thug, a pirate and a bucketman, in two shows I was killed and in three I was put in prison!

"I loved playing baddies, if the audience booed me I always thought 'I'm doing well here'!"

Known to burst into song at any given moment, Bill lists 'Old Man River' from Showboat and 'A Little Bit of Luck' and 'I'm Getting Married in the Morning' from My Fair Lady as the songs he loves to sing the most.

He continued: "I did enjoy the bucketman in My Fair Lady, as it was a comedy role, but my favourite was Jud Fry in Oklahoma, it's my favourite musical too.

"It's the fact that the character is entirely different, there's no-one else like him on stage.

"I've seen it done by professionals a few times and amateur groups too and used to watch someone else playing Jud and see if they were doing it better than me.

"I was once told by someone who was very well up in Kelty Musical Association that I was the best Jud Fry they'd ever seen so that's good enough for me!"

There have been plenty of memorable moments, not least when a Prime Minister almost brought the curtain down on a show.

In the best traditions of the theatre, Bill recalled that the show had to go on when then Tory premier John Major called a snap general election in 1992.

That led to a double booking issue as LADAMA's venue for their performance of Brigadoon, the centre in Kelty, was needed to count votes there on the Thursday night.

Bill laughed: "We wrote a letter to John Major saying that Brigadoon is a mythical Scottish village that only appears once every 100 years. Surely you can out your election back a week or two and not disrupt our show.

"We actually got a letter back from his PA that said we're fully aware that Brigadoon is a mythical Scottish village that only appears once every 100 years but we feel if we put this election back it'll be 100 years before we get back in power!

"It made all the front pages of the newspapers and we sold out the rest of the shows."

Although Bill is stepping down as president and his time on stage is over, he's still involved and the Paul dynasty is continuing.

His son, Graeme, has been involved behind the scenes for 20 years while granddaughters Rachael and Erin have taken to the stage in theatre school in the Little Mermaid and as part of the main cast in Wizard of Oz and Evita.

Asked what advice he would give to someone thinking about treading the boards, Bill said: "Just do it, enjoy yourself and be happy about everything you're doing. I did."