Tributes to 'much-loved' grandmother and stalwart of Valley's theatrical scene.

The late Margaret Smith
The late Margaret Smith

Loved ones and friends attended a Celebration of Life service at Clitheroe Parish Church for Mrs Margaret Stephens Smith, who died earlier this month at the grand old age of 90.

Born in Durham, Margaret trained at Bradford Civic Theatre School with some noted actors including Bernard Hepton, and while there she was involved in two productions, which starred Alec Guinness. At the age of 20 she was one of the youngest in the country to qualify as a Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music as a teacher of speech and drama.

She studied history and drama at Leeds University and dramatic movement and dance in Manchester. Margaret moved to Lancashire in the 1950s and was quickly called upon to adjudicate at local drama events. She taught English language and literature and later became head of drama at Rhyddings High School, in Oswaldtwistle. Margaret was the founder of Clitheroe Parish Church Players and the Castle Players Children’s Theatre and is best known for her work in producing and directing many local plays and pageants including the Scout Gang Show and an open air production of Merrie England in the Clitheroe Castle grounds, which was featured on national and local television. She twice produced the Cycle of Medieval Mystery Plays at Whalley Abbey, which involved the participation of about 400 local people, and her Light of the Nations Pageant at Hoghton Tower saw a message from the Pope being delivered by the vicar on his motorbike.

However, her largest scale production was in 2,000 when 2,000 players took part in a Churches Together Millennium event at Preston North End before an audience of about 15,000. While drama was her first love, Margaret was also the joint founder and secretary for 14 years of Clitheroe Naturalists Society and was one of the first editors of Clitheroe Talking Newspapers for the blind. In 2002, she received the John Barry Award for her services to arts and culture in the town.

Margaret regularly gave presentations on English Women’s Fashion using authentic costumes from the 1800s where friends and family helped by modelling the clothes. She was a member of the Ribblesdale Rotary Club and also the WI where she was a member of the Downham branch and was later an executive member of the Lancashire Federation. She has inspired, influenced and will be remembered by many.

Margaret was married to Clitheroe teacher Douglas Smith until his death in 2010, and she is survived by her daughters Karen and Rosalind and was a much-loved grandmother and great-

grandmother.