Tributes paid to former Sidmouth trader

Dancer, seamstress and antiques expert - Sidmouth says farewell to Dorothy Hartnell

MANY in Sidmouth knew Dorothy Hartnell for her work with the Chamber of Commerce and as Poppy Appeal organiser for the Royal British Legion.

But there was more to Dorothy, 89, who died last Tuesday, than met the eye.

Born in Shipley, Yorkshire, Dorothy was a talented dancer. At 14 she left school, completed a dressmaking apprenticeship and ran her own dancing school.

Youngest daughter Lee Glanville, the Herald’s sports editor, said: “She had the chance to pursue a ballet career, but her mother would not let her.

“When war broke out she was faced with either working in a munitions factory or joining up.”

Dorothy joined the ATS, serving as a physical training instructor.

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Lee said: “As always, clothes were important to her, and on her first weekend leave she completely re-made her uniform to give it a ‘designer’ fit.”

Her elegant appearance is remembered by close friends Pat and Alan Parrish and Joy and Colin Seward.

Sadly, Dorothy’s first of four daughters, Susan, died aged 15 months and daughter Jenny died 10 years ago.

Dorothy was widowed 40 years ago, around the time she moved to Sidmouth to run an antiques business in Mill Street, with Pat and Alan as neighbours in Tile and Pine.

She then ran Gallery 21, Fore Street and was chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce from 1987 to 1989.

She ran its Christmas decorated window contest and ensured, with Pat, shops displayed Christmas trees.

Former Chamber chairman, Chris Taylor, said: “She was always very active. She attended all the meetings and was always ready to give any help and advice that was required.

“When I was chairman, she and Pat organised the Chamber dinner at the Victoria Hotel, which always ran smoothly.

“She was a great lady, who liked to laugh, but there was a serious side to her when it came to business.”

Sylvia Brownlee, Chamber secretary added: “She and Pat were responsible for raising thousands of pounds over the years towards the Christmas Lights through their renowned annual dinner dance raffles.”

Pat and Alan were Dorothy’s friends for 30 years and said she liked to have them around to support her, calling them the ‘A-team’.

“She was a good cook and loved to entertain,” said Pat. “She was always game to do anything different.”

This included taking holidays in Russia and China.

Dorothy’s sewing skills were renowned. She made costumes for Paul Raymond, before his revue bar days, and dresses for competitive teams of formation dancers.

She made all her daughters’ clothes, their wedding dresses as well as costumes for friends attending the legendary new year’s eve parties at The Knowle.

Joy Seward said: “She was a lovely, talented lady and a great artist. She never said a bad word about anybody and was so genuine. We will miss her a great deal.”

Dorothy’s funeral took place at Sidmouth Parish Church yesterday. She leaves two surviving daughters, Brenda and Lee, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


Dorothy Hartnell was indeed a Chamber stalwart as stated in the Sidmouth Herald, being a member for many years. She was chairman from 1987 to 1989 showing an elegant, but firm approach, guiding the Chamber through interesting times with her pleasant demeanour. Even after that period, Dorothy worked closely with Pat Parrish to ensure that there were as many Christmas trees as possible in the town each Christmas. Both were also responsible for raising thousands of pounds over the years towards the Christmas lights by virtue of their renowned annual dinner dance raffles! Last year, long after her retirement, she was one of the judges for the best dressed window competition, showing her continued interest in the town. She will be sadly missed.

Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce

22 July 2011