Evison, Helen June Patricia (Dame), 1924-2010
Dame Patricia was born at Dunedin, the daughter of a Methodist Minister. She had to give up the idea of a musical career (cello) after developing repetitive strain injury in the arm. She attended Victoria University of Wellington and gained a batchelor of arts degree and then trained as a teacher at Auckland Teachers' College. It was at secondary school that Dame Patricia first became aware of her acting ability. At training college and during her first years of teaching she began to develop her interest in the theatre. In 1946 Dame Patricia travelled to London where she took a course in theatre production at the Old Vic Theatre Centre. During this course of study she was recommended to the New Zealand Government, by Dame Sybil Thorndike as being worthy of government support for her drama studies. As a result Dame Patricia was given a government bursary - one of the first government bursaries for the arts. After marriage, and on return to New Zealand, Dame Patricia took up her theatre career, first directing, producing and acting in amateur productions and later working regularly for professional theatre. She has combined her career with the upbringing of three children. Over the years, Dame Patricia has become very well known to the New Zealand public through an acting career which has encompassed a diversity of roles in the theatre, on television, in films and for radio. Dame Patricia was awarded the DBE in 1993.