Gorleston funeral marks passing of Dusmagrik Theatre Company’s co-founder

ST Peter’s Catholic Church had rarely seen a service like it – hundreds seated in its pews and still more lined around its edges to pay their respects to the co-founder of a Gorleston theatrical institution.

It was in the early afternoon of a grey Wednesday that mourners young and old turned out en masse to say farewell to Margaret “Mags” Miller, who had died aged 82, and was best-known locally for her role in Dusmagrik’s Young People’s Theatre Company.

Muted whispers were hushed to silence, save the occasional gurgle of a baby among the mourners, when the willow and flower-topped coffin of Margaret was brought into the church for her Requiem Mass and funeral at 12.45pm.

Outside, the hearse was filled with even more floral tributes, this time arranged affectionately to spell the words “Mum” and “Nan”.

The service began with Father Henry MacCarthy remarking on the large congregation. He told them: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen St Peter’s as full as today.

“This is quite tremendous and it gives us some idea of the love and popularity of Margaret, and it’s a lovely and fitting tribute to her.”

Born in South Wales in 1928, Margaret, right, moved to London before heading to Jerusalem with future husband John Crisp as part of the British Council.

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A mother-of-three, it was after separating from the late Mr Crisp that she moved to Gorleston with her partner Dusty in 1978.

And it was here that they co-founded Dusmagrik in 1985, which they ran until handing it over in 2006, all the while helping raise thousands for charity and giving youngsters their first taste of theatre.

She died on Tuesday, March 1 – St David’s Day – at her home in the town with family by her side.

The funeral saw Margaret return to the place in which she had worshipped for many years – a woman of strong faith, she was well known as a member of the St Peter’s Church congregation.

And, whether fellow members, former drama school pupils, friends or family, all joined in with hymns that included Be Still, For the Presence of The Lord.

Amid the more traditional parts of the service were touching moments of personal tribute, whether in poems by loved ones or words from her son Richard, daughter Sue or Dusty.

And in a fitting finale to the ceremony, The Last Night of The World, from Miss Saigon, was sung by members of the theatre group.

After the Mass, family and friends went on to Gorleston crematorium, followed by a gathering at the Pavilion Theatre in Gorleston.