Tribute concert to honour Geoff Kitchen after tragic incident on Singapore flight

A concert will be dedicated to the memory of a driving force in the local music and drama scene who died after severe turbulence on a Singapore Airlines flight. Geoff Kitchen a retired insurance clerk with a passion for the stage - suffered a suspected heart attack on the flight, according to a spokesman for Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, where the plane was diverted to.

The spokesman added that seven other people were seriously injured, with dozens more suffering minor injuries. Stephen Kitchen, Geoff's first cousin, told The Independent, he and his wife, Linda, had been looking forward to their six-week holiday together.

Speaking from his home in Chepstow, he said: "We were a bit shocked, I still am. I'm trying to touch base with Linda. I sent a message.

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"They were looking forward to the holiday. They are travellers, they do quite a lot of these things, quite adventurous. It was sort of going to be their last big holiday. It would have been nice to see them before they went. It was a tour around Asia."

In a Facebook post, Thornbury Musical Theatre Group said: "It is with a heavy heart that we learn of the devastating news of the passing of our esteemed colleague and friend Geoff Kitchen in the recent Singapore Air Incident.

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"Geoff was always a gentleman with the utmost honesty and integrity and always did what was right for the group. His commitment to TMTG was unquestionable and he has served the group and the local community of Thornbury for over 35 years, holding various offices within the group, including chairman, treasurer and most recently secretary.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and the family at this difficult time, and we ask that you respect their privacy." Mr Kitchen's wife was also on board the flight and is understood to be in hospital.

The theatre group said Mr Kitchen, 73, had been busy making scenery for their concert, Journey Back To The Future, being held on Friday May 31 (7.30pm), and Saturday, June 1 (2.30pm and 7.30pm) at Thornbury Methodist Church Hall and they would be dedicating the performance to his memory. The concert will feature songs from its 50-year repertoire.

Fellow member Steve Dimond said: "We will continue with the next show which will likely be done in his name. I'm really shocked, he'll be badly missed. He was a kind man who in recent years, after retirement, had loved the musical theatre."

Mr Kitchen had recently worked hard campaigning for the reopening of the town's Armstrong Hall, and he was well respected across the local community. His passion for musical theatre spilled well beyond organisational aspect of productions.

When interviewed in 2010 by the Western Daily Press, while playing the dame in the pantomime, in his own words he explained: "The dame is a fascinating role. There's never much competition for the dame when it comes up at audition very few blokes want to take it on."

He also took on the role of one of the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella with another society in Filton. He explained: "The Ugly Sister is almost like playing a baddie, but the trick to playing the dame is to realise that the audience has to love you the dame is generally one of the most endearing characters on the stage." A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) spokesperson said it was supporting the family and was in contact with local authorities.

Singapore Airlines said the flight encountered "sudden extreme turbulence" over Myanmar's Irrawaddy Basin at 37,000ft about 10 hours after departure, with the pilot declaring a medical emergency and diverting the plane to Bangkok.

One passenger on board Flight SQ321 to Singapore said the plane suffered a "dramatic drop", meaning people not wearing a seatbelt were "launched immediately into the ceiling".