What is our secret as a society? A strong community around us.

L.A.D.S, as it states in our title, is made up of Latchingdon residents, and the surrounding communities and areas linked to Latchingdon. So it would come as no surprise that the heart of LADS is filled with our local residents, and it’s even less of a surprise like most society’s, that the passion for this group is passed down through family generations. LADS is made up primarily of lots of passionate families, long-standing members from all around the Dengie. People from far and wide come to watch and join us on our endeavor to bring local theatre to life, but the core is strongly local.

Marion Boyce with Great Grandchild

In particular, the Boyce family sits strongly within our core, going back generations, and are still strongly involved with LADS now. Recently, we came across a newspaper article printed in the local paper about one of LADS members Marion Eunice Boyce. The name may not ring any bells, but I was elated to learn about Marion, and her strong connection to our LADS family, literally.

Marion Boyce was born in Leander Road, Brixton Hill in 1914. She married Robert James Boyce in Lambeth in 1937. During and after the second world war, Marion worked for the Ministry of Agriculture, who set up the ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign which encouraged families to grow their own food to help cope with the rationing of food. From there she moved to Latchingdon with her husband to take over the local shop & post office, then known as Shoreham House Stores, now known as the Sai Newsagents. At the heart of the village, continuing to help others and becoming PostMistress before retiring in 1978.

It was from this point Marion started doing Box Office for LADS, and was well known and liked by everyone who walked through the doors. However, it wasn’t just Marion who managed to get involved with LADS. Her son, including Bob Boyce also played a part in LADS, being involved in the shows. This mainly rested with Robert Boyce’s Snoreham House Stores being the box office where all the tickets were sold. This was documented right back to as early as ‘Summertime’ the play by Ugo Betti, in 1959, which was the very first time tickets were sold under Robert Boyce’s Snoreham House Stores, and tickets were just 17.5 pence! This continued to be the case as many popular shows graced the LADS stage, such as “Puss in Boots”in 1962, ‘Great Expectations’ in 1965, ‘The Crucible’ in 1973 and so on through the decades.

When I say that families are a huge core part of LADS, I meant it! This involvement from Marion and Bob Boyce, this passed to his children. Many of the Boyce’s through the 60’s, 70s & 80s were either on stage or behind it! The backstage crew, and construction team, often consisted of George Boyce, and Robert Boyce often being named backstage Manager, an incredibly central role in the running of a smooth show.

Robert Boyce also being chairman between 1959-63, has a huge list of shows and roles he has played, as found in LADS ‘Practical Ways of Flying a Carpet’. To name just a few, being Stage Manager for ‘Streetcar Named Desire’, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ and ‘Sailor Beware’. Also his long list of shows that passed through his hands via tickets and the box office for many many years.

Sharon Wingrove ( Left), alongside Judi Embling (Right)

Nicky Boyce was always getting heavily involved with shows such as his role as ‘Sonny’ in the 1988 production of ‘Grease’. Nicky was also found behind the stage, lending a hand with sets, props and effects, such as his involvement with ‘Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat’. Sharon Boyce being the society’s first aider, as she was a big part of the St Johns Ambulance crew, as well as doing shows too, such as ‘As You Like it’ and ‘The Visit’. Sharon also managed to pull husband Alan Wingrove in to help backstage, to get involved as much as possible, and dedicate time into continuing to support the well-oiled machine. Having such a strong family unit as a large part of LADS, alongside our other long standing and dedicated members, LADS grew in numbers and popularity. This then again passed onto Marions great grandchildren, with Alana Wingrove, now Wilson, remaining a strong figure amongst our productions and front of house/box office now, as well as our Vice Chairman. Alana also has been a part of many shows, Showhits and plays with us, and recently brought LADS youngest member Robert (Bobby) Wilson into the world with husband Matt Wilson.

The whole family took part in production after production, one way or another. Through this participation from Marion and her dedicated family, Marion was made President of LADS. LADS President was a role that not many were crowned, and was given as a gesture towards all the selfless time put in by Marion, all the shows she attended and helped out on.

This, quite simply to me, is a perfect notion of how much of a family we are. Not just a community full of hard working people, who dedicate their time to LADS out of the goodness of their hearts, but a real family who support and inspire one another. The people like Marion, and her relatives, are the ones who pass on the passion for LADS down generations, to this day. As we can see, the passion is still alive today. This passion spreads in each generation, enabling everyone and anyone to feel welcome and inspired to get involved and have fun! Nobody is left out, nobody is forgotten, and if you’re willing to put in the hard work and commitment, our society can give so much back!

Thank you to Alana and Family for the information and insight, as well as the photos.

– LADS Blogger