Tributes to actress who championed pantomime in East Devon and West Dorset

PUBLISHED: 07:01 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:41 16 January 2020

Lyme Pantomime Society president Bill Street presenting Shirley Colley with a volunteer of the year award for her services to the group. Picture David Cozens

Lyme Pantomime Society president Bill Street presenting Shirley Colley with a volunteer of the year award for her services to the group. Picture David Cozens

Archant

Sparkling final tributes have been paid to a doyen of the stage who championed pantomime in East Devon and West Dorset for more than 50 years.

Thanks for her life will be given at the funeral service in Lyme Regis Parish Church on Monday afternoon (January 20) for Shirley Colley who died in hospital on Christmas Eve at the age of 84.

Mrs Colley, widowed a few years ago, leaves a son and daughter and several grandchildren.

She first trod the boards as a teenager, after which she took leading roles before spearheading the reformation of Lyme Regis pantomime society in 1984 following a period of closure.

She won widespread acclaim for the brilliant costumes she made for the cast, winning several awards in the process.

Mrs Colley remained active with the society up until her death, on stage and as a committee member, being secretary for many years.

Former society chairman David Cozens paid tribute to Mrs Colley saying: "After devoting a lifetime to the local etertainment scene, it is obvious that we owe Shirley a tremendous debt of gratitude. But there are some debts which can never be repaid.

"Her outstanding involvement in all things theatrical is well documented.

"She is famed, respected and admired for her dedication and expertise in many areas of the performing arts, but most particularly pantomime as an outstanding champion of the local society for which over half a century she served in leading and supporting roles on stage as well as in administrative positions, including secretary and wardrobe mistress par excellence.

"Shirley's dedication to the society never waned, and she was still actively involved up until the time of her death.

"Shirley had every admiration and respect for the star performers, but at the end of the day it was teamwork and the quality of the show which mattered most to her.

"To this end, her brilliant expertise as a seamstress and the creation of stunning costumes were significant factors in keeping the society on the front foot. Her superbly dressed pantomimes won acclaim from NODA and from other societies far and wide."

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