Multi-talented Willstrop wins best actor award

James Willstrop was named best actor for that part  at the Wharfedale Festival of Theatre awards.
James Willstrop was named best actor for that part at the Wharfedale Festival of Theatre awards.

The career of Pontefract Squash Club’s James Willstrop has had many highlights.

Winning the World Masters in Delhi at the end of 2011 saw him become the world number one for almost the whole of 2012,the same year that he was named world player of the year.

He has won such prestigious tournaments as the Tournament of Champions in New York, The Hong Kong Cathay Pacific Classic and the Qatar Classic in Doha as well as 16 others.

Other achievements include being three times a member of the England team that won the World Team Championships, world junior champion in 2002 and the most successful British junior ever.

He won the first ever China Open in Shanghai and more recently, despite virus problems, his win over world number one Mohammed el Shorbagy in Seattle at the World Championships last November was voted PSA’s match of the season in 2015-16, Willstrop winning 3-1.

His professional squash career led to his success as an author when his book ‘Shot and a Ghost’ became the first ever self-published book to be shortlisted for the William Hill sportsbook of the year. It was not ghost written, which led to him being nominated for the best new young writer of the year.

He was a columnist for the Yorkshire Evening Post for many years and and now for The Guardian.

Now in the close season, he has found time to return to acting, having played Joseph in Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat as a pupil at Ackworth School.

He has just completed a week as the Bingley Little Theatre as Andy in Brassed Off, a part made famous by Ewan McGregor.

Prior to that he played Captain Stanhope in Journey’s End at Adel Players, a tragic World War One drama, in a performance described by one critic as mesmerising.

Last Saturday, Willstrop was named best actor for that part at the Wharfedale Festival of Theatre Awards, a tribute to the first class theatrical members at Adel and Bingley and an award that, for him, will doubtless rank with his sporting achievements.