From The Parish Registers At St. Martin's Desford

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Church Of England Funerals

Funerals 2020

Susan Ward (nee Ballard) 16.7.1942 – 08.06.2020

We all start with our mums and Mum started with hers in Barnet on the 16th July in 1942 which the records suggest was a rather cool and unsettled month. If the weather was unsettled the world was more so. It was the mid point of the war. Mum was a second child, her brother David had been born in 1938. Her father Kenneth was a conscientious objector and artist who refused to fight and spent the war as an agricultural labourer, for part of the time in Ashby de la Zouch. Her mother, Mabs, was a keen tennis player who used to take me to one side years later and explain in all seriousness that I should remember silence was golden. By the time Mum was born they were living in Asmuns Hill on the Hampstead Garden Suburb. Later they lived in Welwyn Garden City and then. by the time mum was at school. they were in East Grinstead. Later they moved to Sevenoaks.

During the latter part of the war Mum was admitted to hospital in London with what she in our family folklore referred to as double pneumonia. but was hastily moved elsewhere when the hospital was bombed. The earliest photographs I have seen of her show a little girl eager to demonstrate a feisty puckishness for her photographer father. Mum was acrobatic and lithe. I remember once when we were all returning to the house after a family photo in the garden, she suddenly leapt onto a saddle stone and adopted, squatting, with bent knees and hands palm to palm, against her cheek, the posture of a demure and sleeping elf.

On Mary’s first visit to Ivy House a photo was taken in which mum has quite unexpectedly bounced a full metre onto a vast stone trough which stands to this day in front of the back door. She had great poise. Even in chaos she always found neatness. Her sense of where she was in space, always seemed more developed in her than in anyone else. She was educated by nuns at St Mary’s Convent in South Godstone, Surrey. She didn’t like examinations, didn’t do very well in them and spent a term at a finishing school in Sevenoaks, which she hated. She left to study nursing at the Central Middlesex Hospital, failing her final exams. She was good at things, she just didn’t like to conform to anyone else’s standard. She met Dad on holiday at Burnham Overy Staithe in Norfolk in August 1962 (18th walk to island, having capsized a boat before breakfast).

Granny Mabs thought the young articled clerk a fine match and it didn’t go unnoticed. Mum’s Dad drove a Rolls Royce. There were some long walks across the marshes. After that they met in London and partied at May Balls in Cambridge and Oxford. Perhaps conscious of her little learning, Mum dutifully read Dr Zhivago on Dad’s recommendation only to discover when they next met that the Cambridge scholar had not actually read it. Dad finished his final law exams in 1964 and proposed on the phone from Charing Cross station on the way down to Sevenoaks. While he’d been cramming in Guildford for the Law Society finals, mum used to go over and take his socks home to wash. They were married on 1 st May 1965 at St Mary’s Church, Kippington.

Dad’s diary has only one entry for that day, in mum’s hand, ‘getting married’. One of Mum’s nursing friends recently wrote to Dad remembering how they had all been terrified of nursing and how excited Mum had been about being in love with Dad. The honeymoon was an epic journey to Greece, involving a train from Calais to Milan and a 36 hour boat journey across the Adriatic from Brindisi to Piraeus. They visited Delphi and hired a car to tour the Peloponnese. They travelled by boat to Samos near the Turkish coast and visited Bodrum, flying back to Athens in a Dakota.

It must have been an amazing adventure. Deciding that they wanted to live in a Cathedral City, they moved to Norwich; 27 Park Lane, after marrying. Dad had trained in law in Leicester and they moved to Desford when his work brought them back to Leicestershire in 1969. Mum always told us she had wanted four boys. Whatever the truth of that retrospectively, she promptly had them. Me in 1966, Richard in 1969, Tim in 1970 and Andrew in 1972. One of my first memories is the pickling one autumn of thousands of walnuts, in which Mum’s role was central. Everyone’s fingers were darkened for weeks by the interaction of walnut skin and vinegar. There is a picture of her at our wedding, 20 years later, her vigour still evident, sleeves up, strong-arming a salmon into its kettle. She always walked really fast (often you literally had to chase her down the street) and she liked, not to get things said, but to get things done.

Years ago I foolishly studied for a higher degree whose subject was millenarian culture in the 17th century. It was all about Quakers going naked for a sign and women prophesying the fall of the Cromwellian establishment by pleading a licence granted by the indwelling holy spirit. I’ve come to realise that I was probably studying Mum. She was a truly a nonconformist, a dissenter. Inwardly, she never liked to toe anyone else’s line. She had a mistrust of authority and coming from a long line of bolshies, she felt she had an obligation to continue the practice. She was intensely loyal to her original beliefs. Throughout her life Mum was a committed pacifist. She was a Liberal but moved towards the Greens as the liberals moved rightwards. There was always an undercurrent of CND at home and in the early eighties a palpable feeling of identification with the women of Greenham Common. There were village things too. Mothers Union and the WI, (and volunteer work at LOROS Hospice) in which she played active and unsung roles.

In total secrecy Mum learnt to drive, more or less successfully, in her 40s, when it is almost impossible to learn anything new. She became a vegetarian in middle age. Even later, she started to ride again after a gap of at least 50 years, and bought a horse, Holly, to whom she was devoted. She put up with a lot of family holidays in mountainous parts of the country where her fear of heights saved her long days out in the hills. She amassed a vast collection of clothes all of which confirmed her brilliant eye for colour and style. Mary once asked her if she liked the colour of a newly purchased garment and Mum replied by suggesting it was in what she always thought of as a ‘nothing’ colour. She liked the novels of Jane Austen, Radio 3, the 8 o’clock service, sunbathing, midnight mass, horses, clarnico mints, hedgehogs, Gregory Peck, dolphins, Wimbledon, dogs, and bellringing.

She was not a forceful person, but despite her failing health latterly, she never really lost her innate sense of the ludicrousness of life and her existential sense of humour. We are thrown into life and abandoned there and the way this inconveniences you made her laugh. She felt she’d been robbed of her father’s old age when he died at the age of 74, and her brother David’s more recent death she felt was too early. She is, I am sure, impishly hacked off at having made it only as far as 77. Fortunately for her, 2020 is the first year Wimbledon has been cancelled since the war. She would have been relieved not to have missed it.

Nick-Ward Lowery

Funeral of MARGARET JEAN STOKES (6th April 1947 – 23rd July 2020)

took place on 6th August 2020 at St Martin’s Church, Desford Margaret – what can I say, my wife of 50 years, my partner, the love of my life, my soulmate, my mentor, my friend, mum, mum in law, gran – your friend – well here goes!! Margaret was born on the 6th April 1947 in the Bond Street maternity hospital in the centre of Leicester – coincidentally that was Easter Sunday.

She lived with her mum and dad in a small terraced house in Ash Street Leicester off the Humberstone Road, next door to her Auntie Doreen and Uncle Brian. Margaret had a normal, happy childhood and when she left school she went to work in the office at T.J Brookes who made items for the aircraft industry. Margaret’s mum and dad considered working in an office as a huge step up and were very proud of her. Later she moved to work in the centre of Leicester at the Scottish Equitable Insurance Company with her colleague Margaret. To save confusion she was known at work as Jean as the other Margaret was senior. Following changes at that company, Margaret moved to MJH construction at South Wigston and onto Cripps BMW garage at Kibworth, a long drive in the winter.

Onward and upward she applied for a secretary job at the Kirby Muxloe Golf Club, not realising what a golf club secretary was. Anyway she got a job there as an administrator which was a lot closer than Kibworth. After a successful few years at Kirby the then captain, Keith Elliott, headhunted her to work for Dalkard and Elliott carpets, first in Granby Street then in South Wigston. Margaret spent many very happy years working there with Kevin Elliott and the other brothers as an accounts clerk until her retirement at 60 in 2007. Margaret has always been a tireless and conscientious worker and liked things to be just right, which was an asset in accounts of course, both at work and St. Martin’s.

As for Margaret’s personal life, she married Graham at 20 and they moved into a house in Eastleigh Road off the Narborough Road in Leicester.Tragically in 1969 Graham and Margaret were involved in a motorcycle accident and Graham sadly passed away, so so sad at so young an age. Margaret’s mum and dad then moved in with her at Eastleigh Road. At this point I’d like to thank Jan, Graham’s sister and all that family for welcoming me into it with open arms.

