The local papers during the 1950s often featured residents in the area who had graced the local stage. Unfortunately the papers no longer report on what our Drama/Entertainment groups are up to or the stars that appear in them.
Audrey did not appear in any of these pieces although she started her stage career in the late 1950s when she joined a Laindon dance group called ‘The Earlettes’ run by Miss Earle, where she learned to tap dance. She had a natural talent and she was still tap dancing and performing well into her 70s.
With her love of performing she joined the ‘Langdon Hills Revellers’ and found herself holding down many principle roles. It was here that she met and fell in love with Len Carter, he was in charge of stage lighting. They were married at Dunton Church in 1957 and soon afterwards Audrey joined ‘The Laindon Players’ and started to teach tap dancing at the ‘Popular School of Dance’ run by Miss Taylor.
Audrey also joined another concert party run by Lily Collison called ‘Sophie’s Concert Party’. They performed songs and sketches at care homes and even entertained the inmates at Chelmsford prison. Audrey was so busy that she told Len she would have to give something up, so she gave up work!
In 1965 Audrey and Len moved to Vowler Road, Langdon Hills and became members of the Langdon Hills Methodist Church where they would devote much of their spare time throughout their married life organising a crèche on Sundays and she was also a Sunday school teacher with Len.
In 1967, the Minister, Rev Joe Rooney, formed a drama group consisting of church members and friends. They performed pantomimes every February. Mrs Bartlett wrote and directed them. Audrey was the choreographer and performed many principle and character roles. When Mrs Bartlett moved, Audrey took over the directing and producing. The group became known as ‘MADS’ (Methodist Amateur Dramatic Society) and they ran from 1968 to 2012. The group raised large amounts of money for the Church Fund. Audrey put her life and soul into MADS. Some of the children carried on performing in the pantomimes well into their adult years with their own children following them.
When putting on ‘The Wizard of Oz’, Audrey wrote the script, word for word from the original film. There was even a real life Toto the dog!
Audrey was not finished: she started up a concert party called ‘Patchwork’, entertaining in local care homes. She also created a children’s singing group called ‘The Jempsie Seven’ who toured the local churches singing tempo hymns. In 1974, Audrey produced and directed a Gang Show on a large scale involving the Brownies, Guides, Cubs and Scouts from the church and in the years that followed organised other gang shows but on a smaller scale.
What else, well for 15 years she was an integral part of the Girl Guides, being the Leftie at Guide meetings and QM at many Guide Camps and became an auntie to many of the guides who remained her long life friends.
Audrey was born in January 1938 within the sound of Bow Bells. Audrey’s grandfather won £100 on an Irish Sweepstake ticket and promptly paid a deposit of £5 on ‘Lilac’, a bungalow in Victory Avenue, Dunton, which became the family’s holiday home until the outbreak of war, when they moved to Dunton permanently. Audrey attended Dunton Church and went to Dunton Primary School. In her later years she volunteered at the Dunton Plotlands, showing visitors around The Haven Museum and organised the yearly Dunton School reunions at the Plotlands which became a local famous event.
Audrey passed away peacefully in May 2019, leaving a huge void in the local community and will therefore be greatly missed.