I did a piece entitled Oh bits from obits which consisted of snippets from funeral tributes which have appeared in The Good Funeral Guide blog, Eulogy Magazine and Mature Times. Oh bits from obits | The Good Funeral Guide Oh bits from obits – eulogy
I have decided to include some obituaries from funerals I have taken and offer families/friends the opportunity of having them here. It is similar to The Other Lives section in The Guardian obituary page.
DAN MERCER, CARMEN ANGIBAULT, LYNNE SANSOM, ANNE WEALTHALL, CHRIS COLE.
The funeral for Dan was held on Thursday 26th April 2012 at Lambeth Crematorium. Dan was born and brought up in Battersea having gone to Latchmere Primary and Sir Walter St. John’s Grammar School in Battersea High Street. He was musical and artistic having taken a foundation course in Art and Design and playing traditional British Folk music palying guitar. he was with a band called the PAINTSTRIPPERS for ten years and they had a regular slot at the Prince of Denmark West Norwood for several years. I certainly remember him from sessions at The Napier, St John’s Hill in the eighties.
He was a great festival goer- Womad and Glastonbury being favourites. He also worked for 10 years in the Box Office of Jongleurs Comedy Club where he made some good friends. I met Dan with Aengus and his friend Alex in The Mess last October. It happened to be the night that I had appeared on 4thought TV and the connection was made with Dan about Humanism and him being a fan of Dawkins. I had been told by Aengus that Dan had cancer. About a week before Dan died he had asked Aengus to get in touch with me and I went to see Dan the following day in Trinity Hospice as he wanted me to take his funeral service. It is always a very emotional time being with someone who is dying.
The tributes from his friends were very touching. It was evident that he was loved and appreciated as a gentle and loyal friend. He had a a black and white border collie called Mollie for 17 years who was buried in his garden. My ‘Oh bit from his obit’ is that his cats were called Shroedinger, Benjamin Von Heisenberg and Kylie Lavoisier- all named after scientists.
I conducted the funeral for Carmen Angibault on Thursday 3rd November 2011 at North East Surrey Crematorium. Carmen,whom I knew for many years, was a member of Battersea Labour Party , The Battersea Society, etc. I was contacted by her god daughter Luise who spoke fondly of Carmen at the ceremony as well as Tony Tuck who is chair of The Battersea Society and the Wandsworth Pensioners Forum .
Here is Carmen’s story written by Luise.
Angela Carmen Valerino was born in Malaga, Spain, on 10th August 1926. Her mother was Spanish, her father Gibraltarian. She was the oldest of 3 and had two bothers Freddie and Steven. During the Civil War in Spain the family moved to Gibraltar to escape the fascist regime.
During the war, women and children were evacuated from Gibraltar. Carmen was initially sent to North Africa, she was only ten, however when the French surrendered she was then evacuated to London. Carmen’s father was granted compassionate leave from his work in Gibraltar to join his family in London. The Valerinos were later evacuated to the north of Ireland and once the war was over they went back to Gibraltar where the family settled. However, Carmen had fallen in love with London and so, not so many years later, at the age of 16 years of age, she took the brave step of leaving her family and Gibraltar and settling in Battersea.
It was during the troublesome years of war that Carmen realised her penchant and passion for radial Socialism.
Carmen had trained as a nurse during the final years of the war and worked hard as a nurse in London. She also carried out other menial work for extra, albeit minimal, money. During this time she met Lucien Ovide Georges Angbault, who was a waiter in a hotel, and they fell in love.
In 1967 Carmen and Lucien married. They enjoyed a passionate relationship for many years, however, finally their political differences would prove too vast to rectify and, after 20 so years of marriage, they divorced. The fact is Carmen walked the streets for days when she walked out on her husband. She would rather have done that than to have gone against her beliefs. Nevertheless, Carmen continued to wear her wedding band and honoured her husband’s memory when he died years later. North East Surrey Crematorium is where Carmen’s Lucien was cremated and his ashes laid, hence her choice, and her wishes are to have some of her ashes scattered on his grave.
About 40 years ago Henry Strapp met Carmen, while she was married to Lucien. Henry used to deliver the Workers Press around Battersea and he and Carmen formed a special bond based on Politics and setting the “World to Rights” – another one of Carmen’s favourite pastimes. As Lucien objected to her passionate Socialism, Henry would secretly deliver the paper to Carmen so her husband wouldn’t find out.
