Secret war role of popular and talented member of drama society

A FORMER secretary of Harrogate Dramatic Society and editor of Harrogate and District Talking Newspaper has died aged 84.

Frances Tudor, known to friends as Gay, had a passion for drama which was reflected in her early career.

She began life in Doncaster with her parents, Digby and Meredith Halcomb. She then attended Cheltenham Ladies’ College and was offered a university place at Oxford.

Instead, she chose to go on to secretarial college and, during World War Two, took her first job with the Special Operations Executive at Bride Hall, near Stevenage.

Working to supply small arms to the French resistance, Mrs Tudor’s colleagues at the SOE included the actor Richard Wattis and James Bond writer Ian Fleming.

She was later head-hunted for a position as private secretary to the presiding judge at the Nuremburg Trials, where she had to sign the Official Secrets Act.

On her return to London, Mrs Tudor had a number of high-flying jobs and came second in a competition to find Britain’s top secretary.

She moved back to Doncaster to be nearer her family, where she met John Tudor through a common passion for amateur dramatics.

The couple were married in 1953 and had two children, Tony and Nicky.

In 1961 the family moved to Harrogate for Mr Tudor’s job, and quickly became involved in Harrogate Dramatic Society.

Mrs Tudor took part in performances both off and on stage, including playing Glenda in a 1990 production of Stepping Out, and was secretary to the group for many years.

As a prop maker, she once hand-painted ten shilling notes that were so realistic they were stolen from the theatre.

She also attended art classes, transcribed hundreds of Australian family letters for publication and constructed a family tree dating back to 1560, without the help of the internet.

After becoming involved with the talking newspaper, Mrs Tudor continued as an editor for 20 years, until just two days before her death.

Mrs Tudor’s three grandsons, Guy, Jonathan and Nicholas, all share her talent for music.

Daughter Nicky said: “They are all very musical and she was very proud of their ability. it would be nice to think they got that from her.”