Enid Foxall – Obituary

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.

Cast photo of Enid and others
Enid, fifth from left, with others in medieval costume

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.

Photo of Arsenic and Old Lace
Patsy Blackmore and Enid Foxall in ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’

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.

Photo of Enid with David Wray
Enid with David Wray

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.

Lyn Hyde

 



Leave A Comment

  1. Maggie Bradley

    Enid was a kindly lady who always had a smile . I will always recall her clear direction and the way she and Patsy worked so hard and well together on producing such great reviews . Her knowledge of what could be included was phenomenal. Very fond memories

  2. Kathy Fry

    I can’t remember how I met Enid. We were neighbours after we moved to Ringshall in 1978. I do remember Enid asking if I was interested in joining The Drama Club. They were auditioning for ‘A funny thing happened on the way to the forum’. Not brave enough to ‘turn-up’ on my own – Enid collected me and took me along to the Village Hall. I was given a small part in that 1979 show and from then on the Drama Club became a very special part of my life – and still is.
    I have very fond memories of Enid and Patsy and so grateful for all the support they gave me.
    I was fortunate to have also been in the ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ production and I learned so much from them over the years.
    I was always in awe of Enid and her knowledge and expertise along with the enthusiasm she brought (along with Patsy) to encourage all who stepped on that Village Hall stage was invaluable.

  3. Andrew Sheard

    I have a particular memory of Enid during our 2007 production of JB Priestley’s delicious Edwardian comedy ‘When We Are Married’. The play was originally to have been directed by Patsy Blackmore. During rehearsals, Patsy became ill, but Enid came to the rescue and took over direction of the play through to the performances.

    One of the late-stage rehearsals was a costume run, in which the ladies’ sumptuously designed gowns (thank you Paulette Reed) were being given their first outing under the lights for directorial approval. A moment after Priestley’s blowsy femme fatale Lottie Grady, wonderfully played by Julie McCarthy, made her appearance on stage, Enid’s crystal tones came ringing out from the darkened auditorium with the immortal words: ‘More boob, dear!’.

    (Edited from my original post on rememberingenid.com.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *