Enid Foxall: 5 May 1924 – 3 September 2020
This obituary, written by Lyn Hyde, is an edited version of that published in the Autumn 2020 (online) edition of The Gaddesden Diary
Enid Foxall and Patsy Blackmore – Patsy and Enid: it is truly the end of an era to lose them in the same year. Both well into their ninety’s they were a terrific team. Their wisdom and charisma gave LGDC an edge over any local Am Dram competition. I wrote about Patsy who died in February in the last Diary.
Enid Foxall née Hawley died in September at the grand old age of 96. Enid lived in Little Gaddesden for well over 50 years and was an involved and enthusiastic member of our community.
The Hawley family moved to Little Gaddesden just after the war in the 1940’s and when Enid married Peter Foxall they too made their home in the village. Peter ran a very successful engineering business on the new Hemel Industrial Estate.
Enid had trained at RADA, but as a speech therapist – Pop Hawley didn’t approve of his daughter being on the stage. However she was permitted to appear on Little Gaddesden stage alongside him in the early days of the Drama Club. In fact it is a wonder that she continued after one of the worst first night dramas in LGDC history. The story, related by Patsy, is that: on the first night of our 1950 production ‘Jupiter Laughs’ the script calls for an explosion. Ken Thorn (Daisy’s husband) went to Brocks Fireworks factory in Hemel for the appropriate explosive. Unfortunately he did not read the instructions carefully and it was let off inside the hall instead of outside. The result – the windows blew out, the set fell down, Enid had her tights burnt off and was thrown into the arms of Frank Cocks (Janet Stinton’s dad, and husband of dear Doris, our ever patient pianist). I have no record of the remainder of the run – doubtless the show carried on.
Enid became Chairman of the Drama Club. I was secretary to her chair and, goodness, she could get through the business of the meeting, clear and concise. She could sort a tricky situation with such tact and diplomacy that even the most tender of egos didn’t feel bruised. Diplomacy is a gift of the Hawley family, in the early 1970s her brother Sir Donald Hawley sold the family home in the village after he had been appointed High Commissioner in Malaysia. We now see his daughter Caroline Hawley (a fluent Arabic speaker) reporting on the BBC from embattled Middle Eastern locations.
On stage, Enid appeared in many guises: Britannia in magnificent red cloak; white robes and a trident in a revue; various Shakespearian ventures: Olivia in Twelfth Night 1958, Mistress Ford in Merry Wives of Windsor 1960. One of my favourites was Enid with Patsy as the pair of murderous sisters Abby and Martha Brewster in Arsenic & Old Lace in 1982. The first production she directed with LGDC seems to have been ‘Ambrose Applejohn’s Adventure’ in April 1960 which she directed with her father – truly a family club.
Later she teamed with David Wray to direct ‘Maria Marten’ 1968, ‘Dark of the Moon’ 1971, ‘Oliver!’1972; Adventure Story 1979; The Winslow Boy 1983; I think the last was ‘When We Are Married’ in 2007. There were also melodramas, restoration comedy, and pantomimes. But Patsy & Enid were most famous for their Revues – the gathering of material, songs and sketches took months, but they were slick and joyous. Little Gaddesden Revues were renowned throughout the district, and we played to packed houses every night.
In the days before all children went off to university and O and A level exams were not so stressed, the Drama Club was our weekend entertainment. Every year there was a ‘big cast’ production and everyone aged 11 upwards trooped along to the village hall to take part. We learned so much: Enid’s background in speech therapy meant that she coached and encouraged us. She taught us how to breath and project and a great deal about stage presence.
One of Enid’s favourite and oft repeated phrases was “Aren’t we Lucky” – Little Gaddesden Drama Club was so lucky to have Enid and Patsy at its heart for so many years. They were pure fun.