Mary Power one of Lambourn's oldest residents passed away peacefully in her sleep at her home in Northfields, where she lived for 68 years. Her funeral at St Michael and All Saints was attended by her family - 5 children, 21 grand, great and great great grandchildren and her friends on 15th March. Dave and Jenny Power and family would like to thank everyone who attended, all messages and support received and contributors to the Drogheda Memorial Fund, the Irish Turf Club charity. Here is an appreciation of Mary's life prepared by David and Jenny.
Born in Letcombe Regis, the youngest of three children, mum was known as Babe by the rest of her family. She moved in early life to Foxhill, as her father Tom worked in racing.
As a child in the days before NHS and inoculation she suffered from diphtheria and was in hospital for a long period, which kept her away from school. She always said her education was not good due to absence from illness, and she was always concerned about her handwriting, but we thought it was classically stylish.
She always wrote letters particularly to our brother when he was in Canada in the 70's, and every week when David was at University she sent a letter, along with the New Musical Express and a £1 note. She always finished her letter with, sorry for mistakes, but like her life there was very little to apologise for and much to be proud of.
In Foxhill her lifelong love of dancing began when she danced the Charleston outside the Shepherds Rest. Her Mum and Dad moved to 1st Edwards Hill Lambourn where her mum, Aggie, lived until her death in 1971. Mum started work at aged 14 in service in the house next to Lambourn Chemists. She then moved to live in at the County Grand Hotel in Swindon. On her day off she cycled the 15 miles to see her mum. She recalled her daily diet of mash potatoes and bread, punctuated by occasional trips with her workmates to Polly Tea Rooms in Marlborough when her boss took them there.
At this time her elder brother Tom joined the Merchant Navy and travelled the high seas across the world. At the outbreak of WW2 his Royal Navy ship was sunk with all lives lost protecting Allied convoys. He was just 20. He was remembered in Carol Silk's excellent exhibition in the Church last summer. Mum was proud to see this recognition.
Like many families who lost children in her war, it had a profound effect on her Mum and Dad and our Mum badly missed Tom. His sacrifice is commemorated in this church and outside in the remembrance garden. Mum always attended the Armistice service and when she was able ensured a cross was planted in his memory. All her life she had a photo of her brother Tom in uniform, always in view, the only memory of her lost companion.
During the War Years, like many women, she contributed to the war effort by working in a munitions and supply base at Didcot. Here in Indiana Jones fashion she narrowly avoided death. On crossing the rail lines in the shunting yard, the points were charged trapping my mother's foot and threw her into the path of an oncoming train. She recounted the chains hanging from the trucks missing her head by inches as she lay entrapped on the track. She suffered a broken ankle but also a lifelong injury caused by severe bruising and internal bleeding on her leg. Her compensation was a new pair of shoes.
Her next long stay in hospital was some 60 years later when she broke her hip whilst staying with us in Manchester. She insisted on walking when her hip was broken and told the doctors manipulating her leg she felt no pain and was happy to go home. She did, after 3 months recuperation. Her generation had a toughness and resilience to move on despite adversity. She shared this all through her life.
During the War she met and married her first husband and had her first daughter Maureen, followed by Linda and Joey. In 1948 the family moved to 14 Northfields - a new council home where she lived until the end.
When her marriage ended, she was fortunate when working as a barmaid back in the George, she met my Dad, a national hunt jockey from Kildare, the Curragh who had moved like many Irish people to work in Lambourn.
The 1960's saw the birth of her first grandchildren as Maureen and Linda married their lifelong partners. Dad moved from racing to a new career as a contracting electrician to give the family more financial security. Mum found herself surprisingly pregnant at the age of 42 with Jenny.
Our family Doctor George Osmond, in his characteristically breezy and optimistic way said "never mind Mary old thing, the baby will keep you young". Never was his judgement to prove so right as the next 50 years showed.
Life for Mum and Dad in the 60's and 70's was a happier one. Reflecting much of the optimism and hope of the years, I and then my sister were able to go to University, free of charge, helped by our parents fervent belief that education was there to improve our prospects which their generation could not have realised. On her weekly Saturday trips to Newbury for her hairdo my Mum always returned home with a book for me and a comic for Jenny to read. She always baked every Saturday for the families weekly needs, supplemented by my Brother's constant toil in the garden growing vegetables in a friendly competition with the assiduous gardener next door.
Mum and dad were social people. They enjoyed the Red Lion at its height of sophistication with Bill Chamberlain as its head chef and The Wheel and Sunday night dances at the Catholic Club. They barely missed one and Mum said it was the best floor of all the village halls they danced in all around the local villages over the decades.
Life was a happy and simple one. Christmas shopping at the Universal stores where you could buy anything. The Corona Lorry, the Sunday Ice Cream Van, Frank the mobile grocer on a Friday. Tired of travelling, Dad returned to work with horses in the vets but needing more income Mum worked again, two jobs at once, a cleaner at Stan and Elaine Mellors and a cleaner at Lambourn surgery, cycling every day. She stayed at the surgery until her retirement at 66 when the surgery moved to its present site.
The loss of Dad at the early age of 60 in 1981 was another blow to my Mum. She never remarried as she said no-one could every replace Jimmy.
Mum valued company and conviviality above any material possessions, spending time with her family/friends was a pleasure for her. As long as her family were happy and healthy she was content - saying a prayer for us all every night. She loved music, dancing, sharing memories of special times spend with friends -Joan Bettisom, Dolly and Johny Healy, Bill and Peggy Chamberlain, Glady Pike, George Bodman. She always welcomed our friends, and as we grew up partners and children. They became her friends too and were so pleased we shared Mary or as some fondly called her `Little Mum'. Her weekly coffee morning with Val Osmond, Joan Pike and Nora Willoughby was a treasured time, right up to her passing, sharing memories and news of the village.
Of course daily visits from her dear and loyal friend, Bill Chamberlain, was so appreciated. She always looked forward to their cup of tea and slice of cake. If there was a definition of a good neighbour then it is Bill - and we thank you.
Mum liked to cycle, walk up the street as long as she was able, visiting the library, the market and stopping for a chat. In later years a ride in her `chariot' as she called it was appreciated.
She had great and detailed memories of the village and its colourful cast of characters, always narrated in her individual style.
We have received many cards and messages which have been of great comfort - the words special, loyal, kind, funny and lovely have been used to describe her.
We will remember her as strong, resilient, loving and kind, forever optimistic and hopeful. As a person she didn't travel a great distance but her personality reached a long way and had an impact on many people beyond Lambourn. Her natural humility was enhanced by her quick humour and wisdom and a host of incisive sayings and stories.
`If you have your health, you are a millionaire'
We feel so blessed that our mum lived such a happy, health and long life. She also moved with the times but had a sense of history.
She was our lovely mum, our dear friend. We will miss her, as you will, and think of her every day with a smile and so much love.
David and Jenny