Tributes have flooded in following the death of Eastbourne theatre stalwart Dotty Briant at the age of 79.
Dotty was born in Eastbourne and her family say she rarely left the town for more than a few days in 80 years.
She lived with her three older siblings and at Eastbourne High School, Dotty excelled at athletics, gaining county representation in hurdles and sprints.
It was also at this time she found her vocation – the thing that many people in Eastbourne will most remember her for – dance. She was a founder member of Eastbourne Ballet Group under Dys Brooks.
She married Paul Briant in June 1972 and spent her spare time performing in cabaret and with Eastbourne Operatic and Dramatic Society and performed as a dancer until, in 1980 she began to choreograph and then direct shows for young actors.
Initially this was for the Juniors at EODS and then with her own company, Eastbourne Young Stagers.
Paul said, “Dotty started on a journey that has enriched the lives of literally hundreds of young people in her community.
“Over a period of more than 35 years she gave endless hours of her time to ensure generations of local children were offered the opportunity to meet, develop friendships, learn skills and test themselves in a theatrical environment.
“She guided with discipline and strength, but those many hours were fun and rewarding for everyone who took part. She was respected and insisted on commitment and perseverance from all her young actors and dancers. Her energy and character drove many to higher standards than they believed themselves capable of.
“Dotty had a huge impact on a wide range of people. She helped to give many children a focus missing elsewhere in their lives; she produced, directed and choreographed wonderful shows and was recognised by the Rotary Club of Great Britain with the Paul Harris award for the service to the community.”
“She also knew when to take a backward step and encourage new talent to take over her roles in choreographing and directing. She was there at the birth of Eastbourne Stagers; she led it through many exciting and challenging years; and she worked hard to leave it in good hands. Her legacy is a continuing outlet for young people who are engaged by the theatre. A place where they can go to learn, to have fun, to be safe and to sing and dance and act. She loved her Young Stagers, and they in turn have loved her back.”