On a blowy winter’s day, I attended the Celebration of the Life of Jill Colby, a much loved and greatly admired GoDA colleague. Colin Dolley, Jo and Gordon Crossley also attended.
The service did much to conjure the vibrant personality that had been Jill, clearly beloved of her three siblings and three daughters. They remembered her fondly – Jill’s brother Ian, sent off to boarding school, carried a photo of Jill in his breast pocket, passing her off as his girlfriend. His mates were suitably impressed!
Jill trained at Webber Douglas, where she met and married her husband of fifty years, Tony. The pair of them made headlines appearing in Bournemouth in The Honeymoon Couple whilst actually on their own working honeymoon. As a young actress and ASM, Jill was taken under Vivian Leigh’s wing and later on, when Jill made an understudy appearance as Nerissa in The Merchant of Venice at The Haymarket, she was visited by none other than Laurence Olivier who had come to see his old pal Ralph Richardson play Shylock and who dropped in to congratulate Jill on her performance.
As Jill’s family life took over, she moved into teaching, becoming Head of Acting at Webber Douglas as well as travelling all over the world as a speech and drama examiner. She joined GoDA and quickly established herself as one of the Guild’s leading lights. She was always fair, inspiring and so very constructive in her adjudications, particularly with the younger and student groups she encountered. Her last role with us on GoDA Council was of Professional Mentor, a title she hated, but none of us could come up with a title that better explained her role in supporting and being responsible for the development and training of new adjudicators as they took their first steps in this demanding and often lonely profession. She was so very good at it, too, having a wealth of experience to bring to bear, as well as a wonderful empathy with the people she dealt with. We miss her - and those of us that had the great pleasure of knowing her, will miss that wonderful smile, a smile that could light up any room.
Jan Palmer Sayer