Tributes paid to long-serving theatre stalwart who has died aged 82
- Credit: ARCHANT LIBRARY
A woman who dedicated her entire career to making sure audiences enjoyed their time at the theatre has died aged 82.
Marney Meakin, of Norwich, was well known within the theatre community after spending over three decades in the industry, including 11 years as the front-of-house manager at the Norwich Theatre Royal, and more recently at The Garage.
Marney was born in 1938 in Doncaster into a devout Methodist family, who moved shortly after to the small mining village of Kiveton Park, near Sheffield, where she grew up. A unique name, it was given to her by a cousin who could not pronounce Marjorie properly.
A lifelong connection with the theatre began at the age of three when, as a treat, she was taken to see Goodie Two Shoes. Her mother was also a keen theatre-goer and the weekly shop would often be combined with a matinee show at the Lyceum, where Marney would tag along.
Some of her earliest memories were of wartime England when air-raids, conveys, and waving at soldiers were a way of life.
One memory was when the family had to hide in their cellar during an air raid when a bomb landed in a field outside their house but failed to explode because it sunk into the earth. Marney gave an impromptu nursery rhyme recital to help cheer everyone up.
After she left school, a place she was happy to admit that she did not enjoy, she became an assistant librarian in Worksop public library aged 16.
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Aged 17, she met her husband, Tony Meakin. They married when she was 20, and they moved to Streatham, London, but they would later divorce.
Her first job was in the wedding gift bureau at Harrods but she left when she became a mother for the first time.
Her daughter, Katy, was born in 1961. Two years later, she gave birth to twins, Timothy and Christopher, who unfortunately both died later in life.
Daughter Katy Judd,described her mum as “wonderful”.
She said: “She was loving, kind, giving, and a selfless person. She felt she had been given the best of both worlds – the chance to raise a family and have a rewarding career.
“She dealt with family tragedies with grace and strength. And she was an amazing support to me too.”
Life changed for Marney when the twins turned six and she went to see an all-male production of As You Like It at the Old Vic. Shortly after, she began working there as an usher.
Later, she spent a great deal of time working at the Harlequin Theatre on the lighting board and was eventually promoted at the Old Vic before the National Theatre claimed her as its own.
In 1976, she became assistant house manager and later house manager. And on one occasion, she was introduced to the Queen during a visit.
But after a few more moves, it was in 1992 she became a valued member of the team at the Norwich Theatre Royal, where she worked for more than a decade.
A spokesperson for the theatre said: “We are hugely saddened by the loss of Marney Meakin and send our thoughts to her loved ones and all who were lucky to know her.
“Theatre was a central part of her life and before coming to Norwich she worked at the Northampton Derngate Theatre and had been at the National Theatre and the Old Vic for more than 20 years. She was a much-loved part of the Norwich Theatre community and will be hugely missed.”
And despite retiring in 2003, she went on to work at The Garage theatre, Norwich, with the front-of-house team and taking part in Pilates classes there.
A spokesperson added: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our dear friend Marney.
“She will be missed by all.”
Marney also enjoyed meeting friends, raising awareness for causes close to her heart, volunteering, and acting as a guide for museums.
She died on December 5 and leaves behind her daughter and three grandchildren.