The funeral service was held at 12pm on Monday 13th July 2020 at Mortlake Crematorium.
As capacity was limited, the service was be webcast live for those who cannot attend. A video recording has been made available below.
A live webcast of the service was also recorded, which will be made available soon. Here are the details you will need to view it:
- Open the webcast page (opens in a new tab)
- Enter your Webcast Login details which are as follows:
- The Order ID: 40081
- Password: yzemusgz
- Tick the box to agree to the Terms & Conditions
- Click the Login button
Please note the video of the webcast may not yet be available.
Tributes to Mum
Mum was brought up in Sunderland with her younger brother Harry and her little sister Ann. Mum’s dad, also called Harry, worked in the Income Tax Office and her mum, Annie, my Gran, worked at Joplings Department store from the age of 14.
The family lived in a Council house, 4 Chapman Street. I have very fond memories of that house. I remember my Gran making up the coal fire in the morning, the mangle in the garden shed and the low picket fences which made it easy to chat to the neighbours Mr and Mrs Hearst.
Mum, Harry and Ann all attended Fulwell Junior School directly opposite their house. It was the war years and Mum enjoyed telling the grandchildren stories about rationing, the air raid shelter and Doodlebugs. Mum passed her 11+ and went on to the Bede Grammar School for Girls.
Mum was always very fond of her younger sister Ann, helping to look after her when she was little. Ann remembers Mum teaching her to count in French and German when they were in bed at night. “Always the teacher” as Ann says. Despite the war mum had a very happy childhood, with Saturday mornings at the cinema and Saturday afternoons at Roker Park with her father watching Sunderland play. We were all impressed to learn that mum’s grandfather, Joe Knowles, played football for Sunderland, Tottenham and QPR.
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Mum was extremely bright, winning the Mayfield prize for the top Maths O level result in the whole of Durham. She was also captain of the school netball team. But she wasn’t just bright, she worked hard and had a photographic memory. While her teachers wanted her to stay on to take the Oxbridge exam, there wasn’t the money to send her there and as a compromise she attended Hull University, an external college of the prestigious London University. It helped sway her parents that my Auntie Lily lived in Hull and she and Mum’s cousin Dot, would be on hand to deal with any emergencies. Mum was very close to Dot – they had played together as young cousins. Mum won more academic prizes at University and after graduating in history she went on to qualify as a teacher, soon becoming Head of History at Sunderland High School for Girls.
She met Dad at a dance at Seaburn Hall on the seafront. He told us he had to ask her several times before she eventually agreed to dance with him. They went on holiday to St Malo together. There’s a lovely picture of her in the Order of Service with her first glass of rose wine. Dad told Emma he had to promise my Gran before they went that there wouldn’t be any “hanky panky”.
They were married on 11 August 1956. It was the start of the strongest and happiest marriage anyone could ever wish for.
They spent their honeymoon in The Hague. Dad told us how Mum rushed into the cold North Sea for a dip while he stood on the shore studying the headlines in the Sunderland Echo….wondering whether he should follow her in in case she got into trouble. The cold / hot thing continued as a bit of a theme throughout their lives.
Mum and Dad moved down South after they were married and their first home was a caravan they bought with the £300 Dad received when he was discharged from the Merchant Navy. Mum continued to teach history in Reading later teaching Maths at Basingstoke High School for Girls.
When my brother and I were born Mum gave up teaching for a while but was still very busy at home. She was a talented seamstress and knitter, making all manner of clothes for me and Peter including fully insulated red snow suits.
When we started school in Great Bookham, Mum went back to work part time, teaching Maths and history at Howard of Effingham School. Looking back, she was a wonderful role model. Hardly any of my friends’ mothers worked at that time.
Our childhood in Burrows Close was very happy. I remember Mum taking Peter and me in the Morris Minor to the Burford Bridge Hotel after school for picnic teas and a swim in the outdoor pool and every November mum and dad helped to organise enormous bonfires with fireworks and hot food for the whole Close.
When we moved to Guildford in 1971 Mum taught Maths at George Abbott School. I remember her inventing games involving all sorts of props which she spent hours making in the evenings to help keep the pupils in what at that time was called her ‘remedial class’ interested and learning. She was a very committed and caring teacher. She and Dad made good friends both with other teachers at George Abbott and also with neighbours in Beatty Avenue. They continued to remain in touch, meeting up for lunches at the Lensbury.
Mum was passionate about politics, and about State education and the NHS. She became a founding member of the SDP and much later, and perhaps because of the Maths, a supporter of Vince Cable.
Mum organised all our wonderful family holidays both ‘on the Continent’ as it used to be called and in the UK. Later, after Dad retired she continued to organise holidays and cruises for the two of them in Canada, the USA and Europe.
The holiday theme continued after the grandchildren were born, with trips to Eurodisney and regular annual holidays to Center Parcs.
