End of an era at Trinity Theatre

    Caroline Elliott

    A requiem mass will be held in Tunbridge Wells on Friday (June 10) in memory of Caroline Elliott, one of the founders of Trinity Theatre.

    The service will be held at St Augustine’s Catholic Church in Crescent Road at 1.30pm.

    Mrs Elliott, who died at the age of 86 on May 28 after a short illness, was one of the leading lights of the town’s amateur dramatics – both as actor and director.

    She was also the box office manager for more than three decades, from the arts centre’s opening night until her death.

    In 2011 she was awarded the MBE for services to theatre in the town. Her husband Michael is one of the best known actors in the area.

    Even though she was very ill, Mrs Elliott managed to attend the dress rehearsal and opening night of her final production at Trinity, God of Carnage, in April.

    Her friend and colleague Sheila Button, who had worked with her at the box office for the past 16 years, acclaimed it as ‘one of the best things I’ve seen at the theatre’.

    “It was a stunning production,” recalls Mrs Button. “The cast, acting, lighting and set – that was Caroline, simply one of the best.

    “I remember seeing her playing in A Passionate Woman, and thinking that was an apt name for it. She was passionate about all things.

    “Caroline was such an enormous personality, she had so much drive and energy and enthusiasm for family, friends and colleagues.”

    Caroline Elliott was born in Norbury, South London on March 5, 1932. She worked on the Today programme in its early years then later joined the BBC’s drama department on the original Maigret series. She moved to Tunbridge Wells in 1968 with Michael and their three children, Gregory, Dominic and Sophie. She also leaves six grandchildren.

    As a member of the Tunbridge Wells Drama Club, she was involved in the planning to convert Trinity Church into an arts centre, along with Mr Elliott.

    The church, designed by Decimus Burton, was saved from demolition by the drama club and Civic Society.

    When the theatre opened in 1982, Caroline put her name forward to become its box office manager, a role she held for 34 years.

    John Martin, Trinity’s Artistic Director, paid tribute to her, saying: “She possessed a bright, insightful mind accompanied by a wonderful sense of humour.

    “Caroline also served on our board for many years, with a devotion and commitment that amazed and astonished us all. She had an enviable energy and joie de vivre.

    “To say that she will be missed by all of us is an incredible understatement – she will forever be part of Trinity and, quite simply, we would not be where we are today without her.”

    Donations are requested to Hospice in the Weald or Cancer Research UK. Please send them to E R Hickmott, 41 Grove Hill Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1SD.