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Tributes to leading light of Ilfracombe theatre

PUBLISHED: 14:22 22 January 2014 | UPDATED: 14:22 22 January 2014

Pamela Beecham as Mrs Cropley in The Vicar of Dibley.

Pamela Beecham as Mrs Cropley in The Vicar of Dibley.

Archant

Family and friends mourn the loss of inspirational Pamela Beecham, who passed away last week.

Pamela Beecham during her most recent birthday trip to London with daughters Rosie and Lucy. Pamela Beecham during her most recent birthday trip to London with daughters Rosie and Lucy.

A former Tiller Girl who inspired a love of dance and the theatre in generations of Ilfracombe and North Devon youngsters has been fondly remembered.

Pamela Beecham, an enthusiastic and motivational part of the local theatre scene for more than 30 years, passed away aged 69 on Tuesday of last week following a battle with motor neurone disease.

A memorial service will be held at Pip and Jim’s Church in Ilfracombe on Monday at 2pm, followed by a committal at Barnstaple Crematorium for family and close friends. Donations in lieu of flowers will go to the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Fittingly, a celebration of her life will be hosted at the Landmark Theatre from 3-8pm, with all invited to wear something bright, share a memory, tell a tale, or perform a song.

Pamela Beecham as Cardanza in Robin Hood the Musical. Pamela Beecham as Cardanza in Robin Hood the Musical.

Dance was in Pamela’s blood and aged 17 she went to the Royal Academy of Dance to train as a dance teacher, going on to join the famous Tiller Girls dance troupe, appearing on television and performing in troupes and variety acts across the globe.

A born performer, Pamela was never away from a stage for long and on moving to Ilfracombe with husband Geoffrey and daughter Rosie in 1980, soon became a central part of the amateur dramatics scene.

The arrival of their daughter Lucy in 1982 didn’t prevent her that year from setting up Ilfracombe Pantomime Society. In the next 17 years she wrote all the scripts, new lyrics for songs, choreographed dances, directed, designed costumes and chose music for 15 original pantomimes.

Pamela also found time to write, direct or choreograph numerous Victorian week shows, Christmas shows and productions with Barnstaple Musical Comedy Society.

Pamela Beecham with Gracie. Pamela Beecham with Gracie.

She directed or choreographed a host of musicals with Studio Theatre and Small Pond Productions, leading to a winning partnership with Lee Baxendale for Oliver, Annie Get Your Gun, Hello Dolly, My Fair Lady, Me and My Girl, Mack and Mabel.

A highlight all seem to remember is her dance solo during a Christmas show, with a whirlwind of spins and kicks that put the rest of the cast to shame.

Geoff sadly passed away in 2002, and Pamela’s main focus was always her family, Rosie and Lucy, then her beloved grandchildren Luke and Gracie.

“There have been so many comments and messages made over the last week from people who have said mum inspired their love of dance, theatre, or career and life choices,” said Lucy on behalf of the family.

Pamela Beecham on stage in Europe during her dance career. Pamela Beecham on stage in Europe during her dance career.

“People mainly think of her as talented, strong, adventurous, loving, humorous and witty. Her legacy lives on in her family but also all the people she has inspired in the theatre.”

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