ARTIST and theatre director, Doreen Vilma Crabtree, has died aged 91.

Mrs Crabtree was born on May 6, 1929, in the small village of West Haddon, east of Rugby.

The third of four children, she grew up on her parents’ smallholding, helping to care for livestock and grow vegetables.

On finishing high school, she started training to become a nurse.

Due to family ill-health, she never completed her training, and started working in her father’s grocery business and off-licence in Old Bilton.

She danced on Saturday nights, and often joked about being ‘picked up’ by the dashing bank clerk, Geoffrey Crabtree, whom she would later marry on May 28, 1951.

The pair honeymooned in Shanklin, and later spent a family holiday in Ryde.

Mr Crabtree was soon promoted, and the couple, with their first child Susan, moved to Sunbury-on-Thames.

A second daughter ­— Janice ­— arrived in 1957, and the family moved to a larger premises in Ashford, Middlesex, where Sarah was born in 1962.

A further promotion saw them move to Harpenden, Hertfordshire, in 1966.

Mrs Crabtree attended evening classes, where she explored her artistic side and learnt to be a keep fit instructor, running several successful classes.

Mr Crabtree was moved by NatWest Bank to Ventnor in 1971, and Mrs Crabtree worked part-time in Ventnor Pharmacy.

She taught Movement to Music at Ventnor Winter Gardens, and provided ‘armchair’ sessions in residential homes.

Living in St Lawrence, the couple became founder members of the Don Mills Variety Club ­— an amateur dramatics group.

The entire family either performed or supported from backstage, including their sons-in-law, when their daughters got married.

Mrs Crabtree helped to write more productions, which she directed, choreographed and performed.

When the group moved to Ventnor Winter Gardens, it changed its name to Ventnor Theatre Group.

In 1986, the couple moved to Whitwell, where she became a member of the WI.

She survived cancer twice, but lost her husband in 1992, after 41 years of marriage.

In 2006, she moved to Shanklin so she could maintain her independence.

She kept active, and continued to support the theatres in Ventnor and Shanklin.

Mrs Crabtree loved nothing more than to entertain her ever-growing family, cooking and trying new recipes whenever possible ­— especially at Christmas.