At first it seemed to me as if her light had gone out… but then I realised that the light that Claire bought to the world, through her love and commitment to her family, friends and her work, burns so brightly it will never diminish. Her light has touched many people’s lives and hearts, including mine, and it will live on through those that have been lucky enough to have known her, people she has touched with the sort of kindness that will never run out.
It is extraordinarily difficult to write about a colleague and friend who is so dearly loved. It is hard to even conceive that Claire T is no longer with us. It was Bob Quinton–a longstanding member of inc.Theatre who gave her that affectionate name. I can hear him calling her now “Claire T” when he wanted her attention, with the emphasis on the ‘T’. Attention that she was able to give to anyone and everyone at the drop of a hat.
I remember meeting her the first time I worked for Spare Tyre in Redbridge and thinking how great and inspiring she was, the way she was with people. A lovely soul.
Friends and colleagues I have spoken with have overwhelmingly said “she was a beautiful soul”, “a good listener” with an “infectious laugh and sense of humour”.
It was an absolute honour to know Claire, to work with her, and to be her friend. She was unlimited in her generosity, empathy and caring. It was always a pleasure when she arrived in a room as she had such an upbeat presence and worked so hard to support all of her colleagues, clients, friends
I feel lucky to have worked with Claire during our wonderful Spare Tyre days. I remember first meeting her–she had a remarkable gift of making you feel so welcome and that you’d known her for years. She was instantly so warm, kind, open and fun. She had an infectious enthusiasm and generosity that touched so many–friends, artists, participants and colleagues alike. I was in awe of her energy, her tireless commitment to helping and empowering others. Always on hand with a listening ear, always going the extra mile to brighten someone’s day, always so full of life. And all with such compassion and humour. She was a complete joy to work with and I will miss her.
I first saw Claire when I was at the Downs Hall Centre in Newbury Park, she had come with another long standing member of inc.Theatre Ellie Mason as her personal care support. I was Spare Tyre’s new Associate Director and remember walking away that day thinking we are keeping an eye on Claire as she understands theatre and drama, is very good with people with learning disabilities and very open to the way we work to empower and enable people. So that’s in 2001 or 2002.
She was young and fresh out of university. She had gone to Roehampton University to study PE and would return there over a decade later to work on outreach projects like Roehampton Radio and the ST Band. And before that she was our theatre course administrator on the inc.Theatre course and was a great advocate for our work in the borough of Redbridge. You could offer Claire any project and she would say yes as inevitably we could use so many of her amazing skills: admin, acting, care support, leading training workshops, outreach, driving and she always – always–brought her laughter and positive energy with her and her keen eye for health and safety! This bright star that lit every space she was in.
My abiding memory of her was when we were working with a SEN school in Charlton, getting ready to perform – there was a young boy who was looking confused, he didn’t have verbal skills – Claire very gently stood in front of him placed his hand on her throat, her hand on his vocal cords and they began to trust and communicate via the vibrations. They then began to communicate via sound and signs – her patience and ability to communicate was extraordinary and beautiful to watch.
I learnt heaps from Claire about how to enable and empower people. I loved her positivity and energy. Her ability to really see people and understand them. Her laugh. She was an incredible calming influence before and during many of our shows. She was also huge fun to party with and to chat with over lunch on our red Spare Tyre sofas. Claire was part of my Spare Tyre family.
She toured with the ST Band and would fill her car to the rafters with the instruments made from recycled materials so that they could be a part of the 2012 Olympics, The Lord Mayor’s show and summer festivals for years.
Despite knowing Claire for years, she could still surprise you! I went with Julia Schauerman to see her performing in Carousel at the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford, and what an eye opener that was! That was one flirty, sensuous performance – even I blushed!
I am in a theatre in Ilford in an early year of this century, sitting next to Arti. We have come to see Claire perform in the musical Carousel. It is only when the play begins that I realise that Claire is playing the central female character Julie Jordan. She is wonderful, when she sings 'If I Loved You' it is beautiful and deeply moving. Claire–never taking herself too seriously, always ready with a warm smile and cheeky giggle. Caring, generous and absolutely lovely. Working with her was a joy.
I had known that Claire was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, and I thought she had overcome the disease that had plagued her for the last three years. My thoughts are with her wonderful family who have lost a wonderful and beautiful daughter, sister, partner and mother. And I hope this story will bring you some comfort and strength of her legacy and love that will live in our hearts.
Claire was truly one of the nicest, kindest, sparkliest people I’ve had the pleasure to meet and work with. She was a great colleague to work alongside, and in the times I had talking with her about things beyond work, she was also a great listener. I remember her deep empathy and kindness when I spoke to her about a failed IVF. And some time later when I saw her when her eldest was around 2yrs old, I was trying to adopt a child and the system being a bit rubbish and me being disabled, I needed photo evidence of being able to carry and walk with a child. She gave me her son to carry and took a photo of me walking along. I presented that photo as part of the evidence for me to adopt a child and though it took some more time, it worked, I adopted a lovely little girl who is now a beautiful six year old, and Claire was part of that journey and I’ll always remember that moment warmly and with huge gratitude.
Claire was the epitome of sunshine, when she walked into a room it felt more beautiful and positive. It is unfathomable that that sun has gone down. She will be missed by everyone who knew her.
As a part of the heritage project ST40 Claire spoke of her love of Spare Tyre. You can listen to her interview here: https://www.sparetyre.org/about-us/st40/interviews/claire-taylor
Also, as a part of her legacy is that she has brought the ST family of 2000 – 2019 together with her passing, and for that despite the very sad circumstances we celebrate Claire T and our time together with much laughter and fondness. May you rest in eternal peace Claire T.
Everyone at Spare Tyre was very sad to hear of the passing of Claire Taylor, a long-standing and valued member of Spare Tyre’s creative teams. We’re grateful to former Artistic Director, Arti Prashar, who worked closely with Claire for a number of years, for writing this tribute to her.