In December of that year Margaret was to go to a dance on the Saturday before Christmas, her mum and dad were friendly with Sheila and Fred Stokes who lived in a house that backed onto hers. Sheila mentioned that their son Tony was in the Fleet Air Arm and was coming home on leave for Christmas and it was suggested that he might want to accompany Margaret to the dance. Unfortunately I had a better offer of the rugby match between England and South Africa and a weekend in London!! Eventually I came home and on Christmas Eve the 2 families were drinking together at the local Conservative Club, a normal occurrence. Having had a few beers I eventually plucked up courage to speak to Margaret and we got on ok. As the night wore on Margaret announced that she was going to the midnight service at the Church of the Martyrs. I offered to walk her there.

On the way we popped into Eastleigh Road and never got to the church. In fact we spent the whole night chatting and listening to Radio Luxemburg until dawn (yes really). Christmas day passed and in the Hunstman pub I announced that I was going to the Tigers/Barbarians match on Boxing Day. In true Margaret style she asked if she could come a long, not knowing anything about Rugby. Anyway the following week passed and the 2 of us got on very well and a kiss ensued on New Years Eve at the stroke of midnight because everyone else was doing it. Shortly after that I returned to the Navy and Margaret wasn’t sure if I would return.

Return I did a couple of times in January and lo and behold on a Sunday lunchtime in February after several pints I asked “Why don’t we get married” (strong stuff Everards) - in true Margaret style her reply was “When” which threw me a bit. Anyway a week later an engagement happened and a ring was purchased. The next few months were spent with Margaret arranging the wedding on the 8th August 1970 at the Church of the Martyrs with myself saying yes to all suggestions over the phone from Wiltshire. The wedding was very successful, as it would be with Margaret’s organisation, and then we moved into a tiny married quarter at A/AEE Boscombe Down, not far from Stonehenge. A great social life ensued with Margaret being a little shocked at the amount of alcohol consumed on a regular basis.

On 15th September 1971 Paul arrived at 11.45pm with just midwife and I present – I was on a course at Lee on Solent and the baby wasn’t expected till morning. I asked my duty officer if I could arrive a bit late in the morning – the answer was no and if you are not on time a charge will follow. Margaret obviously wasn’t having that and duly delivered Paul an hour later. I was due to go on board HMS Ark Royal for 2 years shortly after and that meant a married quarter in Plymouth.

We decided to buy a house in Suffolk Way, Desford, and I bought myself out of the Navy for the princely sum of £125. Margaret always wanted to live in a bungalow so one August we booked a cruise, moved to Cambridge Drive and I volunteered for redundancy from BT – quite a month really. Happy times followed with Paul marrying the lovely Julie and, against family tradition of being only children, Jack and Ben arrived. Margaret often remembered with fondness our family holiday in Florida with one half going on the big rides and Margaret and I on the more gentle ones; the highlight being swimming with dolphins. We both liked our holidays as you know, following my mum’s mantra of “I don’t want to look back and wish I had done things” and we didn’t. Cruises to Alaska, the St Laurence, Egypt and the Med, and river cruises to the Rhine and the Danube, interspersed with an annual trip to Lanzarote and of course 2 trips to Hawaii with our good friends Janet and Alan– yes we liked our holidays.

We both enjoyed our 15 years in Scouting with Margaret being an assistant Cub leader, assistant Beaver leader and an Assistant District Commissioner for Beavers. She came with us to Switzerland and Iceland and many camps in this country and could have contributed to a book about our escapades with the 2 Scout buses. But throughout the 50+ years I’ve had the privilege of knowing Margaret, her faith in God and Jesus Christ has been strong – a fact that has made the past months more bearable.

And this led to her commitment to St. Martin’s with fun raising, choir, Beaufort Entertainers and of course as Treasurer. Few people know how many hours a week Margaret spent on the church accounts – sometimes I moaned at her about it, but her reply was always that she enjoyed doing the accounts – strange!! Following her devastating diagnosis in March of liver cancer that had spread to her lungs with no prospect of palliative chemo due to the virus, Margaret soldiered on, until she developed jaundice and was admitted to the Leicester General for 4 weeks – not a happy time with no visitors.

On return home she slipped away from us over the weeks and passed peacefully away at 8.15 on a Thursday morning. To finish I’d like to say thank you to all who have supported us with love and prayers in the past months, and a special thanks to Dr Maini, our wonderful GP, the fantastic Priti and her Palliative Care team, the Marie Curie nurses and Paula our LOROS nurse.

And of course a really special thankyou to Paul, Julie, Jack and Ben, without whom I would not and will not survive. God keep you safe my love, I will miss you terribly. Hopefully we will have a good knees up later in the year

God Bless you all Tony

Celia Mary Smallwood, 14th February 1934 – 6th June 2020.

Mary was born on the 14th February 1934 at a home in Stamford Street, Ratby to Wilfred and Elizabeth Hubert. Mary gad one sibling, John Hubert who is 10 years younger.
In Mary’s younger years she worked at Wolsey Knitwear factory in Ratby. Mary worked there as an over-locker until she moved to do a similar job at Pick’s Hosiery situated in Dover Street, Leicester.
At the age of 29 Mary moved to Tumblin Fields Farm where she started to help with the farming whilst also continuing to work in the factory. After a short time, farming became Mary’s sole occupation, to which she dedicated her life. Those that spoke to Mary would always get a tale or two of many a funny story during her life in farming.
At the age of 19 Mary married her late husband John Smallwood. John and Mary were beloved parents to their daughter Carol.
Sadly John passed away on 9th February 1986 aged 54. Mary continued to dedicate all of her time to managing the farm. In 1987 Mary met Roy Newball They have had many happy years together.
Everyone here today will have fond memories of times shared with Mary. She was always a loving, helpful person who was loved by her family and friends.
One of my favourite memories with Mary was her telling me about the time she booked a holiday with Harry McPherson coaches. On the day before she was due to depart, she had a phone call
from Harry asking where she was? To which Mary replied sating she thought the trip was tomorrow. In no time at Mary, Roy and Carol frantically ran around getting ready to be picked up. Of course the story was much more amusing when Mary told the story in her own special way.
Rest in Peace Mary, your dearest friend Zena Rood

Weddings 2019

Wedding, 7th September 2019
Leigh Thomas Gene LAFFAR to Kirsty Louise ADCOCK

Funerals 2019

We send our condolences to the families of those who have died during the past few weeks.  It is hard to lose a loved one at any time, but especially difficult when only a few people are allowed to attend the funeral.  I am sure that some families will wish to hold a memorial service when circumstances allow.


Nestor Jasinksyj died on 7th April, age 95, and was buried in Hunts Lane Cemetery on 27th April. Nestor was an avid gardener and reputedly had the smartest plot on Desford Allotments. In his latter years he moved to Staffordshire to be cared for by his daughter

Jean Forman died on 30th March, age 79, and was buried in Hunts Lane Cemetery on 22nd April

Maggie Burton died on 2nd April.and her funeral was on 21st April at Loughborough Crematorium.  As well as being a valued member of St Martin’s congregation, Maggie and Pete were regular attendees at Forget me Not and will be sadly missed.  We understand that Peter is now in a care home.

Peter George Thompson died on 2nd April, age 64, and was buried in Hunts Lane Cemetery on 17th April

John Osband died on 17th March and his funeral was on 7th April at Countesthorpe Crematorium.  John and Pauline lived in Kirby Muxloe, until retiring to LFE a few years ago.  Many Desford residents will have happy memories of visiting Parsons Gallery to buy an unusual gift and/or to enjoy the delicious coffee & cakes.   Some of us also attended Glenfield Folk dancing on Monday evenings.  They had been running these classes for 50 years when covid 19 brought them to an abrupt end in early March.  Pauline also founded the Jerusalem Jammers, a ladies Morris side, who met and practised in the Osbands living room.  They soon outgrew this and moved to St Bart’s Church Hall, where we still practice on the 4th Saturday of the month.  Jammers celebrated our 38th birthday on Wednesday 29th April (virtually of course!).  I am sure that many people will wish to pay their respects to John in due course.

SHEILA ROSE DAVIES, 5th August 1933 – 24th February 2020

NORMAN ELLIS WILLIAMS, 12th January 1930-31st January 2020, held at the
Parish Church of St. Martin, Desford on 19th February 2020.

