Lorna Fewtrell 1921-2016


Lorna Fewtrell’s funeral was held at St Mary’s Easton on Tuesday 13th September 2016.  The church was packed out and the service led by Revd. Rebecca Fardell was very moving.

Psalm 121 was read and the hymns: All Creatures of our God and King, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, Lord of all Hopefulness Lord of All Joy, and Praise my Soul the King of Heaven were sung.  John Purver played the organ.  Maddy Woosnam sang Ave Verum Corpus and the readings were 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 and John 14:1-6,27 read by Lorna’s grandchildren James Fewtrell and Louisa Hunter.

Clare Fewtrell’s tribute to her mother was as follows:

Mummy’s Funeral – 13th September, 2016

I’m not quite sure where to start.  Mummy’s granddaughter, Louisa, gave lovely tribute to her at her 80th and 90th birthday parties, which many of you may remember, and which I could never emulate.  Instead, I thought I should tell you something about my mother’s long and eventful life.

She was born in 1921 and had two older brothers.  They lived in a big house in Liverpool where children were expected to be seen and not heard.  They were looked after by a much-loved nanny and only saw their parents at supper time.  In spite of this, Mummy developed a very close relationship with her mother who was also a wonderful “Gaggy” to us.

Mummy wanted to go to Oxford to study law, but family finances didn’t allow this, so she worked in a library for a bit and joined the Women’s Auxillary Air Force (or WAAF) on a part-time basis as she thought it might be quite fun.  However, when war broke out she was told that from now on she would be coming in every day.

Since she couldn’t type or drive, she was initially assigned to the officers’ mess where she waited on tables and cleaned the loos.  When she went home, her parents asked her what she was doing so she said it was Top Secret.  Life in the ranks was pretty tough, but the women she served with, many of whom came from the slums of Birmingham, were enormously kind to her.

Fortunately, Mummy’s leadership qualities were soon recognized and she received her commission and was a WAAF officer on various RAF stations during the war.  These were dire times, and many of her air force friends were killed, including her favourite brother and the young pilot she was hoping to marry.  Although it was a challenging time, they were all young, so there was also much partying and evening trips to London.

Immediately after the war, Mummy was posted to Germany where she visited Belsen Concentration Camp soon after it was liberated and met some of its inmates.  One was a young woman to whom she promised that she would attend the trial of the doctors that had committed such attrocities in the camp, which she subsequently did.

Mummy was the Staff Officer looking after WAAF units in Saxony and Berlin and it was there that she met another staff officer Felicity Hill, who subsequently went on to become Air Commandant (or head) of the Women’s Royal Air Force.  They have been close friends ever since and continued their friendship as residents of the Dower House.  I’m delighted that Dame Felicity (who is now 100) is with us today, together with Fiona Norman, the Deputy Matron at the Dower House.  Fiona was a favourite of my mother’s and looked after her so well in her final years, as did all of the very kind staff there.

My parents met when they were both stationed at RAF White Waltham and were married on All Saints Day in 1947.  My mother had always been the youngest officer in any of the ranks that she held.  However, her career in the WAAF ended when she was a Squadron Officer, because she could no longer fit into her uniform due to my imminent arrival.  My brother Nicholas was born two and a half years later and we had a wonderful childhood living in many different places, both in England and abroad.

We spent a short time in Iraq, living in Ramadi, which was then a sleepy little town on the Euphrates.  After that we moved to Cyprus during the height of the EOKA troubles.  Although our school bus was stoned once, my memories of our time there were of idyllic family trips to the fine beaches and beautiful mountain ranges.

My father was Air Attaché in Bucharest during the Cuban missile crisis at the height of the cold war, but Romania is a beautiful country and it was an interesting time to be there.  One of my father’s last postings was as Defence Attaché in Stockholm, which was another wonderful place to live.  For my mother, life as a diplomat’s wife often meant arranging and attending large formal dinner and cocktail parties but fortunately, give her dislike of cooking, someone else was employed to do that!

When we came back to England, my mother joined the WRVS and soon rose to the rank of Assistant District Administrator.  However, when my father retired from the air force and became administrator of Winchester Cathedral she decided that one administrator in the family was probably enough.

Although they had a lovely house in the cathedral close, my parents had always liked the look of Easton, and particularly East View, so when the house came on the market they bought it and moved to the village in 1976.  Easton was a wonderful home for them, and when their lovely garden became too much for them they were delighted to be able to move across the road to 2 Church Lane, rather than leaving the village they loved so much.  Indeed, Mummy has remained very much a part of the village even after she moved to Headbourne Worthy a year or two ago.

My mother’s time in Easton was not without its sorrows.  My brother Nicholas’s death in a fire at his house in London was a dreadful blow to our family and one that was particularly hard for my mother.  Fortunately his wife Amanda escaped unharmed and has been a tower of strength, both to her own family and to ours and particularly to me in these last few weeks.  Also, as you know, the last few years of my father’s life were not easy.  Nevertheless my mother continued to look after him at home, where he wanted to be, for a lot longer than she probably should have done.  This would have been impossible without the amazing support that she received from so many people in the village.

Mummy loved all aspects of life and the people in it.  She delighted in her grandchildren, Louisa and James, and was always interested in, and supportive of them, including attending plays and chilly rugby matches when they were at Wellington College.  She eagerly anticipated visits from her four great grandchildren and it is lovely that all but the smallest are here today.  Although her own side of the family is sparse, she embraced my father’s large family, many of whom are also here today.

My mother loved travelling and visiting interesting places all over the world.  It was my privilege to go on many of these exciting and adventurous trips, which continued into her final year.  In the back of the service sheet and at the party after this service, you will see photos of her enjoying herself on some of these trips.

Until the end of last year, Mummy swam most mornings, even in the depths of winter.  She sang in the Choral Society and church choir for many years and enjoyed going to concerts.  She played bridge several times a week and always looked forward to summer and the boules season.  Many of her bridge and boules friends are here today and I understand that she was an accomplished bridge player.  Her boules performance was more erratic, but there were flashes of brilliance and cries of “Lorna Lies” were heard more often than her opponents would have liked.  Indeed it was suggested, some while ago, that “Lorna Lies” might be a suitable epitaph on her tombstone.

As Mummy’s physical horizons became smaller, her mental ones seemed to get even larger.  She was a news junkie and read the Times every day and insited on watching the televison news each night.  She was informed and interested in current affairs and avidly followed the Brexit vote and its aftermath.  She had so many kind friends and even in her final days, she delighted in their visits and hearing all about their goings on and family happenings.

Many of you have written lovely messages saying how much my mother meant to you and it is tempting to quote from them.  However, we would be here all day if I did.  She was a fantastc friend to so many people and a dearly-loved aunt, great grandmother, grandmother and, of course, the most wonderful mother in the world.  We will all miss her dreadfully but she has set an amazing example to us all that we will try hard, but find difficult to emulate.



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