Rodney Milton passed away on Sunday 12th April 1998 from a tragic abseiling accident. He will be sorely missed.
But at this time of parting, let us think not about our loss, but about our gain! To Rodney, let me raise a toast, a heartfelt rousing cheer for the honour of his friendship and the legacy he left eyone that he touched.
So how do you describe Rodney? I think it goes like this...
1. A born performer with a wit so quick,
2. A shining example of the Scouting ethic,
3. A loveable larrikin with a heart of gold,
4. Replacing Rodney? No. They broke the mould.
Rodney was an active member of the Scout Association, a member of 1st East Hills Rovers. He was a close friend, a long-standing member of the Gang Show, an integral part of the Production Team, but he was something else too ... and for this we will never forget him ... he gave of himself, in everything he did, he left a little part of himself in the task.
Everyone knows Rodney. If you asked a junior in the cast, "Who's this Rodney guy?". They'd say "Rodney?, he's the guy that makes us laugh!"
Rodney joined the Gang in 1983 as an 11 yr old junior. All I can remember is his spiky haircut, and his huge voice when he sang "And it rained all Saturday through" in that famous old Gang show number. But it was unmistakably Rodney - you see, even then, he had a zest for life and a grin from ear to ear.
I can even smile now as his pranks, his jokes, his infectious laughter come to mind. He could turn a quiet moment into an opportunity for a quick laugh when we needed it the most . And what more could you ask for? He played many comic roles in the show, and only some of them on stage. Perhaps it was his off-stage humour that was more important, more vital, more welcome than anybody would ever know.
But on stage, Rodney was in his element. He could do a comic German slap dance in one moment, play knuckles the boxer with perfect diction the next, then he'd line up for a solo in any one of the musical numbers in the show. But the one I'll always remember him for, is when he played Honey Bun in our South Pacific number. The sight of Rodney in a blond wig, a grass skirt and tattoos, is something you't easily forget. Especially, because several of the blokes in the cast wanted to ask him out. Ah yes, Rodney was indeed "101 pounds of fun".
He was always a larrikin with a huge smile, but his smile was never bigger than his heart. His quick wit, his enthusiasm and his love of Gang Show is an inspiration to us all.
Yes, we'll remember him fondly. And we will always do so with a smile on our lips and joy in our hearts, because that's the legacy he gave to all those whose lives he touched.
Thanks Rodney. To a good man, leader, companion, mentor and friend to so many, you will never be forgotten.
And could I finish with the words of the founder of Gang Show, Ralph Reader, who wrote the following words in his most famous of songs, "Who Wants to Say Goodnight", which Rodney sang as one of the soloists just before the finale in last years show. It goes like this :
1. But the evening's nearly over,
2. for the hours are taking flight,
3. And though it ends among such friends,
4. so warm and bright,
5. Who wants to say, Goodnight.
Rob Lang (1998)