A theatre school in Skegness has some big shoes to fill following the sudden death of its much-loved seamstress.
For 35 years Tina Richardson had been a vital member of the team, creating amazing costumes for Janice Sutton’s spectacular productions.
Janice said: “We were devastated by the news she had died. It was in November and we’d only just been talking because Tina was keen to get started on the costumes for the New Year Fantazia show at the Embassy.
“She always knew what I wanted. I’d start by asking her for eight skirts knowing I’d want more and she’d say ‘I’ll do a dozen then’.
“We are really going to miss her. We’ll always remember her laughter and her strong personality.
“It’s so difficult to find anyone with dressmaking skills like that these days. I can remember going round one day because I needed more purple jackets for A Dickens of a Christmas. And would you believe it? She opened the door in a purple housecoat. I said that’s just what I need and she joked I was taking the coat off her back. From then on we became great friends.”
At Tina’s funeral, Janice recalls saying: “Send us a feather down now and then to let us know you are there.”
The surprise came when they arrived at the Embassy car park for Fantazia. Janice said: “We opened the car door and this feather fell to our feet. I said, ‘Well look at that’. So many things keep happening that remind us of her.”
Since the show, Janice has been spending hours at the studio in Low Road sorting through thousands of costumes ready for storage – and among them she found the purple jackets.
Janice and assistant teacher Joy Everett will soon start work on preparing for the summer show in July. Last year the school celebrated 30 years at the Embassy and Janice was recently awarded lifetime membership of the International Dance Teachers’ Association.
There are no plans for her to slow down. She said: “This is my life. I am so grateful to the patrons and people of the town who support us – and my husband Ivan has been my rock through it all.
“We would love a sponsor to come forward so we can climb even higher. And it would be lovely if there was a seamstress out there who would like to get involved with the theatre - although we’ll never forget Tina.”
For more information, visit www.janicesuttontheatreschool.co.uk