He’s known in the business as The Spotlight Man and has worked with legends of the entertainment world for over half a century.

In the Railway Telegraph pub where Linford Hudson is a regular, fellow drinkers will be unaware they are sitting next to a stalwart of the theatre world who has just been awarded a prestigious Olivier Award for his outstanding contributions to British theatre.

Linford was presented with the accolade by  musical theatre impresario  Andrew Lloyd Webber for his long service at the London Palladium for his work as a  Follow Spot Operator. Over the years he has met all the stars Julie Andrews, Ginger Rogers, Carmen Miranda, Carrie Fisher, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Sammy Davis Junior, Liza Minnelli and the list goes on, a roll call of true showbiz legends including Josephine Baker, Bette Davis and Ella Fitzgerald. And he has stories about most of them.

Now in his 70s Linford’s amazing story started in Jamaica where he was born moving in 1962 aged 15 to join his mother in South Norwood. There, he watched Sunday Night at the Palladium, the variety show broadcast for television from the theatre. So when he spotted an advert for a pageboy, he knew it was for him but when he grew too big to be a pageboy, the theatre’s management asked him what he wanted to do? He said the spotlights. Initially the lighting manager said he didn’t want him on his team because of racism but another manager stepped in.

The Thornton Heath grandfather worked on over 40 Royal Variety performances; set up the lights in Westminster Abbey for Princess Diana’s funeral and lit Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th birthday party at the Royal Albert Hall. During 1990 to 2009 he shone the spotlight on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oliver, The King and I, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Sound of Music to name a few.

Fellow spot operator Guy Martin Aldridge, said: “It is lovely to see this kind of thing happening for one of the unsung heroes of theatre and a true living legend. He was my mentor and boss 36 years ago in my second professional job in theatre, and I still work with him on a number of projects.”