Penny Henry obituary

<span>Penny Henry in the 1980s. She worked at the Hacienda club from its opening night in 1982.</span><span>Photograph: Dimitri Griliopolous</span>
Penny Henry in the 1980s. She worked at the Hacienda club from its opening night in 1982.Photograph: Dimitri Griliopolous

My friend Penny Henry, who has died aged 76 of kidney failure, was embedded in the life of Manchester and its vibrant music scene of the 1970s and 80s. She worked at the Hacienda club from its opening in 1982, and for almost 50 years lived on the ground floor at 86 Palatine Road, where Factory records was founded in 1978 and run from the upstairs flat. Penny later trained and worked for more than 25 years as a reflexologist.

One of the unsung women behind the scenes in the early days of the Hacienda, Penny was one of the more experienced employees brought in for the opening of the club by Howard “Ginger” Jones. As well as working front of house, she could be found up on the leaking roof replacing slates, or dealing with overflowing toilets when the canal behind the club flooded. After two years of helping to keep the building functioning against the odds, when Penny had a gun held to her head in a robbery one Monday morning, it was time to move on.

Born in London, to Irene (nee Clark) and Herbert Henry, both civil servants, Penny spent her early years in Islington. After the family moved to Sussex, she attended Ilfield grammar school in Crawley then took an art foundation course in Worthing. Arriving in Manchester in 1969 to go to the School of Art, Penny did not leave the city until 2021, when she moved to Ledbury, Herefordshire, to care for her mother.

I met Penny in the mid-70s, when both our boyfriends were in the same band, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias. Tall, beautiful, interesting, Penny brought style and flair to everything she did.

Penny left art school before graduation when she became pregnant with her son, Ben. Ben’s father, David Ward, was part of his life, but Penny raised her son as a single parent. It was tough for her, but she was proud to see Ben become a barrister and a deputy director of Human Rights Watch.

In 1984 she took over from her friend Elliot Rashman (who left to manage Simply Red) as entertainments manager at Manchester Polytechnic (now Manchester Metropolitan University).

Wherever she worked, including with the pioneering co-operative On the Eighth Day from 1972, for the music promoters Alan Wise and Roger Eagle at Rafters and the Russell Club (1977-82), and at the clothes shop Zouk (1987-93), Penny made friends and supported her colleagues, particularly women. Her nurturing side led to an interest in complementary therapies and in the mid-90s Penny trained and qualified as a reflexologist.

Penny loved her allotment and knitted throughout her life, giving away her creations to friends.

She is survived by Ben and two grandchildren, Jackie and Link, and by a brother, John.