Tributes to wardrobe mistress

By Victoria a thunderstorm roll over the Grand Canyon and sipping ice cold Margaritas in the blazing sun.

By Victoria Knowles

WATCHING a thunderstorm roll over the Grand Canyon and sipping ice cold Margaritas in the blazing sun.

Wardrobe mistress Ann Summers lived life to the full and after her recent death at the age of 65 her friends and family shared some of their memories about her great love of the arts and her spirit of adventure.

"She adored opera, theatre, art and the French comedies at the Film Theatre. To put it simply Ann is the best person I have ever known and I love sharing every experience with her," said Mick Vince as he spoke about the woman he spent more than 30 years of his life with.

While she spent many happy years at the Wolsey her love of travel and all things adventurous led to many wonderful experiences.

Mick said: "Ann had an adventurous spirit too and loved to travel. When we were both asked if we would like to fly in a friend's glider, she leapt in, circled the airstrip and landed whilst I was still mulling over the prospect.

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"This spirit also took her to Canada to teach drama in a summer camp where the abandoned rich kids were slightly less dangerous than the nightly raiding racoons and the enormous mosquitoes."

"For Ann, sipping Margaritas by a friend's pool in Tuscany was nice, but watching a thunderstorm roll up the Grand Canyon was better. Paris was also a very special place for her and we arranged for her 60th birthday to be spent by the Seine," he added.

Before she had even left school Ann knew she wanted to work in the theatre. After an unsuccessful attempt at secretarial school spurred on by a concerned mother she followed her dream and during the 1980s and 90s she became one of the key figures in Ipswich theatre.

"She was just a consummate professional. I had such respect for her and the work she did," said Dick Tuckey who was artistic director at The Wolsey during her time.

"She was an immaculate member of the staff and so very good at what she did. It has been a few years now since we worked together and my overwhelming memory of her is her great courage and strength over the last few years.

"I have such a great deal of respect for her and all that she did."

Ann, who lived in Ipswich was head of wardrobe at the Wolsey from its opening in 1979 until its temporary closure in 1999 and during her time there she would scour the country for perfect costumes. She was a perfectionist who worked hard to produce stunning works of art year after year.

Eileen Kidd is the secretary at the Wolsey and remembers Ann as a valued friend.

"I can remember one time when she was very busy getting some costumes ready for a youth production. It was the school holidays and there were a lot of youngsters about.

"She spied two young girls outside and said to them, "come on you two you can come along and help me carry some of these costumes".

"She got them working all afternoon and didn't even realise that they were nothing to do with the show and that one of them was my daughter and the other was her French friend who could not speak a word of English, " she laughed.

Ann has been called one of the last of a disappearing breed of full time wardrobe mistresses. But while her presence will be sorely missed from the world of theatre in Ipswich it is clear from her friends and families that her memory will live on.

Ann died on October 2 and leaves behind her partner Mick Vince, two daughters Abra and Jordan and five grandchildren.