From The Parish Registers At St. Martin's Desford

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Church Of England Funerals

Weddings 2019

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

Funerals 2019

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


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Church Of England Funerals