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Betty Blower, Seaview Players stalwart, dies aged 97

Betty Blower, well-known in Brightlingsea for her work with the Seaview Players and the Voices for Hospice concerts, died at home in Tower Street on January 20. She had recently celebrated her 97th birthday.

During the Second World War Betty served in the WRAF, where she drove staff cars and then ambulances, taking injured airmen from air bases to hospital. Years later, during a rehearsal for a production of The Diary of Anne Frank, she told the cast how she had been called into her commanding officer's office one morning and told that her husband’s plane had been shot down during a bombing raid over Germany the night before. They had only been married for a short time and she said that she learnt then that life was a precious thing and that from that day onward she was determined to make the most of hers.

Subsequently she married Hugh, with whom she had four children. Hugh ran a plumbing and diy business in Great Dunmow and Betty worked in the business's shop. Hugh died nearly 40 years ago and Betty supported the family by directing plays professionally, working across Essex.

Betty moved to Brightlingsea from Great Dunmow in the late 1980s and soon immersed herself in the local community.  She had been a very active member of the Dunmow Players and quickly sought out Brightlingsea’s amateur dramatics groups, finding a home with the  Seaview Players. Her first production for the group, Neil Simon's The Good Doctor, was staged at the Community Centre in 1994 and she went on to produce 11 full length shows and numerous one act plays.  Highlights include Blood Brothers, the hilarious Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery and The Cemetery Club.  She was chairman of the group at least twice, and an active committee member for many years.  Betty also produced Guys and Dolls and Half a Sixpence for the Community Centre, raising much-needed funds, and started the bi-annual Voices for Hospice Concerts, which have raised large sums of money for St Helena Hospice.

Her love for drama and the theatre was always evident, as anyone who was lucky enough to be cast in one of her shows discovered. In her later years, Betty’s hearing and mobility deteriorated, preventing her from producing shows. However, she always kept in touch with the groups in the town and attended as many shows as she could, often offering constructive criticism.  Right up until the final curtain Betty’s generosity touched the lives of family and friends and she will be remembered as an amazing lady who led an amazing life.

Betty leaves four children – Chris, Jenny, Liz and Nic, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Her funeral will take place on February 23 at 3.30pm for close family only due to the current restrictions on numbers. It will be broadcast online – for a link, email Nic Blower.

For those in Brightlingsea who would like to pay their respects, Betty's funeral procession will drive down Tower Street towards the Hard shortly after 2.30pm and then up New Street before proceeding at walking pace along the High Street and Station Road before departing for Weeley Crematorium.

Donations in Betty's memory can be made to St Helena Hospice via https://bettyblower.muchloved.com/.

Peter Reilly.

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