Logo: Diana Raffle
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Diana Raffle was born in Bellshill, near Glasgow, in 1966. She was adopted by English parents, who moved to the south of England soon after her birth and she was brought up in Maidstone in Kent, where she was educated at Coxheath Junior School and subsequently at Invicta Grammar School for Girls. Her earliest involvement in drama took place at the age of four, when she and a friend covered themselves (and their clothes) from head to toe in red paint - perhaps her first attempt at stage makeup! It wasn't long before she got more involved in the real thing and at the age of eleven, she wrote and directed her first play for her fellow pupils at Coxheath Junior School.
Sadly at senior school, she was discouraged from getting involved in drama and took the more traditional school subjects. However, her love of writing was not completely suppressed and on more than one occasion, she had items published in the 'Jackie' magazine for girls. She also had several poems published in poetry books in the subsequent years. On leaving school, she gained employment in London for several years, working for Boots, Sea Containers, the Orient Express and the Bank of Japan in secretarial and administrative roles.
In 1994, she stopped working to start a family and it was shortly after the birth of her second child in 1996 that she rekindled her interest in drama, by joining The Willington Players, a local dramatic society in her home town of Maidstone. She soon realised just how much she had missed drama throughout her life and quickly made amends by getting heavily involved both treading the boards and back stage. She made a name for herself in the society for her management of props and gained an award for 'Best Dressed Set' in the Willington Players' production of J.B. Priestley's 'Dangerous Corner' in their 1997 entry to the Kent Drama Festival. She also went on to act at Maidstone's Hazlitt Theatre in productions of 'Habeas Corpus' (by Alan Bennett), 'Rumours' (by Neil Simon), 'Halfway up the Tree' (by Peter Ustinov) and 'Hay Fever' (by Noel Coward). The highlight of her acting career was 'Best Actress Award' for her portayal of Rita in Sue Townsend's 'Womberang' in the Duncan Rand One Act Play Festival at Rochester's Medway Little Theatre in 1998.
However, writing was her true love and she started writing one act plays for The Willington Players to perform. Her first, called 'Payment Unkind', was performed in 1997 at the Medway Little Theatre. Many more followed and she was encouraged to submit some scripts to the London publisher Samuel French Ltd. To her delight, she had her first one act play published, 'Blue Suede Blues'. Tragically, this success coincided with a major setback, when in 2002 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Given that the disease was at an advanced stage of development, she knew she had limited time to write and produce more plays, but her new found talent was prolific.
In the next five years, she produced many works which included a children's novel 'Moondragon', two plays for Detling Players' youth group called 'Twenty Minutes' and 'Grave Deeds', four nativity plays for St. Philip's Church, Maidstone and a list of full length and one act plays, many of which were performed by The Willington Players and other local drama groups including Theatre 2000. The list included 'Ten Charlies and a Chaplain', 'Fairway to Heaven', 'And Then There Were Nuns', 'Round the Houses', 'Payment Unkind', 'Blue Suede Blues', 'Camp Confidence', 'The Canary Cage', 'French Toast', 'The Offence', 'Heaven's Above', 'Murder Amongst Friends', 'Murder by Design', 'Stop and Run', 'Shells', 'Fourplay' and 'Jam and Dame Judy', many of which are published by Samuel French Ltd and Stagescripts Ltd.
Sadly, Diana lost her battle with breast cancer in November 2007, aged just 41. Ironically, she died during the week when The Willington Players were performing her last farce (Round the Houses). Diana is survived by her husband Scott and three children, Callum, Lucy and Isobel. Although her life was cut short, Scott and the family are happy in the knowledge that her memory will live on in so many of her published plays.
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