Tributes paid to much-loved producer

Barbara Arundell
Barbara Arundell

A LOVING husband has paid tribute to his “talented” wife who devoted more than 30 years to a community theatre group.

Barbara Arundell, of Windsor Rise, Pontefract, died at St Gemma’s Hospice, Leeds, on August 5 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.

Mrs Arundell, 68, was known for decades of dedication to Pontefract’s St Giles’ Pantomime Society, where she took over as producer in 1984.

Her husband, Eric Arundell, said: “She just loved the theatre, her passion was drama and acting. When the society was without a producer, they asked her if she was prepared to do it and they’ve been stuck with her ever since.

“She was very passionate about it, she absolutely adored theatre but above all else, family was everything to her.

“The society was her extended family and anyone will tell you the most important thing to Barbara was we were all a happy family.

“There could have been 80 people on stage but we were a family and still are.”

Mr and Mrs Arundell, who were married for 49 years, moved to Pontefract in 1967 and spent ten years with the St Giles’ Players amateur dramatic group, before joining the pantomime society in 1979.

The husband-wife team helped behind the scenes and in a number of small acting roles before Mrs Arundell was offered the role of producer.

Mr Arundell, 69, said: “Barbara was 14 and I was 15 when we met, and there’s never been anyone else. So many things made her special – her love for family and the society, which was her overriding passion.

“It was something we did together and the family did together. She was very talented at the production, she did choreography, she picked the cast, the songs, she did scenery, she did the lot.

“The society is wonderful and I think a lot of that is down to Barbara, the week of the show she always managed to keep it in control, there was always a rallying call where she would get us together and say ‘let’s show them what we can do’. It was fantastic.”

The society’s production of Sinbad the Sailor, scheduled for January 2012, would have been Mrs Arundell’s 28th time in the producer’s chair.

Mr Arundell said his wife had left everything in place for the show to continue.

Jeannette Morgan, society chairman, said: “Barbara brought a huge amount of enthusiasm to the society and was a true friend to us all. She will be greatly missed by each and every one of us and her legacy will live on for ever.”

The funeral will be held at St Giles’ Church on Tuesday August 16. Donations should be made to Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

Mrs Arundell leaves her husband, three children – Stephen, Philip and Claire – and five grandchildren.