Liphook Amateur Productions
The Liphook Village Hall Management Committee payed tribute to Susanne Dew when she passed away in January 2000 having succumbed to a long illness. She worked tirelessly to restore amateur theatre in Liphook and founded L.A.M.P.S. donating the takings from their first show to hall improvements. After which, local people have enjoyed many pantomimes and musical shows at the Village Hall and now the Millennium Hall. Her main aim was to involve young people in their productions and she formed a junior group for this purpose.
For many years Susanne represented LAMPS on the Village Hall Management Committee, where her knowledge and expertise was much appreciated. Susanne was extremely public spirited and in the Winter Issue of the Liphook Community Magazine 1998 (Parish Portrait) her work as a telegraphist with the Navy during World War II came to light. She is sadly missed by all who knew her.
Susanne Dew's living room was always full of mementoes of a lifelong determination to "try everything" – there was her own paintings on the walls and on easels, her pottery and engraved glassware on the shelves, a bank of radio transmitters and receivers on one wall and albums full of photographs and cuttings which record a full and fascinating life were everywhere.
Only three months old when her father died in 1919 as a result of war injuries, Susanne grew up in the Vale of Evesham, determined even as a child to "follow her own way" and fortunate in having a mother who understood and encouraged her independent spirit. She adored dancing in all its forms and attended classes, at a shilling a time, concentrating on acrobatic and tap dance. Her teacher formed a troupe, which included Susanne, when she was twelve years old and they danced in pantomime – Dick Whittington and Babes in the Wood – but it was always back to school after Christmas. On leaving school Susanne became a professional, touring with shows until the outbreak of war in 1939 and the closure of many provincial theatres. Her teacher formed a troupe, which included Susanne, when she was twelve years old and they danced in pantomime –Attracted by the trim WRNS uniform, Susanne soon found herself in London facing a dauntingly glamorous WREN officer across a desk in Queen Anne's Mansions. Asked what she thought she could offer the WRENS, she had to admit that there was very little. Finally, in what seemed desperation, the query came – "Were you a Girl Guide?" – "Yes!" – "Did you learn morse?" "Yes!" and as a telegraphist Susanne began a highly successful and happy five years, starting at the naval base at Portland and ending at the Fleet Air Arm base at Yeovilton. Her job was to guide young trainee pilots "home" when they got lost. Of course they became "her boys" but her official title was "High Frequency Direction Finding Operator". Many famous people passed through – Ernest Lush accompanied Susanne on the piano when she danced and sang at shows and Laurence Olivier was on the base for a while. Life was full – it was "a good ship".
After the war Susanne met and married Bill Dew and they moved to Grayshott in 1957 where she became an enthusiastic member of the Grayshott Stagers. The marriage did not last and Susanne found herself alone and bringing up two young children, Mary and Rodney. She decided to open a shop and began with a small space selling toys and bric a brac of all kinds, much of it, in the beginning, from her own possessions. The change to a pet shop was due to the chance encounter with an elderly lady who wanted to buy a little paper angel for her budgie to "play with". Susanne sensed the market for pet supplies and with backing from a supplier who recognised her integrity and enormous energy she moved to larger premises and prospered. Another interest was kindled much someone who had overhead Susanne talking to a customer in the shop about her wartime experiences. He said he wanted to learn morse and Susanne agreed to teach him, but found that instead of it being a one to one instruction he had arranged for her to teach twenty students at Bohunt; all she had to start the class was a battery-operated bellpush and a good memory! She was persuaded to study herself for City and Guilds and Amateur Radio Certificates, leading to her becoming an enthusiastic radio "ham" with her own call sign GODEW.
Meanwhile Mary had joined her mother in the shop when she left school and it was later, when she married Simon Coyte and began her own family, that Susanne decided to retire and come to live in Liphook. Luckily for many young people in the village she saw and responded to an appeal by Archie Deny in the Community Magazine in 1992 for someone to run theatricals in the Village Hall, providing a focus for much needed funding. Susanne's first production was Where the Rainbow Ends, with thirty children taking part and it was a huge success, leading to the formation of a committee and the arrival of LAMPS (Liphook Amateur Productions). It all grew from there with Susanne producing performances of Dazzle, Oliver, Annie and finally in 1999, The Wizard of Oz. It was always Susanne's aim to bring the fun and discipline of acting and music making to as many children as possible and some of her first young actors have gone on to write and produce their own shows as part of their school course work. She was very proud of this continuity and the tradition of excellent production and team work that has grown up with LAMPS. It could not have achieved such a high standard without Susanne's dedication and unquenchable spirit. "I would like a new body – but I feel like 17 inside," she use to say. There is only one way to react to that – raise a glass and cheer!