Cast dedicate show to Sandra
Broadcaster pays tribute to former school headteacher
An amateur dramatics cast dedicated their recent performances to their former director who died suddenly from leukemia aged 64. Am-dram stalwart and exDeacon’s School headteacher Sandra Samwell passed away on Monday, September 5, the day before Peterborough Operatic and Dramatic Society (PODS) beganperformingThe Rise and Fall of Little Voice at the Key Theatre.
Sandra had been t he show’s director until five weeks ago when she was diagnosed with leukaemia, and her place was taken by Jennie Dighton.
Jennie said: “It was a terrible shock when we heard her diagnosis. She was such a warm, loving, encouraging person who saw the best in people.
“It was very difficult on Monday night having to go to the theatre and tell the cast whathappened. I wantedtodo the best we possibly could for Sandra and to do her proud.”
Sandra, who lived in Newborough, was at Deacon’s School for morethan25years before moving to The Hemel Hempstead School before retiring. Jennieadded:“Youonly have to look at the things that people have written on Facebooktoseehowwelllovedand respected she was.
“She directed all the Peterborough Playgoers’ plays in the last six to seven years. And three years ago when Peterborough Operatic and Dramatic Society started doing plays in Septembershedirected them.”
TalkSPORT host Adrian Durham attended Deacon’s and credits Sandra’s influence for his career as a national broadcaster
He said: “Sandra recognised very early on that my upbringing had been very difficult, and life at home for me was tough. She had a way of looking after kids like me and making sure they had a chance of a good life beyond school.
“She directed school musicals and encouraged me to be part of them. The confidence I got from that took my life to another level. Even though she must have known I couldn’t sing a note, there I was on stage in front of a packedschoolhall blaring out songsfromGodspellandGuys andDolls. Those great memories will never leave me.
“I had very little proper adult guidance as a teenager, sheknewthatanddidherbest tofillthevoid, evenvisitingme at university upnorthtomake sure I was surviving.
“I’m sure she helped a lot of kids in her career and I was lucky to be one of them. Without herthereis nowayI’dhave the kind of life I have now.
“Sandra Samwell was a brilliant teacher. But more than that she was a truly wonderful person who genuinely cared.”
Sandrahadbegunwritinga book about a relative who was on the voyage with Captain Cook which saw the mapping of NewZealandandAustralia.
Herpassingwassuddenaccording to younger sister Fiona Fairchild, who said: “I’ve hadsomanyoutpouringsfrom peopleabouthowsheaffected their lives, past pupils that she had kept in contact with.
“She was incredibly clever andlovedeverybodyandhelping people.”
Fiona and her children are Sandra’s surviving relatives.
Sandra was also on the board of directors at Thomas Deacon Academy which replaced Deacon’s. Thomas Deacon Academy Education Trust CEO Julie Taylor said: “She was a very strong person but really kind. She had very high standards but she believed everybody had something creative in them.”
Sandra Samwell at Deacon’s School (above ) and with Peterborough Playgoers.
Radio host Adrian Durham