At the Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Norman Williams,
Carl Gaskell gave this Eulogy (almost all having been written by Norman’s son, David):
As Norman would say,whatever the time of year or season: “Happy New Year!”
Maggie and I having known Norman as a friend for almost 4 decades, so it is a privilege for
me to relate this short account of his long life of love, care, and service.
He was born on 12th January 1930, in Aylesford, Kent, to Ellis and Ethel Golding Williams;
and they lived in Snodland, Kent, until Norman was 15; when, on 31st August 1945, he joined the Royal Navy
as an Electrical Artificer Apprentice, in the Jervis Division of the Fleet Air Arm. 
He was by far the youngest in his apprenticeship intake and was the last to pass from the Jervis Division.
After 4 years, he finished his apprenticeship on 1st July 1949. 

At first, he was stationed at shore-based establishments: HMS Daedalus on the south coast;
HMS Sanderling in Scotland; HMS Condor; HMS Ariel; and HMS Falcon in Malta. After this,
he served on the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal; and the sea-borne cruiser HMS London. 
He was a Petty Officer and he gained his Long Service medal and a total of no less than 4 Good Conduct medals.
On 23st August 1958, he married Mary Arnott Taylor and their first house, 2 years later,
was at 59, Privet Close, Gosport, Hampshire.  On 8th December 1969, he retired from the
Navy - having completed 24 years’ service in the Fleet Air Arm.

Norman and Mary couldn’t have children; so they adopted 5, all from different
families and backgrounds: Craig, David, Debbie, Neil and Amanda. Norman has 11 grandchildren
and 13 great-grandchildren.
On 6th February 1970, the family moved to 48, Manor Road, Desford: where Norman lived until he was 89. 
Until then he was mainly independent - only stopping driving a couple of years earlier. 
In the same month that they moved to Desford, Norman became a Sales Representative for
Thorn Electrical Components.
Sadly, in March 1976, Norman’s first wife, Mary, died.  Two years later, in 1978,
he married his second wife, Joan Winifred Leigh, who had 3 sons: Dennis, Cliff and Steven. 
Joan died in November 1983.
Norman (David says) I think it would be fair to say, could be described as determined, devoted,
principled, strong-willed, loving and a proud man: albeit this could cause tensions! 
He definitely made a mark on people’s lives - particularly his children’s. 
Norman was an ardent football fan and supported Manchester United.
He was a dedicated family man and this extended not only to his grandchildren and
great-grandchildren, but to his children’s girlfriends and boyfriends, his sons- and
daughters-in law, as well as the partners, husbands and wives, of his grandchildren: 
and they in turn thought the world of Norman. 

Two days before he died, Heather said to him: ‘You’ve been a lovely father-in-law’ and despite
the fact that, by this time, he wasn’t very responsive, he replied ‘I know I am, and I love you all.’
When his first wife died, Norman was left with 5 children to bring up on his own. 
True to his character, he ensured he was there for them every morning and evening,
whilst holding down a challenging job; only occasionally staying away overnight, when he arranged
for a friend to look after the children.

Norman would do anything he could to help his children.  Neil recalls that if it wasn’t for his
Dad ferrying him around for Air Cadets, he wouldn’t have been able to join the RAF as
they weren’t accepting recruits at that time unless they had served long term in the Air Cadets.
Craig is adamant that if it hadn’t been for Dad and Mum adopting him, he is certain he would have
been in and out of prison; but Dad kept him on the straight and narrow.  Norman has been consistent,
loving, understanding, caring, and truthful, throughout Craig’s life.

When Norman and Mary were arranging to adopt David - who was to be the last addition
to the family - Debbie was at the window of the children’s home, saying, ‘Can you take me too?’ 
They went home and discussed it and agreed to take Debbie too. They had a book which
sums them up: entitled ‘There’s always room for one more.’
Debbie recalls that Norman supported her through the good times and the hard times. 
Debbie’s family lived in various places, because of her husband, Paul’s, deployment, 
but Norman, would say, ‘It doesn’t matter if we don’t see each other; we can always
talk on the phone.’  Debbie also recalls: he used to say how handsome he was - even with his ‘slipped chest’!
Mandy recalls that when she was expecting her daughter, Kate, Norman rang her at least
20 times on his birthday, to see if she was in labour - because he wanted Kate to be born on his birthday. 
At that stage, Mandy was 2 days overdue and Norman was due to go over to their
house to look after Mandy’s son, John.  When at last she did go into labour,
there had been a snowfall and he said ‘Oh no! I’ll have to dig the car out
from the snow first: but I’ll be there.’  And sure enough, through the blizzard he went - and got there in time. 
He was always there, especially when Mandy’s son, John died.  He was always
just a phone call away - no matter what time of day or night.
Sometimes, to the embarrassment of his children, Norman was a bit of a charmer to the ladies,
taking the opportunity at formal dances to dance with the officers’ wives, while their husbands
had important matters to discuss - or rather, to drink!  He said he was ‘only too happy to take
up the duty’!  Even in his later years, he would joke with single ladies that he was - ‘still available!’
48 Manor Road was the main family home for over 49 years and Norman, being determined and strong-willed,
refused to sell it and move to a smaller and more manageable house, as he wanted to have the
space for any of his family to come and stay, or live; and he did indeed accommodate different
members of the family over the years.  When finally, at the age of 89, he knew he wasn’t safe
to be at home any longer, he moved into Hinckley Park Care Home in Hinckley.
At home, he was not renowned for his culinary prowess:  his children always knew what was for
dinner on any particular day of the week - especially boiled mince on a Saturday.  He would
simmer the mince for 4 hours: and he never cottoned on to the fact that his children were
putting plenty of ketchup or brown sauce on their dinner to give it a bit of flavour!
Norman had a strong faith and was a member of St Martin’s congregation since he moved to
Desford in 1970. 

Although the family went to church in Snibston, because Mary preferred a high church,
Norman nevertheless attended the 8 o’clock Communion here.  Eventually, he attended 
all services at St Martin’s and joined the choir after he had encouraged some of
his children to join (and David is still a prominent member.)  Norman loved to sing - and was a
real crooner: David says his Dad would prefer to sing the melody rather than the tenor
line he was supposed to sing. Norman thought David hadn’t noticed - but he had!  Norman
would also say that he didn’t have, or couldn’t find, a piece of music.  But now the
suspicion can be confirmed!  When David cleared the house, he filled a box full of music,
including some multiple copies of the same piece!  On a number of occasions he sang a solo
and a particular favourite was a duet with Stella, from one of his favourite musicals, Les Miserables.
Norman also joined the Beaufort Entertainers, in the tenor line.

There were so many to whom he was so welcoming when they came here; who became and remained his friends. 
The family would particularly like to thank Shirley Lloyd for her friendship with Norman
for over 60 years (Shirley said, during all that time, they never had a cross word) and
Jenny and Alan Prime for their friendship: not only did Jenny clean the house for Norman,
but she would always sit and have tea and a caramel bar and have time for a chat with him. 
Alan would not only go to the shop or the chemist for him if none of the children were around,
but would also walk up the road to watch football on the TV with him; also
Peter and Sheila Folks and Margaret and Tony Stokes, with whom, over the years,
he would go on outings or mini-breaks.
To sum up: Norman was dedicated and devoted to his country, the Navy, his family,
his faith, St Martin’s and all his many friends. 

The funeral of Margaret Newton took place at St Martin’s Church on 30th January. 
Howard’s Euology for Margaret:

Margaret was a remarkable person-she needed to be to hold down a demanding job and look after
me and our sons! Her life revolved around her family, children generally and books.
I might also add cats! She was very close to her sister Mollie and her family, regularly
sending Christmas gifts to her nephews Richard and James. She was kind, generous
(she supported St Martins and several charities) and always saw the good in people.
She was also very wise and a reliable source of advice. She was courageous, enduring
years of treatment of different kinds-amidst which she retained her sense of humour and a lovely smile.
She was born in what was then known as the West Riding of Yorkshire and educated at the
local primary school and Morley Grammar. She especially enjoyed English and Religious Education.
The grammar school timetable did not allow her to take her preferred subjects at
A level so she chose to leave and got a job in a library, taking part-time courses to
complete her professional librarianship qualifications.

She then worked in a number of libraries in Yorkshire before spending a year in Canada
on an exchange scheme. She enjoyed her time workiing in Toronto and travelling around
other parts of North America. On her return to the UK she got a job as Head of
Childrens 1 Library Services at Loughborough, which is where I met her-and it was
not as a borrower peeping through the library shelves!-! was working there in a temporary post.
We immediately gelled and got married four years later, spending the next several
years working and living in different parts of the country.

