As this is our 30th year, it seems like a suitable time to look back and see where we have come from and the inspirational people that have got Side By Side Theatre Group where it is today. It is safe to say that the many people that Side By Side Theatre has supported over the years owe an awful lot to one very special lady - Sue Teers.
Born in 1941 in Leamington as Susan Robertson, Sue Teers was a member of the Earlsdon Village Players in the early 1950s, and joined the Talisman as a young teenager.
The talented youngster dismayed her teachers when she chose to go to drama school instead of university, but spent 'a wonderful three years' at Birmingham School of Speech and Drama before teaching drama in schools around Warwickshire.
Sue married first in the early 1960s, and later gave up teaching to have two daughters, Emma and Rebecca. She separated from her first husband in the 1970s and began livingwith her future husband Bob Teers in 1980. The couple married in 2001. Bob said: "She was vibrant, full of energy, witty and fun to be with. She just glowed."
The background for Side by Side began in the 1980s, when she started a business as a voice coach, teaching public speaking and later presentation skills at Warwickshire College.
In 1988 she was asked to give drama classes for adults with learning difficulties at Weston Hospital. When she arrived she was told the hospital already 'did' drama - the patients would assemble in the hall and be entertained. But Sue decided the patients, many of whom had severe disabilities, should be given a chance to perform. She later told her friends that she had the idea and even the name for Side by Side by the time she returned to her car.
Her carefully-scripted musical and comedy pieces were designed to show the talents, not the limitations of the performers.
In 1999 the group’s achievements were formally recognized when Sue was honoured with an MBE, an award she wanted to share with the whole company.
Sue also continued to work at the Talisman, where she was director of productions for five years. She tried to put on little-known but "well-made" plays that audiences would not be able to see in professional theatres.
She loved working with actors and directed several plays, including Terence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea and Noel Coward's Design for Living and Relative Values.
Her last production was The Linden Tree, by her favourite writer JB Priestley. Sue had been cleared of breast cancer in the early 1990s, but in 2005 secondary tumours in her spine began to affect her walking.
She had two operations in autumn 2005, and finished radiotherapy and chemotherapy two weeks before rehearsals were due to begin, but the illness returned soon after the production ended.
Sue died on June 21 2006 aged 65.