29 January 1916 - 18 February 2007
Dick was my first influence in the world of the amateur theatre. I attended classes run by Dick himself, his daughter Christine, and various other members of his team, in around 1974. My first performance was as a child in the Victorian slums in Promoted to Glory - a dramatisation of the life and work of William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army.
At the Adult Education Centre in Greenleaf Road, there were three drama groups: the Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday classes. The Tuesday class was where one progressed after the "junior" classes at Dick's school in Orford Road, and here I remember with great fondness my part in A Christmas Carol in December 1975. Dick, naturally, played Scrooge (I was Scrooge's little sister in the Christmas Past sequence), and I still recall my great excitement and joy at taking part in this lovely show.
I was also enchanted by Willow Cottage - an open air theatre created by Dick and his family out of an old marl-pit in the grounds of the seventeenth century cottage and the most beautiful gardens I've ever seen. I took part in several shows between 1974 and 1978: The Snow Queen, The Tempest, Alice in Wonderland and The Winter's Tale. Willow Cottage is still going strong, hosting theatrical events each summer, together with Dick's Day, usually in early summer - a day to enjoy the gardens and the theatre at their best.
Here are two beautiful obituaries: one written for The Guardian by his widow, Christine Williams, and the other for The Stage by John Spradbery. PDF versions have been saved here: The Guardian and The Stage.