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Oliver Williams
Oliver Williams

Colin Pinney writes:

It is with profound regret that I have to announce the deaths on consecutive days of two of our members Oliver Williams and Jeremy Trafford (tributes to Jeremy).

Our secretary Oliver Clement John Williams, died on Saturday 28 March 2020 from Covid-19 following a successful operation, to fix a complication from earlier bowel cancer surgery. (Jessica Williams’ harrowing account of her father’s death.)

Oliver joined the Society in the late nineties and within two years was asked to read Iago in Othello, Shakespeare’s longest role. He was elected secretary in 2014 and immediately proved himself a popular and extremely capable administrator, having to preside over the complete computerisation of all our records including the cast-lists of all 38 plays.

Besides administration, Oliver was recognized as an actor of talent and has read most of the major Shakespeare roles at our meetings. He also acted as caster for many of our readings, possessing a shrewd knowledge of members’ suitability for the various roles. The committee were also always grateful for the hospitality he provided for their meetings.

Outside the SRS, he was in demand as an actor, playing Prospero for the Woodhouse players in Leytonstone and regularly taking part in the Christmas Mystery Plays for the Players of St Peter every year since 2001.

The society was concerned when Oliver suffered a bout of illness in 2018 and there was considerable applause when he recovered and returned to our meetings. Now we can only express our grief, having lost a friend and mainstay of our Society.

Tributes below are in alphabetical order of surname of contributor.

Violetta Barzankian-Kaydan

Thank you for your e-mail. I am so sorry to hear of Oliver's passing. I can see he was deservedly well thought off and loved and he will be greatly missed.

My personal experience was short but well appreciated. Oliver welcomed me back to the SRS after very many years of absence. May his soul rest in peace.

Best to all in these strange an difficult times. Till we meet again. Violetta

Jill Batty

Dear Colin, How sad that you have had to send these emails in close succession. Both Jeremy and Oliver were truly well respected members of long standing.

Carla Boss

Oh dear! Very sorry to hear! Oliver will be greatly missed!

Stephen Bradley

I am so so sorry to hear this what a shock. My thoughts and love go out to all of his family during this time.

Diana Brooks

So sorry to hear this, Colin. I didn't know Oliver well, but we had some pleasant conversations and once discovered that both his daughter and my son-in-law both worked at the Guardian. Well, my son-in-law still does - a key worker as is my daughter. Do you have Oliver's daughter's email so that we can write to her?

Tony Butler

How terrible. Oliver was such a self-effacing good guy as well as a good actor (last seen as John of Gaunt in the summer show in Walthamstow) but a friend whom I often shared things with. What a shock. He has a daughter and recently became a grandfather. Oh dear oh dear. And I am locked in and supposed not to go out - but funerals I think don't forbid? But it may not be wise. What a loss. I knew he was going into hospital again but … Sad, Tony

Chris Cummins

I am very sorry to hear that Oliver has passed away. I have fond memories of him not only at the Shakespeare Society, but from the Players of St Peter’s Mystery Plays and The Greek Amphitheatre at Walthamstow. There is a lady who lives in my block of flats, Fran Loze, who provided the music for one of the Shakespearean productions that he appeared in at the Greek Theatre. I will let her know. He was a stalwart of the Shakespeare Society and his friendship and expertise will be sorely missed.

May He Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory. I hope we can all meet again soon.

Penny Dudley

I am shocked so sorry to hear this and sad but I do truly hope he did not suffer much before he passed on. At least he was spared this current terrifying virus.

Oliver was a dear soul at heart a loyal SRS committee member and a joy to have around. He was excellent in the Christmas Mystery play too and gave some super readings.

Roger W. Haworth

Tragic news. He will be sadly missed by all the groups he was involved with. Woodhouse Players tribute slideshow.

totorn This image is a link to a larger version.
“Have donne! Those bookes were rent and torne. For hee shalbe noe kinge in crowne.”
King Herod (Oliver Williams but in the programme as Oliver Clement) scatters the scrolls that the Doctor of Law (Deborah Pollard) has been reading from because he does not like the way that they prophecy the coming of Christ.
A shot from the Players of St Peter 2013 production of The Vinters’ Play of The Kings and Herod from the Chester Cycle.
More photos

Anthony Herrick

Very sad to hear the news about Oliver. I hope you're looking after yourself, Colin. These are difficult times.

Dorothy Holmes

Double shock. I feel very sad two wonderful people.

Carrolle Jamieson to Rachel Williams

Dear Rachel; I am so sorry to hear of Oliver's loss. A very tiny consolations is that he will not undergo the horrors of our current isolated life, but that is not much consolation to those of us who will never see him again.

God bless you, and may Oliver rest in peace and rise in glory.

Carolyn Lyle

I am so sorry to hear this. In my experience, Oliver was as kind as he was wise and talented and although I did not know him very long, his death will be a real loss to me personally.

Is there some way I can send a message of condolence to his family?

Hayward Morse,

Thank you for letting us know the sad news. Oliver will, indeed, be greatly missed. My loving condolences go out to his family and friends. In sympathy and with hopes for all the members' good health at this challenging time. Please stay safe, Hayward

Roli Okorodudu

Just to let you all know I was honoured to attend Oliver’s funeral on behalf of the SRS committee today. The venue was bursting with blossoms and the gardens were full of blooming spring flowers and shrubs. Yes it was odd not being close due to Covid-19 restrictions - sitting alone in a row but I like others attending were very welcomed.

Oliver’s story and contribution to SRS was shared by Jackie Withnail friend from the Woodhouse Players. She spoke so well and sharing stories of Oliver’s acting and friendship. Oliver had one daughter Rachel who organised it all - many relatives could not attend.

Attached copy of the service -beautiful chosen words and photographs. After the service we all had a stroll through the gardens and shared Oliver stories.

Bernard O’Sullivan

Dear Colin. Very sad news indeed. Bernard

Roger Sansom.

Thank you, Colin, for passing on this sad news. I am profoundly shocked, but not altogether surprised. From casting the reading of Measure for Measure (of course, suspended), I have had quite a correspondence with Oliver lately, and - in the ironic way of these things - I felt we were getting to know each other in a more personal way. I had an uneasy feeling about his health prospects.

I first knew him as Oliver Clement - for some reason he used one of his middle names like a surname for acting publicly - in the very interesting Shakespeare productions put on at the open air amphitheatre at a Walthamstow school; “The Greek”. I have also been to see him on stage in Leytonstone, and a number of times in the Biblical performances done by the Players of St Peter.

He was most helpful to me over casting the readings of King Lear; last year and the proposed Measure of this year, whose projected cast is with further irony on the computer desk as I write.

Oddly I know nothing of Oliver's personal circumstances, but of course the Committee must know and I'm sure all members will in principle join with any appropriate condolence messages. Oliver will be missed.

Sincere good wishes to everyone at this already rather unhappy time – Roger

Tanya Winsor

Thank you Colin, I hope you are ok and thank you for letting me know.

I am very sad about this news and will reply properly when I have regained my composure. Oliver was such a sweet, lovely person who always showed me great kindness.