MUCH-LOVED Lingfield actress has died suddenly aged
76 from a brain haemorrhage.
Shirley Robbins, or
Hal Dyer as she was known in her acting career, had been a resident in the village for 25 years and lived on Felcourt Road.
Shirley was discovered by a close friend lying on
the floor in her home and was rushed to East Surrey Hospital, where she later died.
"She was an absolutely fantastic woman with a great sense of humour," said 43-year-old
son Ben Robbins.
"She will be missed by
everyone, whether she was a friend, mother or grandmother. People will miss her anecdotes and her name-dropping."
After her husband, the actor Michael Robbins, died in 1992 she
opened Browsers Coffee shop in East Grinstead Road, an eclectic mix of books, collectibles, theatrical memorabilia, cake and
Upstairs the mother-of-two managed to
erect a small theatre, which seated about 50, and here she produced a diverse mix of readings, plays, concerts, talks, and
a Christmas pantomime.
It was also here that
she founded The Green Room Theatre Company. With actor David Bromley she worked on the revival of classical theatre and on
new projects, often written by herself.
mother lived for everything and anything theatre-related – she thrived on it," Ben added.
As an actress, she trained at the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama, and became a member of Sir
Barry Jackson's famous Birmingham Rep, playing many leading roles. More followed with seasons in Chesterfield, Bromley,
Salisbury and Windsor.
Her television credits
include A Man For All Seasons, Emergency Ward Ten, Crossroads and guest appearances in Butterflies, The Bill and Whose Life
Is It Anyway?
For four years she was one of
the regulars in the classic BBC children's series Rentaghost playing neighbour Rose Perkins.
Her time in West End theatre included Murder At The Vicarage and Time and The Conways.
"It is such a shock. It was so quick that she passed away,"
"I think a lot of people would
visit her shop to chat to Shirley and hear her endless array of wonderful anecdotes, encompassing her career that was dedicated
to the arts for almost 60 years," he said.
will be missed by members of The Green Room Theatre Company, her close friend Richard, her children Ben Robbins and Sarah
Cliffe and four grandchildren Daniel, Max, Lucy and Joe.
D'Avray, chairman of Lingfield Parish Council, said: "She was a very lovely lady who was a very fine actress and
will be greatly missed."
Her funeral will
take place at St Bernard's Catholic Church in Lingfield on Wednesday, December 21 at 3pm – the same date as her
husband's funeral in 1992.
This will be
followed by a cremation at Surrey and Sussex Crematorium, in Balcombe Road, Crawley at 4.30pm.
The family have said that all those who knew and loved Shirley are welcome to attend.
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