A WOMAN who played a vital role behind the scenes at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre has died at the age of 84.

Mary Patricia Dunne, who was known to everybody as Pat, worked as wardrobe mistress at the theatre for 30 years, designing costumes and dressing high profile celebrities, local amateur performers, and youth projects – everybody who walked through the doors of the theatre would have had their costume made by her.

According to her daughter Joanne, her mum was only starstruck when she got to meet ballet dancer Dame Margot Fonteyn.

Pat was born in Dublin and moved to Swindon in the 1960s.

The former hairdresser started work at the Wyvern soon after it opened in 1971, and was the driving force behind the Summer Youth Project, a major and popular production that involves 250 young people – she would single-handedly make each costume for the show.

Nyree Kingsbury, a friend and former colleague, said: “I met Pat back in 2008 when I was first introduced to the Summer Youth Project at the Wyvern Theatre.

“The production was Oliver and Pat took the whole production in her stride.

“She was very much a pillar of the theatre by then, having worked in the ticket office since the early 70s and also in wardrobe.

“She was a mine of information, with skills and experience to match, designing costumes, interpreting ideas from the creative team and coping with all the differences in the children.

“She was a real people person, although I’m sure she could be quite formidable at times! She was a loveable Irish lady, she always had a twinkle in her eye and a story to tell.”

Rodney Howard first met Pat when helping her in the wardrobe section at the theatre when he was 15. They went on to become great friends.

Rodney said: “She was terrifying but absolutely brilliant.

“She was an unparalleled source of information and amazing at the job she did. The things she could do with clothing was unprecedented.

“One of the highlights of my weekend would be the time spent on Saturday creating and designing at her home. You could talk to her about anything and she was the most composed person I have ever met.

“Her eyes would light up when talking about the work she did.”

With husband Ray, Pat had three children, four grandchildren and a great grandson.

Pat was diagnosed with cancer in October and died on January 4. Her funeral will be held on February 20 at the 1.30pm at the crematorium at Kingsdown.