Blackpool bingo caller retires after 21 years

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Bingo calls like “legs” (11) or “two little ducks” (22) were retired from UK bingo many years ago, and yesterday marked the retirement of another British bingo legend: Dave Freeland.

Dave had been a bingo caller at Blackpool’s Empire Bingo Hawes Side Lane since 1995, but called “eyes down” for the last time yesterday.

“You’ve got to be clear and concise when you’re calling numbers,” he told the Blackpool Gazette.

“Also you’ve got to be aware of what people are doing in the hall; if they’re shouting for a claim, sticking their hand up because they’re meant to shout if they have a claim but a lot of them don’t.

“So you’ve got to be very aware of people who don’t shout out. “Luckily I haven’t had many mistakes.”

The Empire’s faithful regulars will miss Dave, including 104 year old Martha, who always sits behind him and once knitted him Liverpool FC decorated gloves.

“We’ll really, really miss him, he’s a great guy,” explained the Empire’s owner, Elaine Bottomley.

“The mind’s willing but the body’s weak,” says Dave. “It’s hard to get up in the winter mornings, I hate winter, waiting for the bus in the rain and getting wet through. If it’s summer, fine. So you never know, you might see me back in the summer!”

“I’ve got to be grateful for Elaine and Linzie for employing me and keeping me on, it’s been appreciated. It’s just been great and as long as I can bring pleasure and joy to all these customers, that’s the main thing.”

Like any experienced bingo caller, Dave has seen his share of mammoth wins, including one £100,000 win for Harry Russell on the national game.

Dave may not have worked in the era of traditional bingo calling, but his retirement is an end of another important era nevertheless.

And perhaps Dave will change his mind after all when warmer weather returns. Says owner Elaine, “I think he’ll miss the rapport with the crowd.”

Photo by Rob Lock

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