Pashley, Anne


Anne Pashley was a British sprinter and following her athletic career, she became an operatic soprano.


She was born in Skegness, Lincolnshire, the younger of two daughters of Roy Pashley, an English teacher, and his wife Milly Pashley, who ran a holiday camp.  She was very young when the family moved to Stroud, Gloucester, for her father’s work. However, her asthma meant that when she was 14 years of age the family were advised to relocate to the coast and they ended up in Great Yarmouth. It was while she was studying at Great Yarmouth High School for Girls that her running potential was first spotted. In January 1954, her parents purchased Hill’s Marine View Hotel (now Marine Lodge) with 47 bedrooms for £10,000. It had been out of commission for 14 years, after it was damaged in the war.

After joining Great Yarmouth Athletics Club, Pashley soon began competing in county championships and representing her country. In 1953, at the Amateur Athletic Association championships in White City, Pashley equalled the British women's 100 yards record of 10.8 seconds. She took bronze in the 100 metres at the 1954 European Athletics Championships in Bern, Switzerland. Also, in 1954, she took silver in the 4 x 110 yards relay at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver.

In 1956, she was one of nine female athletes chosen to represent Great Britain at the Olympics in Melbourne in the women’s 100 metres and the 4x100 metres relay. While she failed to qualify for the 100 metres final, Pashley, along with Jean Scrivens, June Foulds and Heather Armitage took silver behind the Australians in the relay.

Pashley retired from athletic competition soon after the Melbourne Olympics and went on to become a star of the Royal Opera House. In 1959, having trained at the Guildhall School of Music, London, Pashley made her debut in the Handel Opera Society’s production of Semele at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

She spent the next 30 years performing as a soprano at some of the world’s most renowned opera houses including Glyndebourne, the Royal Opera at Covent Garden and across Europe, as well as securing the leading roles in eight BBC TV operas and numerous radio broadcasts. She also sang for Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera, Kent Opera and the New Opera Company. She died in 2016 after suffering with bone cancer.