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In fond memory of Hilary Ward whose last curtain call was 22nd March 2016

The text is written by Jo Ward looking back on just some of the many ways in which Hilary was a part of CODS for so many years. Plus photos of her performing in a variety of roles.  We all miss her a great deal.

Hilary was associated with CODS from the very first days of its existence in 1964, but the connection was not looked upon entirely favourably by her, as it involved a string of babysitters whilst her parents, Derek and Olive, were out playing.

She became a performing member in her teens in Gilbert and Sullivan's "Patience", "Down in the Valley" and Orpheus in' the Underworld", but was equally happy back stage and several times took on the role as call boy. She always insisted that the title of that roll remain as call boy, although some members of the society didn't seem to grasp the connotations of using a term, which was technically more accurate for her gender.

In those early days she would never have considered taking a principal part, although she did sing solos at some of our earlier concerts, honing her skills that would come to the fore later.

During her early CODS days she made some very close friendships, some of which endured throughout her life.

Hilary's childhood attitude towards the society seemed to return when she married me, as she was less involved, and, as the shows always take place at Easter, the time I spent setting up the lights and rehearsing over the holiday weekend was not regarded with great enthusiasm. This was even more apparent when our children came along.

As Alice and Philip got older and started to take a bit of an interest in the society' Hilary began to help with front of house duties, and eventually was persuaded to perform in My Fair Lady in 2005. I still think there was an element of "if you can't beat them, join them" at the beginning, but gradually she became more and more involved and confident, and felt maybe she could take on principal roles, which she went on to do in "The Baker's Wife", "Viva Mexico" and "Powder and Paint".

Hilary singing "I'll make your dreams come true" Sept 2013 ... CLICK!

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Hilary took roles in a few plays, notably, as a long suffering wife in "Local Affairs" a role dear to her heart and for which she had been rehearsing for the past 30 years.

Hilary was very conscientious when auditioning, and when given a part, however small, she became very focused on learning her words and we often rounded our days off, late at night, running lines. This was also the case when trying for a solo in our concerts. Practice, practice practice - and discussion as to how she would present the song. But what results she achieved -her silk, rich alto voice reminiscent of those singers of the fifties. How she hated it when she made a mistake!

Hilary was very proud and honoured when she was elected chairman of the society, and felt somehow it was her destiny to continue what her parents had helped to start. Things didn't always run as smoothly as she would have wished, when not all of her father's committee procedural rules where adhered to, which at times she found extremely frustrating.

Hilary gave so much to so many within CODS and in the town, and we will not see her like again. A determined, feisty, witty, conscientious, beautiful person, with a musical and acting ability which is rare.

We definitely miss her.

Jo Ward

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