TRIBUTES have been paid to a stalwart of York’s theatre scene who has died aged 91.

Mavis Massheder was born Mavis Walker in 1929 in Nunnery Lane and moved to Haxby aged three with her parents Thomas and Lillian, to take over the then small village fish and chip shop, and is now Millers.

She was the second eldest of four children along with sister Joyce and brothers Jack and Geoffrey. She attended Haxby Memorial Hall School, Joseph Rowntree School and graduated to the Yorkshire School of Commerce.

On a day trip to Scarborough in late 1940 Mavis met Norman Massheder and in July 1950 they married and moved to York Road, Haxby where they lived for more than 50 years, until Norman died in 2006.

In 1945 Mavis joined Charles E Mills and Sons (agricultural merchant) in Gillygate as an office junior and progressed in the company reaching the position of company secretary and co-director in the late 60’s. After 40 years with the company Mavis was presented with a long service award at the Yorkshire Show.

Mavis’ love of music led her to audition for New Earswick Amateur and Dramatic Society (now NE Musicals) with her first stage appearance in 1954 in the chorus of “The Gondoliers”. She remained a key member of the society and in 1969 was elected chairperson. Mavis steered the company through the many ups and downs and difficult times the theatre industry experienced over the following 45 years.

Mavis was also a Trustee of New Earswick Community Association and devoted volunteer for charities in York including 13 years for St Leonard’s Hospice. In 2007, as a reward for her charity work and service to amateur theatre she was invited by the Queen to a garden party at Buckingham Palace, which she attended with her niece Susan.

In 2007 Mavis moved to a smaller property in Haxby while still very much involved in NE musicals and Rowntree theatre, in 2019 she’s celebrated her 90th Birthday.

NE Musicals current chairman Steven Tearle said: “Mavis was the backbone of the New Earswick community, always; faithful, truthful, loyal and honest.

"A true inspiration to so many people.

"As Chairperson for over 45 years she knew the York theatre like no one else and made many lifelong friendships through the theatre. Mavis never missed a NE Musicals production in over 60 years. We are all humbled and rejoice in the fact we knew her. Mavis we will miss you.”

Her nephew, Alan Craggs said: “Mavis’ passion for the theatre rubbed off on her family and she was thrilled and proud when her great-nieces were involved in many shows produced at Rowntree Theatre. In 2014 Aunty Mavis became Honorary President after she had been Chairperson for 45 years, managing to keep the society afloat and devoting over 60 years of her life as a member. To me, she was always someone to go to for good advice and I think the societies, associations and charities she was involved with would very much benefit from her common sense, caring, honest approach.”

Chair of Trustees Joseph Rowntree Theatre, Dan Shrimpton, said: “Over the many years I have known Mavis she has always had a sparkle in her eye and fantastic level of commitment. Mavis was a pillar of the community theatre scene in York for so many years and her chairmanship of New Earswick Musical Society / NE Musicals was done with a massive amount of support for everyone taking part to produce great shows. Mavis will be missed by all who knew her.”

Mavis died from natural causes in York Hospital on September 1.

Her funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church, Haxby on Friday (September 18) at 2.15pm for those wishing to pay their respects outside, as the service has a maximum capacity of 30 people. Click here to make donations to St Leonards Hospice or click here to donate to the Joseph Rowntree Save Our Theatre Fund.