Christopher Naylor, universally known as Tink and one of Sheffield Theatres’ most easily recognised, professionally reliable and personally supportive personalities, has died in the Northern General Hospital at the age of 46.
Although employed as a lighting technician working on hundreds of shows in the Lyceum and Crucible for more than 20 years, Tink was also to be seen pushing Music in the Round’s Steinway grand piano into place in the Crucible Studio or meeting the demands of the World Snooker Championships.
If he could work in theatre, he would do anything.
He relished the innovative Studio productions of actor and director Richard Wilson, the pair competing to find South Yorkshire’s best Eccles cakes during rehearsals for Krapp’s Last Tape, by Samuel Beckett. Sadly Tink never saw it.
He came to the Crucible via the Youth Theatre, was employed as a casual until 2001 when a staff job followed studies at Sheffield College for a qualification in electrical installation.
Tink’s nickname came from the audible number of chains and piercings about his person. In the revelry of theatre workers, in an impressive range of Sheffield hostelries after the public had gone home, he took no persuading to reveal some of the more discreet locations of his piercings.
Sheffield Theatres’ former chief executive Grahame Morris confessed to fearing Tink might “be trouble” when he joined an organisation suffering from low investment and poor morale in the late 1990s: “How completely wrong could I be! Was there ever a nicer, more honest man? One of the genuine heroes of the theatres’ story who deserved – and got – the total respect and affection of colleagues and managers.”
The theatres’ head of lighting Gary Longfield started work alongside Tink in 1998, later becoming his immediate boss, commented: “I wasn’t sure what to make of him at first with his dark glasses and dreadlocks most of the way down his back, combat trousers with pockets full to the brim, and the smell of patchouli following behind him. A lesson for me not to judge by appearances.”
Following his death on July 8, a Facebook Remembrance page had attracted 300 posts within two hours from a huge circle of friends, family (parents Barrie and Christine live in Netherthorpe) and current or former professional colleagues, perhaps unusually, in all departments of theatre and beyond, a Dutch referee commenting that he would always be remembered by the family of snooker.
A celebration at the Crucible will follow Monday’s funeral at 12.45pm at City Road and there will be many quotations of his celebrated “Tinkisms” - notably his way of starting a drinking session with the cry: “Up yer flaps!”
l Any donations should be made to the Northern General kidney unit.