Davina Beswick

Born: May 2nd 1935 Shanghai
Deceased: 1st August 2018, Sudbury Suffolk.

Only child of Elfreda (nee Cole, a RN engineer) and father Leonard (of Derbyshire yeomanry). They were displaced, captured and interned by the Japanese occupation. In 1945 Davina attended the party for liberated camp children on board HMS Belfast (Imperial War Museum photo archive).

Returning to Manchester and reunited with her father, Davina was settled and grew up at Whaley Bridge, before her parents eventually moved to Cowplain, Hants. to be nearer to the naval community, on Leonard’s retirement, and as his health deteriorated.

At Bristol Old Vic School Davina met her future spouse Michael Graham Cox (actor). They married in 1963 (sole issue Dominic Graham Hadland, born 6th October). The wedding was attended by many thespians including Susan Engel, Sylvestor Morand, Michael McStay, Tony Osoba, Cooksie Gordon, Douglas Livingstone, Jane Morgan. The marriage was short lived, and they separated in 1964, Davina retiring from a theatrical career for health reasons.

Away from the stage, Davina went on to work as PA to George Roman at Tyne Tees TV and then at the new Billingham Forum. In 1969 she returned to London with her partner Robin Lewis Piper, a stage manager, activist, later becoming a renowned psychotherapist, and chair of the Hampstead Association at the Tavistock Clinic. Davina’s childhood experiences at the hands of Japanese camp guards provided much material for his training, but they separated in 1975.

Staying in Hamsptead and close to her academic second cousin Dr Brenda Swann, Davina turned to working as a costumier for Monty Berman at Camden Town, a job she enjoyed, where she frequently encountered her former colleagues in theatre.

She retired in 1994 to Sudbury, Suffolk (at her mother’s house overlooking her beloved water meadows), where she resided with her partner, Norman Francis Keeble, a military veteran from Felixstowe, whom she had married in 1982, at Camden Town Hall.

All enquiries to: Jeremy Swann (executor) – 52 Albacore Cresc. London SE13 7HP; jeremy.swann@ntlworld.com; 0208 473 0779

Past productions

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