TRIBUTES have been pouring in for the longest serving member of the Worcester Operatic & Dramatic Society (WODS), Sonia Armstrong who has died.

Mrs Armstrong died at the age of 89 and a funeral service, conducted by The Venerable Robert Jones Archdeacon of Worcester, was held at Worcester Crematorium on June 14.

Mrs Armstrong’s eulogy was presented by Bruce Wyatt, a past president and life member of WODS.

“But it didn’t matter in whatever capacity she was on stage - she oozed confidence and talent and you knew things would be ok”, he said.

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"Sonia will be remembered for her talent, inspiration and enthusiasm by everyone she met.

"Sonia frequently appeared in plays at the Swan Theatre, as well as keeping time for her other interests of painting, gardening, school reunions, volunteering at the local hospital and in more recent years the civic society."

Mrs Armstrong, of Britannia Square in Worcester, joined the society 73 years ago, immediately after the war, and first appeared in ‘The Desert Song’ staged at the Theatre Royal Worcester.

She went on to demonstrate her considerable talent and professionalism as a solo dancer and in a number of leading and supporting roles; serving on the WODS committee including a period as secretary, later elected as president and a life member, supporting the Youth Group WODYS as their secretary and a fantastic mentor to many.

Mrs Armstrong’s first principal role with WODS was as ‘Ado Annie’ in the 1956 production of Oklahoma!

The then Worcester Evening News & Times reported “that the role of Ado Annie can easily go wrong if the right person is not found.

"But Sonia Davis, a dynamic personality, was excellent as the dumb blond.”

Mrs Armstrong’s first leading role soon followed with another Annie - in Annie Get Your Gun, in 1958. Further successes followed including the roles of Nellie Forbush, (South Pacific) Babe Williams (The Pajama Game), Lois Lane (Kiss Me Kate!), Calamity Jane in Calamity Jane, Sally Adams (Call Me Madam), Geraldine O’Dare (Irene), Charity Hope Valentine (Sweet Charity), Nancy (Oliver) and in 1972 and again in 1988 Dolly Levi (Hello Dolly).

Outside WODS, Mrs Armstrong worked at Heenan & Froude and then for many years a secretary to John Hole the artistic director at the Swan Theatre, in addition to arranging fundraising events for the theatre.

There she met David Wood a now world famous author of children’s books, who has acknowledged that she was his inspiration to start writing those children’s books.

WODS is staging a concert in memory of Mrs Armstrong at its rehearsal rooms in Northfield Street on November15, 16 and 17.

The concert is to feature many of the shows that she will be remembered for.

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