Her love of children then prompted Margaret to enrol as a mature student at Bretton Hall
to take a teacher-training degree. By this time she had already had Michael, our older son,
but taking her degree did not deter her from having our second son Jonathan
(Jon as he prefers now)-1 well remember her writing essays deep into the night,
she certainly earned her degree! This was before the internet, I might add.
We later moved to Leicestershire where her first teaching post was to
cover Paula Thomas' maternity leave at Desford primary. She went on to teach at other schools,
finishing up at St Marys Fields, where she made a number of very good friends.
She loved her job so much that she worked on past retirement age.
Such spare time as she had-before ill-health set in- was spent walking, reading
(especially crime fiction and poetry), taking part in quizes and helping at Coffee and Chat.
She loved her country and she also ejoyed foreign travel. She specially enjoyed
Italy and joined me in learning Italian.
She loved her family and was immensely proud when our sons gained their degrees and entered good jobs.
Her only regret was that they lived some distance from here and weren't able to visit us as often as
she would have liked.
She will be very much missed.
Howard Newton

John Chesterton

Funeral was held on Friday 3rd January 

Lorna Mary Isabel Newton

25th Nov 1931 – 30th Dec 2019, Funeral was held on Thursday 16th January 

Joseph Fawcett, 1983-2019
funeral was held on Monday 19th August,
Eulogy for Joseph Fawcett

Joe, Wobe, Dad, Son, Mate, Uncle, Colleague, Godfather.  Brother.  How do I start?  He isn’t an easy man to know, or describe, or to understand.  I’m not sure if he understood himself really.  He was a different person depending how you knew him and when you met him.  He was a man of stark contrasts, strong and yet vulnerable, blunt but surprisingly sensitive, worldly and knowledgeable in some ways and almost childlike in others.
It’s so hard to find the words to describe the spirit of a man who lived a hard life, a fast life, an all too short life.  I could probably read out a long list of all his good points, but it wouldn’t really say much about who he is was.  I could write another list, just as long, of his mistakes, but that wouldn’t say much either.  None of us is as simple as a sum of our good and bad points, but my brother was more complex than most.
He liked to laugh, and he liked to make people laugh.  He could spontaneously come up with long routines, social worker, tour guide, health and safety inspector.  It’s worth looking at his facebook page to see his guided tour of some caves in Thailand, not even a year ago.  He could say ridiculous things with a straight face until he eventually cracked up, an embarrassed throaty chuckle, avoiding eye contact but sneaking a look to check you were laughing too.
He was the master of understatement,  he could give deadly answers to simple questions.  He hated flying.  I was there once when someone asked him “which bit of flying is it that you don’t like, is it feeling trapped or not being in control?.  The answer says a lot about him.  “It’s the plummeting to earth in a fiery ball”.
He liked to help other people.  He’s been supportive to lots of friends when they’ve had problems, but at the same time I’m not really sure how much he said about his own issues.  I’m not sure if any of us recognized how much turmoil he felt.
He wanted to change, he was desperate to move away from a life-time of drinking, to really start living, and yet to somehow stay true to himself at the same time.  It isn’t easy.  He was starting to make some moves in the right direction, but just as he seemed so hopeful he was sucked back in. 
I’m certain that he’d be amazed at everyone here today.  I’m also quite sure that he’d be completely gutted it was in these circumstances.  He had a tattoo on his neck, some Chinese symbols.  I never knew what it said, but he always told me it said ‘skilled plasterer’.  I’m not sure if that’s true or not, probably not, at the same time it doesn’t make any difference.  He was skilled, and he was proud of it.  If all of us were to gather today because of him he’d have wanted to be here with us, and he’d want it to be because he’d achieved something great and we were here to celebrate with him.
As a kid he loved Michael Jackson, he did a brilliant moonwalk, and liked to show it off as often as he could.  He was sensitive, he sometimes wore a bit of make-up and some dangly earrings, and had a big collection of dolls. He’s been a world expert on WWF wrestling for 30 years.  He was kind too, the only person I could persuade to sit in the toilet cubicle with me at school when I didn’t dare go on my own.   
He could be naughty as well, one of his favourite hobbies was going up to the main road and flicking v-signs at older kids on the bus so that they’d get off and chase him, which they did.  For years when we were little I seem to only ever remember him coming home out of breath, slamming the door behind him, then looking out the window to see who he’d upset.  Nicking someone’s golf balls whilst they were playing, knocking on doors.  And worse.  He didn’t always think it through very well but he didn’t really want to hurt anyone, he just enjoyed the thrill of it. 
He had his daughter Chloe when he was very young, and despite what people might have expected, he told me and probably many of you as many times as we would listen that she was the best thing that had ever happened to him.  His proudest achievement.  What you’re feeling today Chloe I can’t begin to imagine, he tried so hard to be a good dad to you and loved you unconditionally with all his heart.  I hope that you can take some strength from the love everyone here has for him.
He wasn’t a religious man, but that’s not to say he wasn’t interested in spiritual matters.  He was fascinated by what happens after we die.  He loved a conspiracy theory, from shape-shifting lizards ruling the earth to fake moon landings. 
It would be fair to say he wasn’t a big believer in God, however he was a pragmatic man.  He loved an inappropriate joke.  Given the circumstances, and the fact that the lizard people haven’t turned up yet, I’m quite certain he’d be willing to give the God idea another go.
My brother was christened in this very church just 35 years ago.  He shouldn’t be here again now in a box.  It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t seem fair.  I feel so sorry for him, more than anything because now he’ll never get the chance to prove to himself what more he could have been.  It’s easy to feel hopeless.  Normally when someone dies we try and package it up, to comfort ourselves and make it feel somehow OK.  That their suffering is finally over, or that they’d had a good long life.  It was their time. 
None of that works here, because his journey had hardly begun, and half his life was still ahead of him.  I think we’d all like to find some reason or meaning or sense in what’s happened, because otherwise it just seems such a tragic waste, and all the mad, magic, energy that was him is just gone, and we’re all poorer for it.
Who knows what he would have said if he had the chance now, to everyone he knew.  He might have just made a joke, or it could have been something profound.  He wanted so desperately to change the things he didn’t like about himself, but it’s a chance he’ll never get now. The rest of us however, get that chance anew every day for as long as we live.  For us there is always the hope that we can grow, to better ourselves and move a bit closer to being the people we really want to be. 
I suppose I hope that somewhere in this grief and sadness and senseless waste, that if we are reminded just how precious life is, how suddenly it canall end, then that might be something positive.  The next time we think about some simple thing we’d like to change about ourselves, if we actually make the effort to do something about it, however small, and as we do think for a few seconds about Joe, then in some way his energy lives on in us. Perhaps we all have a duty to those who won’t get the chance, to live the best possible lives we can.
I don’t really know what more to say.  He was a funny, complicated, generous man who wanted so much to be happy and free. I’ll miss you bro.  We all will.
Tom Fawcett


Marjorie Plant (nee Neal)

a long term resident of Desford until she had to go in to care, died in July and her funeral was held at Nuneaton Crematorium on Monday 5th August.  She was baptised and married at St Martin's and sang in the choir for many years.

Eulogy for the life of Gwendoline Maud Looker

1st May 1924 – 31st March 2019

An “Essex girl” (who’d have guessed?!) Mum was born in 1924 in the small seaside town of Dovercourt (as she would say – “the more upmarket” side of Harwich). Being a major port and with the risk of attack during the war, the local schools were evacuated, but as an only child her parents did not want her to leave home. So she left school aged 14 and attended secretarial college, then worked part time in a clothing factory, putting to use her Pitman shorthand and typing skills. Being of an adventurous spirit, she volunteered to join the WAAF at the age of 18, wanting to see more of the world. By her own admission Mum chose the WAAF in preference to the other services because she liked the uniform!

After basic training her first posting as ACW (Aircraft Woman) was to Fighter Command at RAF Coltishall, then to Ballyhulbert in Northern Ireland.  Promoted to LACW (Leading Aircraft Woman) she was sent to RAF Waddington Bomber Command (home of the Lancaster Bomber). In 1945, when the war was coming to an end, she was posted to Algiers, North Africa. After a spell in the French occupied territory she was sent by sea to Cairo, where she lived in a tent in the Sahara desert, close to the Giza pyramids. Mum was demobbed in 1946 and after all the excitement of her war years, returned to what seemed to her a sleepy Dovercourt. Although her war service was only 4 years, her time in the WAAF was a formative and important part of her life.

