The installation of a new projector has brought back memories of an amateur actress who enjoyed a 60-year career at Ledbury’s Market Theatre.

The family of Barbara Hooper, whose roles for LADS (Ledbury Amateur Dramatic Society) stretched back to 1945, made a generous donation to the theatre following her death late last year at the age of 97.

The money has been used to buy a new laser projector, which is producing a much higher quality picture for the many films and live screenings that are shown at the theatre.

Barbara’s first stage appearances came after being spotted by Eric Williams, who recruited her to help entertain troops and residents throughout the Second World War.

Music hall star Wee Georgie Wood and radio presenter Wilfred Pickles were among those to notice her talents for music, comedy and drama.

Ledbury Reporter: Barbara Hooper in Man About The House in 1951Barbara Hooper in Man About The House in 1951

Barbara’s first LADS appearance came in 1945 in Whilst Parents Sleep and her last came almost 60 years later in 2004.

'Hugely talented actor'

Equally willing to serve offstage than on it, Barbara stepped up from prompt to play a major role in LADS’ 1986 pantomime, Cinderella.

The production had already been dogged by sickness when one of the Ugly Sisters was taken ill on the day before the final dress rehearsal.

Ledbury Reporter: Barbara in Mother Goose's Golden Christmas in 1982Barbara in Mother Goose's Golden Christmas in 1982

Barbara stepped in and filled the role after only one rehearsal, saying it was lucky she already knew the script from prompting other actors during rehearsals.

Paul Graham, artistic director at the Market Theatre, said: “Barbara played a huge part in the history of LADS, gracing its various stages for 60 years from just after the war and into the 21st century with the opening of the new Market Theatre.

Ledbury Reporter: Barbara in Gosforth's Fete in 1999Barbara in Gosforth's Fete in 1999

“She was also a long standing LADS trustee. Not only was she a hugely talented actor, but she was always a very popular cast member and very generous with her advice and guidance for younger and less experienced actors. She is sadly missed.”