Shining light on Doreen’s past

Doreen Horsman
Doreen Horsman

Doreen Horsman was a woman with many strings to her bow.

From an early age, she was a talented pianist and played at a Methodist Chapel close to where she grew up in Robin Hood.

Her musical skills stayed with her throughout her adulthood, and Dolly, as she was usually known, spent many years as the honourary assistant accompanist to the West Riding Operatic Society.

The role saw her perform in shows including musical plays White Horse Inn and Night in Venice at Wakefield theatres and cinemas - and she played the organ at Wakefield Theatre when it was still gas lit.

Dolly, who was born at her grandparent’s house at Edwards Street, Altofts in May 1919, trained as a hairdresser after completing her schooling.

She was apprenticed to Wemyss, a ‘high class ladies’ hairdresser’ in Leeds from 1934.

Around this time, Dolly also worked as a cinema usherette, where she met her future husband, a then film projectionist.

The couple, who married in 1943, spent several years living at the Art Gallery on Wentworth Terrace, maintaining the premises and curating its contents.

Dolly also pursued an interest in archery. She represented Wakefield Archers at the Northern Counties Archery Society tournaments, winning a 1st handicap medal in 1960.

Meanwhile, her working life saw her employed by Wakefield Council for more than 25 years, latterly in the education department. When she retired in 1983, she was presented with a commemorative certificate for “loyal and devoted service”.

Sarah Cobham, who is leading the Forgotten Women of Wakefield Project, which is supported by the Express, to tell the stories of our city’s inspirational females.

She said: “Doreen showed great versatility and creativity.

“Her engagement in the wider community must have given a great deal of inspiration to other women.

“Without knowing it, Doreen will have touched the lives of many people and for that I am so happy to be able to bring her out of Wakefield’s past proudly and shine a light on her kindness, dedication and talent.”