In 2001 Mum and Dad moved to Beech Court in Teddington which mum always said was the best thing they ever did. They joined the Lensbury Club and became regulars in the gym and the clubhouse, watching Sunderland (when they used to play in the Premiership) and enjoying Tuesday lunch club with their Lensbury friends. Mum enjoyed inviting friends and relatives for lunch at the Lensbury too, working hard to keep in touch with them all. She loved watching the grandchildren play sport and became a regular on the touch line at Teddington Hockey Club when the Ladies 1s were playing at home.
They attended Church at the end of our road with Joe the Vicar, making some wonderful friends and taking part in church lunches, bazaars, teas and Harvest suppers. Christmas always started with poor Mum trying to reserve seats for us all at the 5 O’Clock crib service. No mean feat given how ridiculously popular this event is.
Mum was a regular at Toni & Guy on the High Street, picking up all the gossip from Lucas while she had her hair done and she and Dad enjoyed coffee with friends at Marks & Spencer. She enjoyed using her Freedom Pass and would catch the bus to Surbiton for her French conversation classes. She and Dad also enjoyed play-readings at Fullerton Court.
She wasn’t really interested in computers until she got an iPad and then suddenly she was in charge of the Ocado orders, online shopping and reading e-library books.
We shared a love of the theatre (especially musicals). She took me to the members room at the Royal Academy for tea and I took her to the V&A on my +1 membership.
Mum’s wanderlust continued even when Dad announced he had seen enough of the world and would now prefer to stay at home while she went off to an Austrian ski resort to see the snowy mountains. So it was that a few days later I received a worried phone call from Dad to say he could not reach mum at the hotel telephone number she had left him. When I rang the travel company they explained that to resolve a double booking problem, Mum had kindly volunteered to change hotels on the transfer from the airport. When eventually I managed to speak to her, she not only explained the change of hotel but added that she had slipped on the ice and broken her arm but not to worry as everyone had been very helpful at the hospital and she really didn’t want to cause a fuss. That was Mum all over.
Mum adored her grandchildren, Christopher, Jenny, Emma, Becky and Charlie….and they adored her. When they were small she never refused an invitation to spend time with them. She was generous, loving and entertaining…and incredibly proud of them all.
Much to Mum’s delight, Emma and her Cambridge friends organised a formal dinner for all their grandparents at Clare College and there is no doubt that her presence, with Dad, at Emma’s graduation made the day even more special.
The grandchildren were very lucky to have had the company of both their grandparents for so long and to have enjoyed such close and loving relationships with them. As the grandchildren became older, they in their turn chose to spend time with their grandparents whenever they could, taking annual leave when mum had her stroke in order to be with her and offering their support at physiotherapy sessions and MDT meetings while she was in hospital – and they continued to visit her at every opportunity at Lynde House.
When noisy restaurants made it difficult to keep up with the conversation, Mum enjoyed coming to our house for regular Sunday lunches cooked by Stuart. She loved our wonderful family Christmases too, throwing herself into the boisterous board games in her famous sparkly tops. I am very grateful to Stuart for all the support he gave Mum and Dad while they lived in Teddington, willingly taking on the role of chauffeur and general handyman as Dad became less able to fix things himself.
Mum’s stroke was truly devastating, not only for her but for all of us. My relationship with her changed. I became her carer and spokesperson as well as her daughter, visiting her nearly every day until Lockdown (and all this while caring for Dad too). The staff at Lynde House became our extended family and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them on behalf of our whole family for the wonderful care they provided to Mum and for the support they gave me. Mum was so pleased when Dad joined her there.
It is very sad to have lost both Mum and Dad in the space of just 3 weeks but it is also a relief that they are now at peace together. They were married for nearly 66 years. They were a remarkable team and loved each other in every sense of the word. As I have mentioned before, the value of their amazing partnership was far greater than the sum of its parts.
Cathy Withycombe 13 July 2020
Mum was as brilliant a mum as anyone could wish for, when we were ill she cared for us,when we were hungry she fed us. She made sure we were clothed, washed and behaved with good manners. She taught us the difference between right and wrong and made sure we did our homework and revision so we both were well educated.
I remember Sunday roast lunches, rhubarb crumble, bread and butter pudding and many other dishes made only the way mum could make them.
I remember Christmases with many presents at the end of my bed. We had camping holidays in the south of France and many other places across Europe.
Mum made sure I had a proper send off at my wedding and when they arrived always asked about her grand children.
Mum always wanted to help and support the grandchildren as much as possible and initially that consisted of regular holidays to centre parcs, a visit to Portsmouth to see hms victory and a visit to Disneyland Paris. My mum was obviously a huge influence on my life and was always pleased when we drove to London to visit. After her stroke and during her life in the care home she always raised a smile when she saw us and the children made sure she and dad understood what amazing grand parents they were and how much all the things they had done over the years were appreciated.
Both as a Mum and Gran she was loved dearly and we will miss her.