Peggy leaves a lasting impact on the town

Peggy Lester, known to many for her involvement with Banbury Cross Players, has died. She was 93.nnnnn NNL-160215-155635001
Peggy Lester, known to many for her involvement with Banbury Cross Players, has died. She was 93.nnnnn NNL-160215-155635001

One of the founding members of Banbury Cross Players who was part of more than 70 productions, has died aged 93.

Margaret Lester, better known as Peggy, died on February 6 at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury and is largely known for her involvement in the group since the end of the Second World War.

Speaking to the Banbury Guardian on Monday, her son Nik said: “In terms of what she did at Banbury Cross Players, she did absolutely everything, from designing costumes and stage props to directing. The impact she had was fantastic.

“She was very welcoming and friendly towards new people wanting to be part of the group, making them feel wanted and helping to find something they were good at.

“She was also a very creative and caring person. She was like a second mother to many and had a mischievous sense of humour.”

Born in Coventry on July 11, 1922 to Ernest Owen Reed and his wife Winifred, Mrs Lester went to boarding school in Rugby before her father moved the family to Banbury in the early 1930s where he was appointed town clerk.

She worked at Nathan’s Ironmongers in the Market Place and Barclays Bank and was married to her husband, Spencer, in 1943 until his death in 2003.

Her first experience of dramatics was in September 1945 when she joined Banbury Cross Players and played Madeleine Lees in the production Without the Prince.

Until her final involvement in 2002, when she performed in the production of Cider with Rosie, Mrs Lester had 19 acting roles and was involved in 72 productions. She was chairman from 1966 to 1968 and secretary from 1981 to 1987.

She was also a JP for 25 years in Banbury and through her role, she was invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace in the late 1970s, even shaking hands with the Queen.

Mr Lester said: “Through her role she was invited to the palace and I remember driving her into the main courtyard, dropping her off and having to go back into London. It was all very exciting and she always said she really enjoyed that day.”

Mrs Lester and her husband had four children, Richard, Sarah, Nik and Kate, 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

She was a regular face at the 8am communion service at St Mary’s Church on Horsefair and was also a volunteer where she welcomed visitors into the 18th century building.

She was also involved with the Old Bloxhamists and the Carers Society in Banbury.

Mr Lester added: “I think she’ll be remembered as a very caring person. She always made sure you were not left out and that was reflected in what she did for Banbury Cross Players and at the church.

“Family was very important to her too. She liked to have us all around her and would often travel across the world to visit. She also loved going to Banbury Fair. She used to go with her father and would always take us when we were children.”

Her funeral at St Mary’s Church will be held on Monday, February 29 at 2pm.