She married my Dad, Roger, an accountant, in 1950, and after I was born we moved to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk following Dad’s promotion. Six years later we moved to Ipswich, where Mum worked in various capacities for the police service, local government and Ipswich Civic College.

English country dancing was Mum’s great love for as long as I can remember. Dad was never a dancer, but I was docey doe-ing with her since I could walk. I have fond memories of many weekends spent watching the Ipswich Folk Dance Club and Suffolk Morris Men in various country pub yards, Dad bringing me ginger beer and crisps while we watched Mum and her “set and turn single” moves.

Mum had a wicked sense of humour and fun. Always sociable, she took up French conversation classes and wine tasting at the Ipswich Institute, following which she and her friend Molly caught the bus and were regularly seen weaving their way back home. She always loved a party, indeed was something of a flirt. Growing up I recall many parties with our neighbours, “more gin, Gwen?”.

Her naughtiness aside, Mum could be quite feisty, and tried to instill her “standards” into me. The importance of education, being well dressed, make up on at all times, which supermarket to shop at, speaking properly, some of which I have tried to adhere to, but must have sadly failed. She was very accomplished at the Telegraph crossword, enjoyed reading, music and art. Her love of music continued at St Martin’s: she loved the choir and listening to Peter playing the organ every week. Peter told me she was the only person he can remember applauding when he finished at the end of the service.

Always a kind, loving, and supportive Mother and Grandmother to myself and Hannah, she saw us through our life’s ups and downs. She regularly drove up the A14 to the Midlands to visit us in her little mini (she did manage to get out of first gear!). Ray burst into our lives in 1997, and once accustomed to his eccentricities, Mum became a much loved Mother-in-law, even venturing to Welford Road to watch Tigers with him.

My dear Dad sadly died in 2002 after Mum had nursed him at home during his final weeks. She kept up all her interests in Ipswich and celebrated her 80th birthday by organising a country dance party, and danced all night. Mum moved to her bungalow in Desford when she was 87, when her health began to fail. She loved village life and often told me she wished had moved here years ago. The welcome she received from all her friends at St Martin’s, the Free Church, her neighbours and the community was overwhelming and we thank you all. Sadly she couldn’t contribute to Church and village life as she wished, due to her lack of mobility and sight issues. Heaven help us – she would have been first on the list for the Parish Council and Church PCC! I’m sure we all have so many anecdotes (the infamous Israeli Chicken, St Peter, dancing when she thought I wasn’t looking…) which we can share after the service.

Her life was complete when Hannah and Ian moved to Markfield. In Ian she found a shared love of cricket and spritzers, and she soon became a very proud great Grandmother to Gwen and Martha. Very sadly, despite carers and family help, Mum was unable to cope at home anymore. She moved into Aylesham Court in August last year, where she received the best care and love from all the staff. Up until a few weeks before she died she was always dressed in her latest M&S purchases and the lipstick was always on.

I miss you so much Mum. Your wicked sense of humour, our fun times shopping, my confidante and best friend.

Jane Harwood

To lose one of the true constants in your life, as Gram was to me, is incredibly painful.  She brought immeasurable wit, generosity and support into my, and many others’, lives, and her passing leaves a huge void in our small family.  I will personally feel this to some degree for the rest of my life and will do everything in my gift to ensure that her memory lives on in the minds of those who knew her.  However, as sad as it is, and despite the tears that have been shed, and will continue to be shed for some time to come, I know that she would want today to be remembered as a celebration of life and would hate for it to be in any way a maudlin occasion. 

As many of you will have experienced first-hand, Gram had an incredibly stoic attitude towards life, and her intelligence and cutting sense of humour meant that she was able to hold her own in any company.  I never had to ‘adapt’ in her company; it was always like talking to a close friend. When I returned to the East Midlands in 2012, I moved in with Gram.  Some thought it a bit odd to be moving in with your grandma, but for me it was a no-brainer!  It was genuinely like moving in with a friend and we enjoyed countless chats and giggles over a white-wine spritzer or two. 

When I moved out, dropping in to the bungalow was never a chore. Quite the opposite, it was always a pleasure, as she was such good company, even when she was clearly struggling with independent living.  Gram was incredibly loving towards and appreciative of her family and my eternal hope is that she realised just how loved and appreciated she was by all of us.

My personal memories are endless and I shall treasure them forever.  In particular, heady and lengthy summers spent in Ipswich with her and my dear Grandad, endless Telegraph crosswords and games of cards, the ‘palpitations’ in Nice after one too many Williams Pear Cocktails, a lifelong appreciation of M&S food, a string of cantankerous cats and an intense dislike of yoghurt, pasta and the dreaded mushrooms!

I will miss you desperately Gram, especially our chats and mutual appreciation of a naughty joke and a lithe Olympic diver. Your sparkling smile and the laughs will never be forgotten. But you can be sure that your legacy will live on, thanks to the impact you have had on our lives and I would like to think that as a family, we can sustain your wonderful strength, tolerance and humour. 

On the day that Gram died (Mothers’ Day), mum and I went to a ‘D-Day Darlings’ afternoon tea at Combe Abbey.  It was a tearful experience, although we had a lovely time talking about memories and how Gram would have found fault with their WAAF uniforms…  The words of one song struck me as being particularly pertinent and so we thought we would ask the choir to sing it today.
Hannah Wyatt

Eulogy – Norma Alsop

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone for coming today. It really means a lot to us as a family, to see how many people cared for Norma.
My grandma was a wonderful grandma, wife, mother & friend who was very loved by so many people. She was an extremely popular lady who was part of so many societies & clubs during her life including the Art Club in Desford (where she was awarded an honorary lifetime membership), the WI and U3A. She was a regular at Coffee and Chat too.
During her life Norma was a well admired primary school teacher who was absolutely adored by all of her pupils.  I’ve been told that every Christmas my mother, my Aunty and Grandad (I shall refer to him as Gar from now on) would all sit and watch her unwrap at least 30 different presents from all of her pupils.  She taught at Stafford Leys Primary School for 18 years before she retired and it was here, she met Liz, a very special friend, who she remained in close contact with over the years, enjoying many an outing and coffee.  She also taught a lot of her friends’ children who always sung her praises. 
One feature people always mention about my grandma is her utterly infectious laugh and fun personality.  I think anyone who had the pleasure of knowing her would definitely agree. My grandma had lots of wonderful friends who all have such lovely stories of their time together. Here I have a story from Pat, one of her best friends who she met at 6th form college.
“Norma and I were at grammar school together in Dronfield. By today’s standard the school was very small with around 450 students but our sixth form, where I became really close to Norma, only had 12 students.
I remember our hikes over the Derbyshire moors in our group of 5: Norma, me, Michael (Higgy), Barry (Dopey) and John (General). We enjoyed many activities together including cycling to the hills (and pubs) of the Peak District and also visits to the concerts at the City Hall in Sheffield. After one afternoon concert, we decided to have some refreshments at a cafe on the high street. Norma was always a great giggler and although invariably elegant and prope,r you could suddenly see her face transformed by an infectious laugh. This particular afternoon we ordered tea and cakes, with Norma ordering a fancy cake sporting a swan with a marzipan neck. We were all sitting there quite sedately when Norma dug her fork into the swan cake and it shot across the table onto Barry’s lap! Cue: total loss of decorum and helpless giggles all round. The “swan with the marzipan neck” could trigger laughter from us all for years to come”.
Grandma was extremely keen on her art. She attended Art Club and lessons religiously, where she would produce the most amazing pieces of work. One of my favourite pieces is the donkey she painted as a present for my birthday, which still hangs proudly in my bedroom at home. As much as everyone adores my grandma’s artwork, no one was a bigger fan of it than Gar. Every time she created a new piece he would say “look at the signature at the bottom!” and point proudly.
A fond memory from spending time with my grandma is her teaching me to draw and how to use watercolours.  I always loved finding new things to paint and getting to use all of my grandma’s fancy watercolours, I felt like a real artist.
Not only was she a talented artist but Norma was also a baker!  Every year my grandma would make birthday cakes for the family; no one will forget the famous Malteser cake!  I know my brother especially will agree on this, but our grandma’s steak pie was the most amazing treat.  I remember us both arguing over who got to eat the carefully designed pastry petals that decorated the pie. 
I’m sure everyone here will agree that Norma always looked so lovely and classy. No matter what the occasion, she would be dressed in the most beautiful outfits (most likely pink!) Her fashion sense was something to be admired and I can’t lie, it was the biggest compliment if my grandma said that I was dressed nicely!
I’ve always wondered where our family, especially the females, have got the passion for gossiping and the ability to talk for hours, but I think we can all agree it is from my grandma.  She would be on the phone for hours talking and gossiping with her friends- more often than not you would get the engaged tone whenever you tried to call the house phone!  And if she wasn’t on the phone, you would most likely find her in the village, catching up with her friends over a coffee.  I’ve been told that my grandma would tell Gar she was just nipping to the local shop and return 4 cups of coffee and 4 hours later!
I have another story here from Sally, a lifelong friend of my grandma, who she met at teacher training college in Lincoln.
“Norma and I met on our first day at Lincoln Diocesan Training College at the beginning of a two-year Teacher Training Course. We were both only ones and both quite shy, so being in a four-bed dormitory was a real eye opener. Fortunately, we all got on well in spite of being very different personalities and I don’t ever recall a fallout, which I suppose was quite something!
Norma’s Mum was a wonderful cook and she used to send marvellous tuck boxes (by post!) of fruit cake, buns and scones, which Norma generously shared with us all. We usually managed to consume the lot on the day it arrived.
Norma used to pin her hair up in Bobby grips, very carefully- and unfailingly- and just as carefully, they would all be laid out in the morning on the top of her bedside cupboard. She would sit bolt upright and say wonderingly,”Who did that?” at which point we would all collapse with laughter. Nobody could do aggrieved confusion like Norma! But she had a lovely and infectious laugh and it’s something I shall always hear and remember about her.  And of course “Who did that? “ became our watchword for any occasion- regardless of its relevance. They were good days!”


