7th May, 2021

Retirement prompts former Worcestershire magistrate to turn his attention to playwriting

Rob George 11th Apr, 2021

A FORMER Worcestershire magistrate has embarked on two radical shifts in his career after being forced to leave the bench two months ahead of schedule.

Keith Stokes-Smith was due to retire on May 26, 2020 but found himself sitting for the last time in early March before hearings were reduced owing to the pandemic.

As sad as he was to leave the magistracy without even a goodbye to all his colleagues, his leaving and the pandemic did create an unexpected gift of extra time at home.

Keith was therefore able to tackle the question of what a retired magistrate should do after rising for the final time. Golf? Long country walks? Reflections on the cases and the people who have come before him?

For Keith, retirement offered the chance to pursue his personal interests, one of which was amateur play writing.

“I have been writing plays for some years, initially monologues but decided to branch out a few years back,” he said.

“Most remain in a drawer, some still hand-written, but in April I found more time to give to one or two of them.”

His play, a comedy entitled ‘Jilted’ is now in print while Keith has been quick to seize on the literary potential of the national lockdowns because of Covid.

‘It’s a Lockdown’ and the festive version ‘Christmas Lockdown’ await refinement according to the retired court chief.

“Whether any of them will ever see the stage of a local amateur drama group is yet to be seen but I enjoy writing them,” he said.

Any local drama groups who wish to take a peek at Jilted, a one-act farce which tells the tale of John, the hapless groom ditched on his wedding day, can e-mail Keith on plays@wickestate.co.uk for more.

Away from the stage, the extra time at home also enabled Keith to launch a second chapter of his retirement, a funeral verse website in partnership with the University of Worcester.

“I did not plan to create this site nor to write funeral verses” said Keith.

“I lost my mother in 2016 and within days after her funeral I found myself writing verse after verse over the months and indeed years which followed.

“Unintentionally, I found myself writing them as if the deceased was the author writing what they would want to say at their own funeral with most of their content being both non-religious and humorous.

“Now, with the help of the students from the University of Worcester, I have made those verses available to all,” he added.

Visit www.myfinalwords.co for more.

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