10/10/07 - Joyce Smith

JOYCE Smith, of Tarran Way, a stalwart of Skegness's amateur dramatic scene, died on September 19 at the Cottage Hospital, Dorothy Avenue, aged 85.

Mrs Smith was born in Gainsborough in January 1922, the daughter of professional footballer Arthur Atkin, who played for Lincoln City, and his wife Grace. Along with her brother Maurice they soon moved to Skegness and took up residence in Sandbeck Avenue.

Educated at the Lumley School, she moved to Leicester at the outbreak of the Second World War to work in the factory producing Lancaster Bombers.

It was during one of her trips back to Skegness that she met her future husband, Frederick Smith, who was based at Butlins Holiday Camp which for the duration had been transformed into the Royal Navy Training camp HMS Royal Arthur.

They were married in November 1944 at St Mathew's Church, Skegness. Her eldest son Christopher was born in 1946, Raymond followed in 1951 and Martin in 1955.

Always keenly interested in theatre (she had toyed with the idea of becoming a dancer in her youth but the war intervened) Mrs Smith found an outlet for her talents when Johnny Johnston founded the Skegness Co-operative Arts Group.

She became a founder member playing such parts as Clementina in The Desert Song, Bloody Mary in South Pacific and Fruma Sara in Fiddler on the Roof as well as choreographing many of the shows.

Later when she joined the Skegness Playgoers she turned her hand to directing; her finest hour being when she directed the first amateur production of Noel Coward's Brief Encounter.

In her 80s, when most people's thoughts turn to cardigans and cocoa, she began a new career as a playwright. For Skegness Playgoers she wrote and directed a number of short comedies including Waiting for Them for which she was presented with a trophy for best play of the season only a week before her death. Showing great theatrical timing she died just three hours after her last play So You Think Rehearsals Are Fun! was performed at St Clements College, Skegness. Her funeral was held at St Mary's Church, Winthorpe, where she was buried next to husband Fred who predeceased her in 1999.