WENDY EDWARDS – A REMEMBRANCE FROM BOB SALTER
I first met Wendy when I joined BROS in 1974 for a production of Fiddler on the Roof at Richmond Theatre.
At that time their rehearsals took place upstairs above the Barnes Pub – Ye White Hart, on the river, and it was probably here that Wendy first called me ‘Robert’! Until then the only person who had done so was my mother when she was irritated by me, which she frequently was – mainly because from the age of 13 I thought I sounded and looked like Rex Harrison.
The adoption of my name continued throughout Wendy’s life – just as did her straight talking and no-nonsense approach to life in all its aspects. You certainly knew where you stood with Wendy. Her directness was one of her most endearing qualities. She was not, however, always correct with her predictions. For example, she told Steve and Marion Alais that she doubted their marriage would last – and for almost 50 years they have proved her wrong!
Wendy joined BROS in 1974 for Hello Dolly earlier in the year, also at Richmond Theatre. This is the production that saw our esteemed patron and the aforementioned Steve Alais as Barnaby and Cornelius respectively. Helen Jenkins had to drop out of Dolly and Wendy was brought in by the quite remarkable Carla Lawrence to replace her. Fortunately, Helen and Wendy became firm friends as a result.
Wendy often avoided the limelight but her singing voice was superb, indeed legendary, and she was also one of the most loyal BROS members for many years. She did occasionally step out of the chorus – for example she was Sister Sophia in the Sound of Music and sang in Cowardy Custard and revues such as Still Entertaining.
She did more than her fair share for BROS, apart from giving us Melanie – our most revered choreographer, who regrettably has also followed in her mother’s footsteps in the use of ‘Robert’ when addressing me. Wendy was often to be seen Front or Rear of House and I am reminded that she also helped with make up for the boys in our production of Oliver! in 1993
In the late 1980s along with other BROS stalwarts, Helen, Pat Vandepeer, and Shirley Tibbetts, Wendy was instrumental in forming a cabaret group Miscellany whose original aim was to raise money for a hydrotherapy pool for a local SEND school. They achieved their aim and continued producing entertainment and raising money for many years thereafter. At the same time, Wendy was running a successful care agency with Melanie.
Wendy sang throughout her life, and latterly she was part of the Accidentals music group and the Treble Clef Ladies Choir both based in Weybridge where she lived.
Music was as important a part of her life as her work, and she will be remembered by all who knew and worked with her.
For my part, the sound of ‘Robert’ from Melanie will continue to instill the same fear as it did when she tried unsuccessfully to teach me a short tap routine in Crazy for You, reminding me forever of her mother Wendy – a dear departed friend.