Tributes paid to 'larger-than-life' theatre finance director

Margaret Smith

Margaret Smith (centre) retired in 2011. She is pictured with Melvin Wallace, Havering mayor at the time and colleague Thom Stanbury - Credit: Suzanne Searle

The family of a theatre finance director are devastated by her unexpected death last month.

Margaret Smith worked at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch for almost 20 years before retiring in 2011.

Romford Recorder Margaret Smith

When Margaret retired in 2011 colleagues said they would miss her fondness for the colour pink - Credit: Romford Recorder/ Queen's Theatre Hornchurch

During that time, her two daughters Suzanne Searle, 53, and Carolyn McCabe, 52, also began working at the theatre, in the box office and front of house respectively, as did several of her grandchildren.

Her son Paul, 56, strayed from family tradition and instead works at Queen’s Hospital as a complaints manager.

Suzanne told the Recorder: “She was always good at her job and was very much respected.

“My mother worked really hard for the theatre and did a lot for them.”

Margaret grew up in Forest Gate and after moving to Harold Wood in the 1980s, she joined the theatre as a financial assistant in 1992 and was later promoted to financial director.

Margaret Smith meeting Queen

Margaret (far left) met the Queen when she visited the Queen's Theatre Hornchurch to mark its 50th birthday - Credit: Queen's Theatre Hornchurch

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Staff at the Queen's Theatre Hornchurch were saddened to hear of her unexpected death.

Marketing manager Sarah Soliman said: "Margaret served for many years as the finance director at the Queen's and continued to support the theatre after her retirement, often attending shows.

"She will be greatly missed by all that worked with her.

"Margaret was a larger-than-life character and will not be forgotten."

Suzanne said Margaret was very proud of her nine grandchildren, her great-grandchild, and another one on the way.

“Once she had retired she just wanted to spend time with them,” she added.

Her mother was also a keen gardener who spent a lot of time perfecting her impressive garden.

Margaret died aged 74 surrounded by her family, including her husband Brian Smith, after spending a week on life support. 

Her death was not Covid-related.

Margaret’s funeral will be held on April 14 and the procession will drive past the Queen’s Theatre soon after midday. 

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