‘Always smiling and laughing’ ... Eastbourne pays tribute to Audrey

The late Audrey Freemantle. Photograph courtesy of Pamela Spice
The late Audrey Freemantle. Photograph courtesy of Pamela Spice

Audrey Freemantle – well-known and well-loved in the local music, theatre and dance circles – has died.

Pamela Spice said Audrey was ‘the life and soul of parties’ and would be remembered for her ‘infectious smile that tickled our hearts and minds’.

She was a talented pianist, frequent accompanist at the Eastbourne Music Festival and took part in St George’s Day concerts, fancy dress parades, open-air G&S evenings on the Bandstand and legendary street parties at home in Pashley Road.

“Her happy disposition and musical talent were an asset to many groups and societies,” added Pamela. “She might be directing, accompanying, filling in the alto line or delivering a solo – but always bobbing up and down.”

Brenda Gower, of Eastbourne Gilbert and Sullivan Society, said, “Audrey brought her considerable talents to the society for many years: musical director, accompanist and countless leading roles on stage.

“Her sparkling personality shone through in everything she did.”

June Still, of Sussex Old Time Music Hall, recalls Audrey as the ‘musical hub’ for many local artistes and as compere of the celebrated 1980s Sunday Night Concerts at the Winter Garden and Bandstand.

Dance principal Ann Ford remembers Audrey for ‘her sunny nature, always happy and smiling’, as a gifted professional pianist at the Downside School of Dancing from 1978, and later the Eastbourne Academy of Dancing through until her retirement in 2002.

Malcolm Webster, of the Friends of the Devonshire Park Theatre, recalls the privilege and joy of performing with her and her renowned musical quizzes for the Friends.

“Audrey’s patience and encouragement at rehearsals was endless, and her personality shone at every performance,” he said.

From 2001, Audrey had performed consort and hostess duties for Alderman and former Mayor of Eastbourne, Tony Aldridge, after the death of Tony’s wife Jean.

Audrey’s funeral is on October 13, at 2.30pm at Eastbourne Crematorium. Small floral tributes are welcomed, but donations to St Wilfrid’s Hospice preferred.