A long-time member of Newport Playgoers and leading light of local amateur dramatics has died at the age of 68. Desrae Tucker was passionate about the theatre, and acted in and directed many of the city’s most successful amateur theatrical productions. In January she directed the hugely popular ‘Dad’s Army’ which Playgoers staged at the Dolman Theatre.
Born in Newport in 1944, Desrae loved dancing as a young girl and won gold medals for her performance as a ballroom dancer. She was educated at Duffryn High School and obtained her teaching certificate at Caerleon College of Education.
After teaching in several local primary schools she returned to Duffryn to teach English and Drama. After gaining an Honours degree from the Open University, she taught at Bettws High School and from there went on to be appointed head of the English and Drama department at Brynmawr Comprehensive School, where she ended her career as a highly respected and valued Deputy Head.
Her close friend and fellow Playgoer, Ann Kelly, said, “To Des, teaching was a vocation and she considered helping young people to achieve their full potential to be an honour and a privilege. Her past pupils and former colleagues all remember her with great affection and gratitude.”
Outside work, Desrae loved theatre and, as well as directing many productions for Newport Pantomime Society, was a member of Newport Playgoers for over 40 years and a founder member of Dolman Youth Theatre. In her time she acted, organised props, prompted, assisted and directed plays, worked backstage and could, if pressed, organise sound and lights. Her last theatrical success was ‘Dad’s Army’, a triumph of characterisation, timing and team work as well as great fun for everyone involved.
Desrae also busied herself in many other areas of local life. She was a past regional president of the N.U.T. and a past president of the local branch of the Soroptimists – a women’s organisation working to better lives for women in this country and abroad. In addition she was an active member of Newport Rotary Club whose focus on community and international service she supported enthusiastically. She was also secretary of the Newport Photographic Club and was a keen and highly accomplished photographer.
“Above all Desrae was a loving daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and friend,” added Ann Kelly. “Her passing has left a huge hole in many lives.”