Eulogy - Ruth Ward

Ruth was born in Birmingham on the 21st September 1933, the 7th child of Percy and Clara Fripp. Ruth's father had been seriously wounded at Passchendaele in World War One aged19. Because of this the family trade of Upholstering was difficult for him and finances were always to be limited. Thankfully Ruth's mother was a practical, hardworking and resourceful lady.
As a child Ruth loved her large family and particularly the atmosphere created when everyone came together- these close bonds that were developed in childhood remained between her sisters and brother for the rest of their lives.
Ruth was a bright young girl and an early interest in numbers was evident. From an early age she could add up the darts scores and work out the horse betting odds for her father. Ruth passed her 11+ to go to the Grammar School. Unfortunately this education was not free and her early contribution to the household finances was necessary and so she could not attend. Instead, on leaving school Ruth trained as a GPO Telephonist and progressed to a supervisory and administrative role.
A chance meeting at a Halloween dance aged 23 brought Ruth and Brian together. Within 2 years the couple had married, initially, residing in the upstairs of Brian's mother's terraced house in Bordesley Green. They both worked full time with Brian also studying to complete professional examinations to qualify as an Industrial Chemist. Ruth gave unwavering support for him to study full time for the last academic year which provided him with the opportunity to successfully complete his degree. This quiet background support was a theme that continued throughout their 59 years of marriage.
After 2 years of marriage and with Ruth's careful management of the finances they bought their first home in Yardley.
Brian was promoted and they moved north to live in Newton Aycliffe (Near Darlington). The births of Simon and Elizabeth quickly followed. They lived in a rural area and were relatively self- sufficient with a lot of home grown vegetables, even keeping chickens for a short period of time. Neither wished to leave the North East but further promotion for Brian meant the family moving to Grangemouth in Scotland. In 1971 another move brought them back south to Leicester and closer to family in the West Midlands.
They settled in Desford with Ruth completing two 'O' levels before starting to work at Tl Tubes in Desford where she stayed until retirement. Ruth and Brian both enjoyed being closer to family and I have fond memories of travelling back on many an evening from Birmingham, me and my brother asleep in the back of the car snuggled up together with the radio playing.
Ruth was an excellent cook and the sharing and preparing of meals was central to family life. We all had our favourite Ruth recipes and meals; Mine were Sunday dinners, but I know others enjoyed the mince pies, the scones, the date o late, lemon meringue pie ..... She had a particular way of using her hands diligently and precisely... and even now I can visualise her working away.
However there were certain occasions when Ruth preferred not to be interrupted. One was during completion of the Telegraphs' cryptic crossword after tea each evening. Another was if the athletics or swimming were on the television- she particularly loved the Common Wealth and Olympic Games.
Ruth was always interested in political and social history. After retiring she attended Adult Education History classes before researching both her own and The Wards 'Family Tree's'. She visited many records offices, sites and completed background reading so that she could understand the context of the information that had been unearthed.
Ruth enjoyed spending time in the outdoors and particularly loved walking; many happy holidays were spent with the Leicester Forest Walking club, with Holiday Fellowship and also Family.
She took pleasure in all aspects of gardening enjoying 'grubbing about in the soil' and even last year was enthusiastic to show me plants that were springing into life.
Her son Simons' sudden unexpected death at the age of 17 was a massive blow and one from which she never fully recovered. With time, life did return to relative normality and the arrival of 3 Grandchildren Tom, Rachel and Nick gave her enormous pleasure. She played a very consistent, supportive and nurturing role in their lives. She remains a very much loved Grandma.
Over the last 10 years of Ruth's life she battled against a series of health issues. She continued to try and stay as active as she could but roles gradually became reversed and my Father and I became her main supports.
Today, we remember Ruth as an intelligent, forward thinking, family orientated and very caring lady, who positively influenced and loved us all.
We are all certainly much better people for having had Ruth in our lives.


Eulogies for Jill Sharpe

There’s so many memories of Jill, so many I could share. I’d be here all day. So let me tell you about the Jill I knew. 

I think the thing I want to say most is that whenever I was with Jill I laughed. 

Sometimes at Richard, like when he fell asleep during a lunch, and Jill flicked yoghurt across the table and her aim was brilliant as it hit him clean in the face. 

Sometimes at myself, when my history knowledge was below par, and she was teaching me about things I’d never even heard of. 

Sometimes just out on shopping trips, when we tried on fascinators in the middle of Debenhams. Or the time I was asked to meet her in tarbrushes for a cup of tea, which I eventually worked out was Starbucks. But I still call it tarbrushes even now! 

Sometimes we would laugh at her, like when we would sit down to watch things on the tv, deal or no deal, spooks, the news, and then she would fall asleep, wake up at the end, and asked me what she’s missed.. 

Another thing I always appreciated from Jill was her wonderful advice. Whether it was listening to her when I was planning things for youth groups. 

The advice I got when I was pregnant with my son, and beyond, is invaluable. 

She also wasn’t afraid to give me a ticking off when I needed it. I remember one time I was procrastinating massively when I was a student and I got a right ticking off for not doing my assignments, I even got told that I wasn’t going out anywhere until it was finished! I mean of course I threw a strop, but knew you didn’t mess with Mrs Sharpe and got that assignment done! I owe a lot of getting through my degree to jill! It was all out of love though. 

I also remember myself and Richard getting told we couldn’t sit together at a meeting that was being run by Jill, as we were disruptive together, you did not mess with Mrs Sharpe when she wanted to get things done! I admire that so much though she was so strong.  

Between girly chats, trips to the garden centre’s, looking at clothes, her teaching me how to make risotto, her making mince pies with me as I’d never made them before, phone calls where she would listen to me, and we would chat. And I shall miss her, and was so thankful and fortunate to know her, and have her play a massive part in my life.

Jackie McCulloch

One summer, around 3 or 4 years ago, Mum and Dad had come down to visit Sarah and I in Woolwich. As usual, this included a family dinner in the Café Rouge in Greenwich, and as usual Mum had announced that she had been shopping for clothes for me; remember I was still only in my mid-twenties. Sarah, Dad and I had experienced this before, and waited with interest to see what would emerge from the bag.

First there came a light lemon yellow checked shirt. I looked to Sarah’s face as my guide, and seeing only a slight creasing of the eyes decided that this could perhaps be worn in private. However, it was then followed by what Mum insisted was a complimentary pair of trousers. It was in fact a matching pair of trousers. Also pale lemon.The exact shade.Even with my limited fashion faculties, I managed to conjure an image of my rounded form clothed in this ensemble. I resembled, in my mind’s eye, something akin to either a melon or the actual sun.

This is one of my favourite of memories of Mum, in that it summed up an aspect of her character which I have seen praised over and over again in the cards we have received. It was that selfless love that does not wait to be asked. It reacts on instinct to a perceived need. It sometimes even reacts with such speed and urgency that, as in this case, it might not stop to consider all of the ramifications and might even be done in spite of the desires of the recipient. Why? For their own good; whether they were aware of it or not.

