Frank Graves 1929 – 2013

Frank was born in Uxbridge on 12th May 1929. He had 2 brothers. He went to school in Uxbridge too and by all accounts had a happy childhood. His family lived in this area throughout the war.

As he grew older and it was time to find work he decided to join the Royal Marines. His other option at this time was to work down the coal mines. His father wanted him to join the Marines on an officers commission but Frank refused as he wanted to join at the same level as everyone else and work his way up. He was later seconded to the Air Force and I know that during his service Frank saw action in Korea and was for a time held prisoner of war in dire conditions.

Later his army career saw him running the forces radio service in Aiden with Johnny Bierling who later went on to become Director General of BBC Radio 1. They had a close friendship, which spanned the years and their paths crossed again later when Frank left the forces and worked with none other than Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles doing promotional work for them. He worked promoting several other now well known household names around the same period too.

Later he started work for Chessington Circus / Zoo doing promotional work and his claim to fame during this period was a notorious trip to the BBC where they took a baby elephant in to show on Blue Peter. Some of you may remember the hilarious incident where John Noakes was live on TV with the elephant not entirely under control and standing heavily on his foot!

After Chessington, Frank started working for a company called Dytecna doing logistic work for them. In his spare time he was involved in Scouting and ran the Surbiton Gang Show and built up a great tradition with it for many years. In 1982 he started the Greater London South West County Gang Show, or Souwest as we now know it.

In 1988 Frank founded Younger Generation Theatre Group with their first show the following year. He wrote, directed, and ran the group like a military unit, his was the final word on all things YG. He was forced to retire due to ill health but continued his connection with the group as their president.

We know he was very proud of his time with both the Gang Show and the Younger Generation.

In his retirement, Frank still didn’t slow done. He decided to take up a new hobby, screenwriting and followed his dreams with a passion. He wrote many screenplays and as a result travelled to America to fine tune his craft attending screenwriting courses in Hollywood and LA. When one of his screenplays was filmed, he was admitted as a member to BAFTA and used to travel to London regularly to attend courses and meet new people. He never gave up following his dreams.

It was only when he hit ill health in later life and needed extra specialist care that he was forced to take things easier and he went into a retirement home. It is a shame that he was not here to see us receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, without Frank YG would never have happened, so although you are no longer with us you will forever live on through all past, present and future YG members.

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