This year sees the 25th anniversary of the introduction of Southport’s famous ‘Meet and Greet’ for groups – better known as the ‘Southport Welcome’ – and Wendy Wright has been at the heart of things right from the start. As the only member of the original team, this year she’ll celebrate a quarter of a century as a Coach Welcome Host…

But although Wendy is well known to visitors, she’s been a familiar face to the people of Southport since the 1960s when she first appeared as a Bunny Girl at the Kingsway Club, a major entertainment venue in the town. As a dancer, Wendy shared the limelight with the A-listers of the day, including The Beatles, Cilla Black, Engelbert Humperdink, Tom Jones and Norman Wisdom. “Norman was my favourite,” says Wendy. “He was a lovely man.”

The Kingsway Bunny Girls had a hectic schedule.  “We used to learn the routines on the Sunday for the rest of the week. A new routine every week. It was hard work, but fun, and we used to meet all the stars.”

In 1965, Wendy also appeared in panto with Morecambe and Wise at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre as the understudy to the female lead in a production of ‘Sleeping Beauty’. “It was a lot of fun,” she says. “I did all the rehearsals with them. There was a lot of ad-libbing with them. I also appeared with Ken Dodd when he was at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool.”

2019 not only sees Wendy’s 25th anniversary, but also sees another significant milestone in group travel to the town. “Each year, Southport welcomes around 4,000 coaches that come to the town on day trips, short breaks and longer holidays,” says Steve Christian, Destination Development Manager with Visit Southport. “Our records don’t go back to 1994, but what we do know is that looking at the last 10 years, 2019 looks set to see our two millionth visitor arriving by coach. Wendy’s enthusiasm and commitment have played a significant role in making Southport an attractive destination for groups. Later in the year we will be celebrating her anniversary and our two millionth visitor.”

For more information about group visits to Southport, and the ‘Southport Welcome’, go to www.visitsouthport.com