Dawn Harrison-Wallace. Photo by Michael Smith

16 June 2022

After four years as Chair of the Sedos Board of Trustees (and many years before that on the Management Committee, including a stint as Chair), Dawn Harrison-Wallace has decided to step down, although Dawn will continue to be heavily involved in the Society.

Dawn has been an unwavering advocate for Sedos and her knowledge and commitment will be sorely missed.

At the 2022 Sedos AGM, held on Thursday 9 June 2022, the following letter from Dawn was read out.

A fond farewell, but watch this space!

As some of you may know, rather frustratingly, six weeks ago I was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer, though I’m pleased to say that it was caught early. I won’t bore you with the details – although if you want to know more, please feel free to drop me a line – I’m very up for sharing and raising awareness – but in short, post-surgery, as we rebuild Dawn Mark II, my life has reverted to that of a six week old and currently all revolves around eating, pooping and sleeping every two hours!!! And that is not yet conducive to a Sedos gathering!

Now I’m somewhat hoping – and big thanks to them for doing so – that Dan [Saunders] and Matt [Gould] have covered the essentials of the AGM: thanked the unsung heroes for going above and beyond during the last year with BHG moves, Covid policies and procedures, D&I and Values development – and various other things that have consumed a big part of the non-creative aspect of Sedos. But a huge thank you from me is still I feel called for.

I’d like to thank the great team of Trustees and The Management Committee that have continued to turn the cogs and wheels and make Sedos the great society that it is. In particular thanks to those standing down – Michael Smith and Craig Topp from the Board of Trustees and Peter Foster, Kate Gledhill, Steve King and Lizzie Levett from the Management Committee – and welcome to those who’ve agreed to step up and join us; either as a Trustee or Management Committee member.

So now a little personal sign off…

Sedos has been part of my life since 1989 and when you have trustees who weren’t even born when you did you first show AND you are confident in the team who surround and support you, then perhaps that is a good time to stand down.

It is important to say that standing down was always my intention and not a consequence of my illness. From the outset of the year it had always been my intention to hand over Chair, and allow someone else to take the reins. But finding it difficult to let go of something that’s been such a huge part of both mine and my husband’s Will’s life I had thought I might hang around for a little while longer as a trustee.

However, after a bit of a busy time back in Jan/Feb with various medical tests that, at the time, we thought had ruled out anything sinister, AND with a disused chapel waiting patiently in Cheshire to be converted to a home after a two year Covid delay, I decided that it was time to step back completely.

There really was no need for me to be hovering in the wings like an anxious ASM worrying that the show might somehow grind to a halt.

After a bit more rest and recovery I’ll be ready to put my energy elsewhere - but more importantly there is a whole new generation of energetic, skilled, passionate Sedos crew ready to take on some of the leading roles both on and crucially off stage.

And that’s why back, at the end of April, I was able to email Dan, as my VC, and Matt, as Chair of the Management Committee, and say “Could you just pick up everything for me now?”. When I later emailed all the trustees to explain and was seeking their support, I knew that everything would be more than all right.

Sedos shaped a huge part of both mine and Will’s life in many ways - not only as we met and married through Sedos but also, in 2008 after the Lehman scandal and subsequent financial crash, those many hours treading the boards gave Will the confidence to leave the financial security and buzz of the city and go to drama school and our shared passion, kindled through many hours performing together, gave me the confidence to support him.

Sedos has long been a society for ex-professionals looking for a place to revisit their love of the stage, even after they’ve hung up their professional boots or tap shoes, and increasingly it is a place where would-be pros come to hone their skills, or even test the waters before deciding to brave the world of professional theatre as perhaps a pre-cursor before heading off to drama school.

More and more you’ll be watching TV and remark “Oh, weren’t they in Sedos” or you’ll see former Sedos members share their professional successes on social media.

Just recently Will attended The Annual One Voice Awards at which he and two other Sedossers - Will de Renzy Martin and Jess Nesling - were nominated for awards – with Jess triumphing in the category for best demo voice reel!!

Back in the earlier days Sedos was known in the City as the ‘marriage club’ - and I think this trend has definitely returned. But it’s not just about the marriages. Sedos is a place where lifelong friendships and support networks are formed and that is what has always been important to me and it’s vital that we do all we can to ensure we thrive for many years and that such friendships continue to be built!

And so as I sign off I’d like to thank all of those who have become good lifelong friends for the years of laughter and silliness we’ve enjoyed so far and the biggest thank you goes to my best friend – the dancing waiter to my Sally Bowles – who has tolerated and supported me through my performing, producing, directing and Trusteeing phases of my Sedos life – especially today as we celebrate the fact that 33 years ago today, when after months of late night drinking; pretending to be residents in hotels and going to places that served alcohol in teapots before late night licences became a thing - Will eventually got the hint, and at a last night party we eventually had our first kiss!’

So very Sedos and a very appropriate day to stand down!!

Dawn Harrison-Wallace: montage for retiring chair of trustees

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