I have been grateful for the messages people have given us, as it revealed that this kindness was a common theme to all of us. It did not wait to be asked to contribute, to guide, to assist, but simply did.

It also took people with it. It led by example, to the point I have found several times that even I, laid back as Mum always found me to her frustration, could not comfortably sit whilst others around me worked. That does not come from me. It came from her. It was that aspect of leadership which others have told me came from what she had done, and been, for many years; and showed others around her that she expected from them what she demanded of herself.

This could be painful, as I often found - in particular on the occasion that I and a group of fellow students from King’s London Chaplaincy were walking from Otford to Canterbury on pilgrimage. It was the 3rd or 4th day, and Mum had volunteered to support us as we travelled; partly as one member had considered hiking the 15 miles a day across Kent with a roller suitcase. She had parked the car, and had joined us in the church we were staying in just in time to see me laid up on a pew with one boot off and a bleeding foot, whilst my friends were very kindly getting our things out of the car.

She looked at me, looked at them, and said to me “I see you’re letting your friends do the work for you.” It is a testimony to the power of this person, and particularly the perfected teacher voice and look, that I actually started to get up and hobble off before I was made to sit down again and told to stop being stupid.

That was the example. You did not sit before others had sat. You do not eat until the others have been served, and you don’t complain of a bleeding foot when everyone else has trekked 15 miles as well. To my shame, I have not always lived up to this example. But it is thanks to Mum that I can never claim ignorance of its power, and its truth. To my pride, I have seen it shown to me in practice, and have had that practice commended to me by many here, in how Mum lived her life and supported my father in his.

She always was my keenest motivator, and the most effective.

I feel then that it is now for me to show that this motivation was not wasted. It is my hope that one day I will turn to my own children with the pale yellow shirt and trousers in my hand to give to them, to respond to their needs as she did; to show that love to others as she did, and through that perhaps they will see there even a little piece of the greater part that I was given to follow.

Christopher Sharpe

Jill’s friend Mrs Liz Collier observed to me that Jill would have been very embarrassed that such a crowd of people has covered such a distance-hundreds of miles-because of her. Jill was not an attention seeker. She was essentially shy. I said to Liz, “They’re here because of who Jill was, what she did and the memories you have of her.” Here are a few of mine.

Gillian Denise SHARPE, born Gillian Denise COOKE on August 5th 1944, in Melksham, Wiltshire. She was the only daughter of Frank and Maud. I never knew either, but I have met them through Jill. She was close to her father. When she watched the Festival of Remembrance every year on the television, when they played “Eternal Father” or “The day thou gavest Lord is ended,” she would often cry. Did she fully grieve for him?

Her cousin Viv (here today) described Jill’s mother as ( I quote) a “formidable woman” or, as Jill’s friend Judy put it “You didn’t get the wrong side of Mrs. Cooke.” She once told cricketer Geoffrey Boycott and current female companion, who had pushed to the front of the queue at some cricket tea, to, “Sit down over there and take your turn.” Don’t get me wrong. Mrs Cooke was a loving mother. She also died from lung cancer when Jill was 31 and Christopher is-you have guessed it-31 and his mother has died from lung cancer.

Jill’s earliest years were spent in Chester. Father was still away in the R.A.F. Then they all moved back to Driffield in East Yorkshire. Jill went to school on the train to Bridlington. Jill never liked trains much. If the train left at 8am, she would go for the one that left at 7am. At school, she met Pam (here today) and Judy (sadly detained by a sick relative in Southampton.) Jill came up through Brownies and Guides and that connection and ethos continued up until the mid 1990s.

Jill studied to be a teacher in Bradford. Her first school was Clifton Street, at the bottom of Beverley Road in Hull and not far from the station.

Jill found her way into Special Needs Education-both moderate and severe-and she stayed in it until retirement in 2012. Her school in Hull was Alderman Teskey King and her colleague and friend Liz Collier is with us, with her three daughters, for whom Jill was Auntie Jill and of whom the middle one, Rosie, was to play a crucial role at a very tender age.

In 1982, Rosie was presented for Holy Baptism at Holy Trinity Church, Hull, now known as Hull Minster. Her friend Margaret Nicholson from there is here today. Jill.walked in to that huge building, turned and said to someone, “What is that?” The “That” was me, an unmarried, under-fed man in his thirties and clearly in need of what OFSTED might call “Special Measures.”

Jill put those measures into place. She transferred to Holy Trinity and listened as I preached sermons. Unknown to me, a more long-term solution was being formed.

I discovered Jill’s surname COOKE was well-chosen; a surname that hungry bachelors should take note of.

C is also for cat; we had two each.

C is also for Carte, D’Oyly Carte or if you prefer Gilbert & Sullivan. I discovered that Jill and I had both been associates of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Trust, until the Arts Council, or some similar body, decided it was hopelessly old-fashioned and was dissolved in 1982.

C is also for car. Jill’s car was a Vauxhall. We called it little VAG because of the registration number. More about cars in a moment. I didn’t drive and Jill considered me to be one of the most physically un-co-ordinated people she had ever met.

C is also for Club. I ran a lads’ club on the estate at the bottom of Hessle Road, in the daughter church. Jill recognised how that could be vastly improved and came to help. She also ran a Brownie Pack and noticed that, when she came to open up, the heaters had been already switched on. A penny had begun to drop.

C is also for cupid. We were falling in love. A wedding was fixed for January 4th 1986 in the Church of the Holy Apostles, Walker Street, Hull. “I’ll read the Banns myself,” I said. Plans were made. We set off in the car to tell my mother in Leicester the good news. There was one thing I still hadn’t done. What was that? I still hadn’t proposed.

So, Jill stopped the car in a layby near Nuneaton, that Love Island of North Warwickshire-and I asked her to be my wife. There had already been a row in Corporation Street, Birmingham. I had a clean shirt so I didn’t see why I needed to buy a new one specially. I had much to learn.

For the Wedding, we self-catered for 200 guests at a £1 per head, including wine. The lads and Brownies filled the choir stalls, as did friends and relatives, including my Best Man, William, who is here today. A mixed company-everything from old Etonians to old Borstalians, with a good sprinkling of Owstons, drawn from Kirkbymoorside.

It was once said that a clergyman’s ministry was doubled or halved by the woman to whom he was married. Mine was trebled and, whatever little I may have achieved as a minister is largely due to her.

In the 1980s we were not aware that any training was offered to clergy wives. In 2019, some here will be shocked that she should have sacrificed any of her time to support me, when she was already employed full-time in her own, demanding career. But sacrifice she did and, where love is, it’s no sacrifice, it’s a joy….no problem in fact!

Jill. was allergic to onions. She was allergic to nickel. She was allergic to and skilled at spotting liars, including husbands who have been out with their mate to the pub and have just come in around midnight. She was allergic to sons, whose otherwise sharp memory sometimes played them false.

She was allergic to the greedy. As Boris might tell you, Avaritia non estsatis. Greed never has enough. It takes and it takes until it has bled you dry and then it spits you out. Generosity always has enough. It gives and gives because it loves. It is not seeking favours. It is not after something. It is not quid pro quo. Jill knew that and lived that. Understand that and you have understood her.

In 1987, some eighteen months after our wedding day, Christopher Peter James was born-Mum and Dad’s favourite boy. Children change a marriage and they change a ministry. Kick changed us. We changed him.

The three of us, plus four cats, left the Team Ministry of Chelmsley Wood, an east Birmingham housing estate of 20,000 plus, twelve baptisms a month, two part-time hospital chaplaincies, and we moved to St. Paul’s, Dosthill, south of Tamworth, Staffordshire.

“Are you sure you want to go there?” asked a kind Archdeacon. The living was suspended and the level of giving was the third lowest in the Diocese of Birmingham. I will delicately say that, like too many churches, it was stuck in a time-warp, with a low level of self-confidence, in a village which was filling up with Brummies, not born round there. It presented us with some challenging people, who found their new Priest-in-charge strange but kind. We stuck at it, the church grew. They held their first-ever Flower Festival in 1989. The Churchwarden said He couldn’t find anything to criticise -----high praise indeed.

We began a youth club and were helped by Mike and Sue Jones-here today-who became good friends. Jill was so creative, planning family services. Her crucial skill was to set up a group of young mums who, with their Bibles ready, were the delivery team. Jill recruited a gifted musician, who got them producing Christian musicals like Hosanna Rock. Jill encouraged Alpha and supported me in the large primary school, where Kick was a pupil.

