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What a leading lady
8:40am Friday 27th April 2012 in News
IT MAY not be an Oscar, but leading lady Daphne Breakspear admitted to shedding a tear after being given an award recognising a lifetime commitment to amateur theatre.
Daphne, who has been director and secretary for the Phoenix Players for 50 years, was nominated for the award by the amateur theatre group and was presented with it by head of culture at Swindon Council Helen Miah.
The award was planned as a surprise, and to get Daphne on stage they asked her to deliver the final lines of the play.
“They conned me into doing this one line at the end of the play,” said Daphne.
“I was astounded – I must admit I did get a bit tearful. I had no idea that they were going to do that, they kept it really secret.”
Daphne, who like a true actress refused to give her age, started performaing at the age of eight.
She joined the Poetry Circle Players, later renamed the Phoenix Players, in 1957 and directed her first play five years later.
Helen said the award was a way of saying thank you to people who have given their commitment and support to the arts scene in Swindon.
She said: “It’s a relatively simple process, people just have to email and we have a look to see if we think that they deserve it.
“In the case of Daphne it was a no-brainer: 50 years of service, especially in a voluntary capacity, is just extraordinary.”
Since she began in the theatre business, Daphne has directed almost 200 productions and worked with many different community groups, including the Swindon Light Operatic Society and the Swindon Shakespeare Unit.
But she puts her interest in the theatre down to the two loves of her life: her late husband Alex Worster and her present husband Denis Breakspear, who have both been involved with her in the theatre since the 1960s.
“Without them I’m not at all sure I would have kept my interest for so long,” she said.
“Being in the world of amateur theatre I’ve made a good many friends. I’m having a wonderful time and I have no intention of stopping.”