Jeff started puppetry having been impressed by the late Harry Corbett on The Sooty Show. He was fascinated with the amount of dexterity that Harry had in operating Sooty. Jeff’s first puppet was a pig called Piggy aka Superpig. He had wanted a Pinky the pig from the Pinky and Perky puppets TV series, but they weren’t available where he lived. He and his sister performed puppet shows for their friends in the back garden of their home, using a blanket over the washing line as a stage. He is also a fan of The Tingha and Tucker Club, The Basil Brush Show, The Muppet Show and other puppet TV shows.
His favourite character from The Tingha and Tucker Club is Willie Wombat. All the puppets in The Tingha and Tucker club were based on Australian wildlife. Jean Morton hosted each episode and as well as doing in studio sketches, also travelled to external locations with the puppets including overseas. When his home church Elim Lighthouse in Bicester were planning a family service, he got together with a friend and performed a Sooty show. His friend Margaret helped with operating the puppets and was also the voice of Soo.
After moving away to get married Jeff had the opportunity to join a puppetry team at Milby church which he had joined, as this was his wife’s church prior to their wedding. Jeff then discovered One Way UK Puppetry training events and has been attending various venues including NCF Church for training over the years prior to COVID. Then, after that church closed, Kathy and Jeff joined NCF Church. During the first service they went to the minister and asked for ideas for children’s ministry work. He presented Nik the minister with the idea of having a children’s ministry which involved teaching them puppetry, and then performing what they had learnt in church.
This became The Lighthouse Puppetry team, which was a good size to start with, but has dwindled over the years as the members grew up and moved away. They would visit other churches and some schools performing puppetry. Some of his team would go to the One Way UK training events as well. However, for the last few months it’s now just Jeff doing the Puppetry on his own. During which time he has continued to present a variety of songs and sketches using hand puppets and rod & arm puppets.