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Obituary: Patricia Yardley

Patricia Yardley, former principal of Birmingham School of Acting

Patricia Yardley is synonymous with Birmingham School of Acting, the school founded in 1936 by her mother, Pamela Chapman. Working at the school from the 1960s, she became its inspirational principal in the 1980s until her retirement in 2000. Today, as part of the Conservatoire at Birmingham City University, the school remains as her legacy to both Birmingham and drama training.

Patricia trained in Greek dance, mime and drama at the Ginner-Mawer School, London. As a young woman she worked as a peripatetic teacher in schools across the Midlands.

Her mother founded Birmingham School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art when Patricia was a young child. It changed its name and moved location several times before its current home, where the Patricia Yardley Studio ensures her name is remembered.

Patricia worked tirelessly for the school, teaching, directing and overseeing all aspects of its training and student welfare on both its full and part-time courses. The school was a founding member of the Conference of Drama Schools and National Council for Drama Training (then Drama UK).

Determined that vocational drama training should survive, her vision for the school to become part of the city’s university saw her mortgaging her home. It was achieved in 2005.

In the 1950s she began directing an amateur dramatic group, the Burlington Players. Often describing them as her family, long after the group stopped performing they would holiday together along with their children.

Patricia ‘Patsy’ Yardley made a difference to many people’s lives, encouraging staff, students and graduates to achieve their full potential. She was born on November 10, 1930 and died on February 21, aged 86.

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