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Enjoying the jab

by Michael Ford last modified 29 Jan, 2021 01:35 PM

Francis Barter of Lyme Regis has shared a heartwarming story of friendship and resilience, as she took an older friend, a former actress and mink-farmer, for her Covid vaccination.

Enjoying the jab

Original photo by Eddy Pearce

She says:

"On Wednesday 30th January, I drove my 92 year old friend Sylvia to the Bridport Medical Centre for her first jab. It was a real pleasure to do this as she is very dear to me and has been so sensible, shielding throughout the pandemic.

"Our friendship started through the play reading group of the Lyme Regis U3A. Since then it has grown into a lovely friendship to include visits and chats, particularly at this difficult time. She has remained cheerful throughout, despite the various deprivations, particularly as she lives on her own.

"I was very impressed with the roll-out, the efficiency and general friendliness of all concerned. However, what made it rather jolly and memorable for us was when the photographer approached us asking if he could take our photograph as we were in very bright colours and I guess looked cheery. Of course, we agreed and went home feeling happy and had had some fun."

Francis continues:

"I’d like to tell you more about this remarkable lady.

"Her professional background is largely bound up with the theatre and hence the later U3A group.

"She trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama from where she went on to act in a number of plays, largely comedic and character roles. This was all during the 1950’s when she also received her Equity Card.

"A fair amount of travels with her acting in various repertory companies took her from southern High Wycombe and Aylesbury to the South West where she played the part of Madam Arcati (a favourite of hers) from Blythe Spirit and up to Ipswich, then the north, Lancashire.

"Certain breaks in her acting career were necessitated by family responsibilities, including the care of her mother through serious illness, and helping her father in his wine shipping business. The latter required her to accompany him to France where she could act as translator.

"She then decided to take a crash secretarial course which would enable her to live in London and be at the heart of opportunities in the world of drama, as well as earning her a necessary income. Also, as a consequence, she was able to join a publishing company which is where she met Len, a widower with a young son, Alan. In time they married and had a long and happy life together.

"While in London, she was able to pick up her acting again and enjoyed taking up a number of tarty roles as well as the rather more serious ones! However, this again was interrupted when Len was made redundant. Forever resourceful, the family moved to Uplyme in Devon where for 4 years they ran a mink farm!

"From here the family moved to Lyme Regis, having sold up the farm, and again Sylvia became more involved in her acting. For many years, she played a number of parts, many of which were major roles. She speaks very fondly of her times here both with Len and many new friends.

"She also directed some plays and even recently has helped in voice training. Such is the respect that she gained that she became the President of the Marine Players. Nowadays she attends the theatre whenever possible and was delighted to meet Sir Ian McKellen a year ago.

"Gardening is one of her main interests these days, as well of course in seeing people and having them round to tea. Len is no longer with her, having passed away some time ago, but she keeps in touch regularly with his son and his lovely family in Australia."

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