THE funeral service and celebration for the life of Tess Blessett, took place at Deeping St James Priory Church. Tess, formerly of Church Street, Deeping St James, died at Holland House, Market Deeping aged 92.
She was the youngest of seven children, born to Rebecca and Stephen Smith.
Her father was a waggoner in Haconby Fen, but soon the family moved to Dunsby Fen.
At school Tess found her love of acting, her teacher, Mrs Silson, was RADA trained, and Tess took her first acting part as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream aged 10.
After leaving school, she helped on the family farm until her marriage in 1939 to Donald Blessett.
Tess and Don were married for 56 years until Don’s death in 1995.
They had five children Danny, Jim, Marrianne, Robert and Richard. 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
From 1939 Tess lived in Deeping St James, and became well-known in the village, best known for her association with the Priory Players.
She founded the group in 1947, and continued as producer/director until her 90th year and beyond. An amazing 52 years.
In that time the group performed countless plays, musical entertainments and pantomimes, mostly in the Priory Church Hall, despite the cramped conditions, and latterly also in Deepings School.
Hundreds of people were associated with the group, both on stage and behind the scenes.
Now her legacy continues with her granddaughters, Kate Redhead as producer and Louise Meadows as musical director.
Two of her great-grandchildren, Sarah and Joanna, are keen and active members of the group.
Active in the Deeping St James community throughout her time in the village she was founder member of the Church Ladies Fellowship, and also ran the Young Mothers’ Clinic in the 1950s and 1960s to welcome newcomers to the village.
She made sure that the Priory Players always took part in the Deepings Carnival, and the Rose and Sweet Pea Show.
Tess was an enthusiast for life, with a vivacious and outgoing personality.
She had an incredibly wide circle of friends from all walks of life, and all ages.
She was generous with her time, and many people have turned to her for support, encouragement, and words of wise counsel.
She was always good company, and a good conversationalist with an inexhaustible fund of stories and anecdotes at her disposal.
She was the centre of her large family, took a genuine interest in everything they did, and was always prepared to give practical help and support whenever needed.
Above all, she was someone who will long be remembered with love and affection, and often a quiet smile, to all the many who were privileged to have known her.
Family mourners included: Danny, Marrianne, Jim and Brenda, Robert and Elizabeth, Richard and Sheila (children); Neil, Louise, Kate, Victoria, Christopher, Lucy, Sarah, Emma, Ben, Rebecca, Stephen (grandchildren); Tracy, Paul, Andrew, Neil, Adam, Ruth (partners), Jonathan, Sarah, Joanna, James (greatgrandchildren); Janet Bettinson, Irene Compton (representing Mr and Mrs H Gotobed), Pauline Fisker, Andrea Wood, Carole Douglas, Colin and Monica Smith, June Smith.
Sympathisers included: Peter and David Blessett, Eric Harby, Nancy Titman, Anthea Wray, Pat and Pete Farrell, Trevor Prentice (Peter Graham USA), Greta Slimmon (John and Anne), B Redgrave, Pat Abel, Stuart and Linda Hall, Ken Hulse, Susan Laughton (Roma Robson, Australia), Mick and Aleta Miller, Kerrie Pirie (Steph Brimblecombe), Elenna Green, Daphne Foyle, Joan Parsons (Andrew Parsons), Mary Burnes staff Bennett Butchers, Eric Freeman, Bill Armstrong (Betty), Catherine Wrigley (Nathan, Tessa, Samual and Noah), Nick and Diana Sign (Andrea Peek), Evan and Emily, Norman Fear, Susan Baxter, Jan Fisk (Ted Fisk).
Tim Meadows, Joy and Michael Lambell, John Meadows; representing Priory Players - Barry Osborne and Sara Marple, Tony, Angie and Sam Coppin, Jessica Louise Cann, Mrs W B Bellairs (Margaret Flegg), Yvonne Ostler, Jo McAvoy, Helen and Andrew Tiplady, Beryl and John Carpenter, Evelyn and Mick Freshwater and Angie and Jeff Rowell; Pauline Adkins (carers sitter service); Mrs Maggie Peppercorn, Denise Shelbourne and Juliet and Jess Scorfield (Carewatch), Angie Brook, Derek Gardner, Jane Howard, Meg Munns, Clive Hankers.