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Ex-Norwich nurse dies in United States

PUBLISHED: 06:00 19 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:15 02 July 2010

Peter Walsh

A former trainee nurse at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital who went onto become a stalwart of amateur dramatics in the United States has died aged 75.

A former trainee nurse at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital who went onto become a stalwart of amateur dramatics in the United States has died aged 75.

Joan Blanchard, who was born in Cardiff, but lived in Lessingham, near Stalham, and was a former pupil at North Walsham High School.

She had done some amateur dramatics at school and then in Stalham before pursuing her passion over the Atlantic.

The mother of four, grandmother of 10 and great grandmother of six, who died following a long battle with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) has been described today by her sister Elizabeth Borland, 71, from Bowthorpe as a “go getter” who had amateur dramatics “in the blood”.

Mrs Borland said she was proud of her sister and the impact she had on amateur dramatics - particularly in America where she was one of the founder members of the Gallery Players in Burlinton, South Carolina.

She said: “It was in her blood - she loved it. She was always well liked by her friends at school and was always fun to be with.”

Mother-of-four Mrs Borland said she went to be with her sister, who died on January 17, in Elon, near Burlington last month and stayed with her in the days before she died and remained in America for the funeral and memorial service.

Mrs Blanchard met her husband Morris, originally from Louisiana while he was an airman stationed at Sculthorpe, in the early 1950s and the couple were married by her father, the Rev Huw Thomas, rector of Eccles, in 1953.

She led the push to preserve the Paramount Theater before it was taken over by the city of Burlington.

She was a board member, actress, producer and fundraiser with the Gallery Players group and was passionate about reading, writing, and the performing arts.

Mrs Blanchard was a member of the Burlington Writer's Club and during her career also spent time as an editor and columnist for the Burlington Times-News as well as working in radio.

She ended her professional career as manager of the performing arts for the student union at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Would you like to pay tribute to a loved one? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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