Obituary: Miss E. A. Abbott

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Miss Elizabeth Anne Abbott (Anne), of Gladstone Terrace, Grantham, has died. She was 81.

Miss Abbott was born at the family home in Eaton, on July 31, 1931.

She leaves her partner, Alan Hubbard, sisters Jean Oakley and Pat Ireland and their families.

She attended Cairn Holt Kindergarten in Melton Mowbray and when the school closed at the outbreak of the Second World War, she went to the grammar school a year early at the age of eight.

It was while in Melton Mowbray, and later at Overstone School, that she developed a real lasting love for music, in particular for singing and the piano.

Her first solo performance was in her village church in Branston at the age of 16.

On leaving school she continued her musical education with weekly lessons in Nottingham with Madame Lehaye, for singing, and Louden Merry, for piano.

Later, in London, she had lessons with the famous pianist and teacher Prof Max Pirani.

Leyland White, a baritone who was a regular performer at the Proms in the late 1920s and early 1930s, also provided her with additional singing tuition.

While singing with the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra, she met a member of the newly-formed Cambridge University Operatic Society, who were looking for a soprano to take the lead in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Sir John in Love.

This subsequently led on to an invitation to perform in The Rakes Progress in Cambridge in December 1956, the first performance of this opera in England.

Mr Vaughan Williams was president of the University Operatic Society and Miss Abbott was the fortunate recipient of a Vaughan Williams bursary, which allowed her to gain additional tutoring with Paul Hamburger to perfect her German operatic singing, and also with Melee for Italian and French singing.

Miss Abbott then progressed to a role at Sadlers Wells, in A Tale of Two Cities and appeared on the front cover of the magazine Opera, in September 1957.

She went on to play the role of Pamina in the Magic Flute in Birmingham; Mimi in La Boheme at the Royal Festival Hallas well as performing with Janet Baker in an oratorio in Nottingham, and other Cambridge performances.

Just before her 21st birthday she was given a grand piano by her father and thus began her teaching career which spanned 60 years, starting at the age of 21 and continuing until May of this year.

She taught both piano and singing around the Grantham area and it is for her excellent and enthusiastic teaching that she will be most remembered and missed.

Several of her pupils rose to national and international status, which gave her huge satisfaction and she gained much enjoyment from Jane Eaglan’s world renowned success.

One of her pupils, Nicola Pulford, sang in the Messiah for Grantham Choral Society’s 50th year celebrations at St Wulfram’s Church this year, the same role that Miss Abbott had sung in 1963, for the Quincentenary of the granting of the Town’s Charter.

While teaching she continued her singing career until the late 1970s.

A member of Grantham Music Club, she was also one of the cornerstones of the annual Grantham Music Festival.

She became a valued member of the organising committee, finding adjudicators and choosing set pieces as well as being a great force in later years in keeping the festival going and introducing new committee members.

Miss Abbott possessed a great sense of humour and always showed genuine interests and concern in the lives of her family. Her warmth, empathy and ability to communicate openly and honestly, was put to great use in her musical teaching.

A Service of Thanksgiving for her life was held at St Wulfram’s Church in Grantham, conducted by The Rev John Cook.

Three of her past pupils, Joanne Locking, Helen Winter and Lauren Broxholme, accompanied by Geoff Winter, sang in her memory.

Family mourners included: Alan Hubbard, George and Pat Ireland, Jean Oakley, Robert and Margaret Oakley, Edward and Carolyn Cox, Stephen and Cindy Ireland, Paul and Sue Ireland, Nigel Hubbard, Tony and Julie Colbeck, Nicola Reddy, James Oakley, Victoria, Jessica and Philippa Ireland, Katie Elias, Ken and Rosemary Pike, Mrs S. Manison, Miss Manison, Elizabeth Carter.

Other mourners included: Helen Winter, Cecilia Winter, Geoffrey Winter, Yvonne Guyher, Angela Pykett, Bob and Betty Dodds, Yvonne Carter, Karen Pashley, Bob Croft, Joanne Locking, Roger York, Betty Elmer, Alwyn Baggaley, Rosemary Coles, Madge Stenson, Colin and Rita Smith, Iris Wittington, John and Ron Parry, Norman Locking, Patricia Platt, Dr and Mrs Telford, Pat Watson, Lucille Pritchard, Maryan Nussey, Samantha Toon, Jill Boyle, Susan Stagg, Cathy Smith, Pauline and Denhys Lambley, Philip Slane and Penelope Howse, Roger and May Sleigh, Brian Stagg, Roland Roberts, Karen Rigby, Natasha Rigby, Lauren Fielder, Lesley Broxholme, Jodie Henderson, Alison Paxton, Mike and Karin Toon, Dr Mark Pearce and family, Sally Bauer, Louise Cannon, Pete and Deb Nicholson, Brenda Windle, Maurice Payne, Judith Potter, Emilee Hudghton, Richard and Elizabeth Hazelwood, Mr A. Geeson, Mr J. Edwards, Mrs T. Troop, Mr and Mrs Kerr, Mr and Mrs Keightley, Mr J. Troke, Mr G. Hooper, Miss R. Locking, Mrs B. Maplethorpe, Mrs A. Shaw, Mr and Mrs D. Duke Evans, Mrs A. Cole, Mr and Mrs J. Down, Mr G. Riley, Mrs M. Necklen, Mr J. Wood, Mr P. Hawthorne, Mr Necklen, Mrs N. Pulford, Mrs T. Mequillan, Mrs S. Marshall, Mrs T. Daniels, Mrs C. Midgley, Mrs A. Thomas, Mrs B. Hubbard, Mr M. Hubbard, J. Langdon, Miss G. Langdon, Mrs H. Bradstock, Miss I. Bradstock, Mrs E. Bowskill, Mr G. Singhania, Miss D. Singhania, Mr Grain and Mr and Mrs J. Robinson.

Funeral arrangements were by Geesons of Westgate, Grantham. Donations for Macmillan Nurses, Marie Curie Cancer Care and the St Barnabas Hospice amount to £1,263.70 to date.