By the time we left in 1997, a mission-minded Bishop George Kavoor, was willing to oversee things, until a new Vicar was appointed. He saw promise. The church went on to produce an ordinand.

Back to my home county of Leicestershire. Canon Willett wrote to us I have identified a vacancy, suitable for a family of three, with four cats. Some 26 people from Desford have made the 300 mile round trip to be here, plus some of Christopher’s friends who knew Jill, because she was his mum. So I will speak carefully.

Back in 1997 I was the seventh candidate to be interviewed. Things at both ends of the Benefice were badly-bruised and bruising never makes for growth. Jill and I were busy; youth clubs in both churches, lots of sermons and a culture of hospitality, in which Jill excelled. But the real trick is this. Clergy achieve as much or as little as their congregations wish to. Don’t ask How good was your Rector’s wife, or even her husband? Ask,“What are the people doing to share the Gospel”and“what will they be doing when he and his wife have left?” Leadership, delegation and risk-taking are key.

“All work and no play make Jill and Richard dull.” We loved our family holidays-in North Norfolk, North Wales, the Lake District, down in Dunster in Somerset and, of course, here in Ryedale. When Kick became a student in London, Jill and I loved the buzz of the place. We used our National Trust, English Heritage and Historic Houses membership to take us and Kick to so many places and, if that meant term-time, so be it. I considered the provision of History teaching deficient. Jill would never fly, so continental holidays were done by slow coach journeys.

We loved concerts in the De-Montfort Hall, Leicester, with the Philharmonia, sitting in cheap seats below the double bases.

Jill would say to me, You have no ambition. Ambition for what? I would think. She wasn’t ambitious either. What KoKo in The Mikado calls the long and weary dances of career and preferment we let pass us by.

We retired in 2012 to Kirkbymoorside, where we were warmly welcomed here at All Saints. There was coffee to be served, magazines to bundle, a Men’s Group to chair and for Jill, a Messy Church to recruit and oversee and “Storytime” in the library to prepare and give. There was room stewarding for us both at Nunnington Hall. In 2017, Christopher and Sarah were married at Christ Church, East Greenwich-a happy and memorable day.

Jill was injured in an attack on her by a student back in 2006. Her walking grew less and less. Her sitting was more and more. More recentlystill, she was gripped by several quite pronounced panic attacks.

Last year, research identified an in-operable tumour. Treatment gave Jill six months of more-or-less outwardly normal life and, true to form, she told only a few about her state of health, which is why it came as such a shock.

From last December, I was nurse. Jill gave up driving. She chose to die at home, which came on February 3rd. We exchanged one last Wedding Anniversary card-our thirty third-in January, in which we thanked each other for marriage, a son, a daughter-in-law and a home together.

On many occasions, Jill said to me I am dying. I saw this. I was given (and I will be given) time to think about this. I offer the following, interim observations.

First, what St. Paul wrote, “Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.”

Second, we have received so much. The coffin carries one word THANKYOU.

Third.Religious belief and Church have a particularly (and deservedly) bad press at the moment. Where was Jill’s God, they will ask? This is a crucial question. My answer is - on the Cross.

Last. A lady wrote to the Observer newspaper a few Sundays ago, Why are so many modern novels so dark? Sarah or Viv may offer an answer, but my reaction takes me to another woman, Mary: no, not in a stable, but despairing in a garden. She sees an empty tomb, full of light       

and she never looked back.

Richard Sharpe

Steve Price

  •          As far as uncles go he was the best
  •          He always had a joke to tell
  •          A really nice kind man
  •          He had a real zest for life
  •          A great friend whose advice I always valued
  •          He truly lived, laughed and loved.

These were a few of the sentiments expressed following the death of Steve Price, who died aged 68 following a short illness. The church was full to capacity for his funeral service on 16th October conducted by The Rector, The Rev Tom Ringland.

At the time of his birth in Bosworth Park Infirmary (now Bosworth Hall), Steve’s parents May and Dick were living in High Street in the building which eventually became Hutt’s ironmongery shop.

Very much what locals call “Old Desford,” Steve was baptised in St Martin’s Church and became a choirboy there. His mum and dad were married in St Martin’s, had their funerals there and four of his great grandparents are buried in the churchyard.

Originally trained as a chef at Leicester’s Central Institute College, Steve began full-time work at The Army and Navy Club in Pall Mall, a top London club for senior officers of the British Armed Forces. After he returned to Leicestershire his career went on to encompass the hospital, industrial, hospitality and university catering industries. He served a term as secretary of the East Midlands Industrial Catering Association and travelled with colleagues to Harvard University in America to study the catering operation there. At one time he was an area manager overseeing numerous pubs, restaurants and hotels throughout the Midlands and at retirement he was Head of Catering, Conferencing and Student Accommodation at Nottingham Trent University.

It was in Desford that Steve met Ina, his wife of 48 years. They went on to have a son, Trevor, who delivered a humorous and moving tribute to his father at the service, and daughter, Carla, plus six grandchildren: Megan, Georgia, Charlie, Maggie, Milo and Will now aged between 24 and 2. Then last year Ivy their great granddaughter arrived to Megan and her partner Jay. Over the years, grandchildren staying or holidaying with Steve and Ina was a common occurrence where Grandad turned every meal into a work of art.

It was said during the service that the term “Family Man” could have been coined for Steve. He adored his close and wider family and would do anything for them. He was the eldest of three children and his sisters Wendy and Pat were very close to their brother. With their partners they enjoyed lots of nights out, gatherings at each others’ homes and holidays together.

Ina’s family, originally from Scotland, also lived locally and the two sides of their families became very much entwined over the years. Cousins, nieces and nephews all mingled happily at Steve’s legendary barbecues and parties. He was regarded by all of them s a wonderful and generous host.

A keen boy scout in his youth as a member of the 94th Leicester Desford Scouts right up until adulthood, he was happy to help out as volunteer chef at a cub camp and fundraising scout barbecue.

Steve’s creative personality showed in some of his many interests over the years. He completed a course in dry stone walling and loved garden design. Photography was another hobby that he shared with his sister Wendy as members of the local U3A Photographic Club. He also had a wide range of DIY skills. His daughter Carla said that if you were ever stranded on a desert island forget Bear Grylls, her Dad was the one you’d need!

He could catch, kill, skin, clean and cook rabbits, build shelters in woodland out of pretty much anything and once even knitted a hammock-shaped shoe rack for a tent out of string. His DIY skills came in handy when for several years after retirement he and his youngest sister Pat bought and renovated old houses. Many family and friends also benefited from his freely given decorating and tiling ability over the years.

Other interests throughout his lifetime included badminton (he and Ina were founder members of Desford Badminton Club), horse riding, sailing (he had his Royal Yachting Association qualification), windsurfing, snooker, woodwork, table tennis, reading historical novels and his much beloved golf for the last 15 years.

The congregation heard that Steve was a thoughtful, spiritual and caring man with a great love of nature and the countryside. He completed the challenging 200 mile Coast to Coast Walk across the north of England in 10 days for charity and spent many happy hours teaching his grandchildren about plants, birds and animals.

Although Steve lived virtually all his life in Desford, he loved to travel. He and Ina were fortunate enough to visit dozens of countries worldwide during their life together, one of the most recent trips being to South Africa where he fulfilled a long-held wish to go on safari.

He would have been the first to say that he had enjoyed a very full, active, happy and contented 68 years and general good health until very recently. His popularity and standing as a friend, colleague and much loved family member was evidenced by the fact that there were people at the service from every decade and aspect of his life.

Almost £1000 was donated to Cancer Research UK in memory of Steve from those attending the service.


Holy Baptism 2019


11th August Layla Jacqueline Walker,
daughter of Tom Walker and Alison Goody


17th Feb – Aria Gill

Cerian Lucy Tilley – 16th February 2019

The daughter of Ceinwen and Darren Tilley was baptized at St. Martin’s Desford on Saturday 16th February 2019.

Following in her mother’s footsteps whose baptism was done by her Grandpa; Cerian was baptized by her Taid (Grandfather John Stone) who shared leading the service with our Rector, Tom.

Along with her parents at this beginning of her journey of faith, Cerian was supported by four Godparents and many friends and family. We pray that from this beginning Cerian will develop a strong faith herself and continue to share in the Church family life.

10th Feb – Florence Wright



We offer our condolences to all who grieve or who have faced the anniversaries of losses


For funeral information please use this link

Church Of England Funerals