Death of much loved thespian

Joan Thomas.
Joan Thomas.

A leading light in the theatre who played the Queen Mother and Miss Marple on the Lancaster stage has died, aged 87.

Joan Thomas was at one time a member of the Heysham Amateurs, the Morecambe Warblers, St Joseph’s Gilbert and Sullivan Society in Lancaster, and Lancaster Footlights, and secretary of Heysham Townswomen’s Guild.

Joan was born in 1925 and moved to Morecambe in 1947 from Farnworth, near Bolton.

Having already sung in a choir, she began singing lessons with Madam Patti Regina who lived in a basement flat at the top of Sefton Road. During this time she joined Heysham Amateurs. There she met the late Vernon Thomas, a vicar’s son from Slyne, whom she married in 1953.

During Morecambe’s thriving post-war years, Joan’s time was taken up with variety shows, concert parties and music halls at The Winter Gardens, Arcadian, Royalty, Palace and Central Pier.

For the Footlights, her most memorable roles were as the Queen Mother in ‘The Queen and I’ and Miss Marple in ‘A Murder is announced’.

As a member of Heysham’s Townswomens Guild she was secretary, attended conferences, sang in the choir and was very involved socially, taking on the job of visiting the sick and housebound.

She worked as a senior disablement resettlement officer, placing disabled people in employment.

A civil servant all her life, she also became secretary of the Civil Service Benevolent Fund.

She passed away on May 24 and her funeral was held at Sefton Road United Reformed Church on Thursday.