From The Parish Registers At St. Martin's Desford

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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


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. 

 

 


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.

For funeral information please use this link

Church Of England Funerals