In May 1980 Henry (or Hendry as Carmen used to call him) and his wife Joanie had a daughter called Luise . As parents, they made a personal decision to ask Carmen to be Luise’s Godmother for a few reasons. Firstly as she had no immediate family of her own, she used to look out for Henry’s Italian mother Carrie, plus Henry believed that she would be the perfect role model for his daughter. And he was right. The fact was that Carmen effectively became Luise’s Grandmother, as Luise’s grandparents all had died when she was very young. Carmen however wasn’t any normal “Grandmother” type figure – she was hip and happening, she was fun and free spirited, she was full of stories and knowledge and Luise was proud to introduce her to all her close friends.
Carmen lived her life to the full. She dedicated time and passion to the Labour Party. She wrote plays, articles and poems under the name of Carmen Cortes and she was never without a book. As her dear friend Lourdes said of Carmen “she always had to have a book. Despite how many she had stacked up at home, she had to have more”. And she adored chess. She would often have 2 or 3 games at once on the go – one on the computer, the others on boards in her flat. She would be particularly chuffed when she beat the computer, which happened quite often too.
Carmen loved to dance and to sing and she embraced life and all it’s qualities. Many of us remember her at social functions like the Battersea Society events that she often attended with Maria.
Her life was not without troubled times but she brushed all those times to one side and did not let anything stop her from going where she wanted to go or getting to where she wanted to be. She was a loyal friend, she was selfless and kind but she was strong and she didn’t suffer fools gladly as Henry commented of her.
6 years ago, Carmen’s brothers Freddie and Steven tracked Carmen down via a family friend. They had not seen their big sister since she left Gibraltar all those years ago. Carmen was very private about her life and upbringing. Carmen always spoke fondly of her “baby” brothers but it wasn’t until a few years ago that they became very close again. Freddie came over for Carmen’s 80th birthday in 2006 and again for his 70th a few years after. He was welcomed by Carmen and all her wonderful friends and became part of Carmen’s Battersea family. Unfortunately they can’t be here today but they send their love and wishes and just want to say “Angela, Rest in Peace”. They enjoyed the years they spent with you.
Carmen was a “Utopian socialist”, as Henry referred to her. She was a trade unionist and she contributed much to the struggle for human rights through her work with Amnesty. Carmen adored Battersea. She was a passionate feminist and Labour party afficionada. Carmen did not look back on the troubled times that she’d experienced along the way, but instead reflected on all the happy memories and all the special people and stories she had acquired along the way.
Carmen wrote an article in which she wrote: I have three passions in life. They are:
One; Reading. Because if able to read, learning is nearly always possible.
Two; listening to music.
Three; sharing a meal with friends and talking and listening.
I think that says it all. RIP Carmen. The world is a better place for having had you in it.
This is from Sarah Rackham who runs the Katherine Low Settlement. Carmen was an enthusiastic member of the Gold and Silver Players Drama Group at KLS. As many of you know she was a great friend of Alice Taylors and they made a formidable team of radical activists. The Battersea Singers had a song entitled ‘Born and bred in Battersea ‘ and Carmen had re written it for Alice and used to get the older members singing it several times.
Sarah mentions her amazing sense of injustice her involvement with the older people’s Battersea Park School project with prisoners entitled ‘safe ground , common ground’.
Carmen was much loved by her drama group and the members of the contact club.
Here is an anecdote from Penny- Only a few years ago, I was asked to look after a Visiting Academic at Royal Holloway College, who was a shy but very handsome young Italian, studying modern British politics. Wondering how to amuse him, I invited him to a social event at the Tucks. I need not have worried. I introduced him to Carmen, who announced loudly: ‘Oh but you’re absolutely gorgeous’ – appealing equally loudly to me to confirm that she was right. I was bound to admit that she was. Within moments, he was sitting next to her on the sofa, where he remained for the rest of the evening. They were gently cuddling and talking in a rapid cross-fire of Italian and Spanish. At the end of the evening, as we took him home, he said in a dazed tone: ‘I had no idea that local politics in Battersea were so … fascinating’.
Penny refers to her friendship with Alice and how the two of them could produce together ‘a loud, lengthy and lascivious cackle like no other’.
Henry Strapp said of her “She gets under your skin”.
We all returned to La Movida for delicious tapas buffet and were joined by some members of the Gold and Silver Drama group.
Lynne Ann Sansome
8th March 1952- 30th October 2012 .
Lynne was kind, generous, smiling, loving, sophisticated, highly intelligent, thoughtful and wise. She was very forgiving and never bore a grudge. She was very elegant and had a unique dress sense. Particularly a love of sequins and anything sparkly, as long as it came from a charity shop.
Lynne was abundantly talented musically, totally dependable. She cooked a wicked Sunday roast on a Wednesday.
She was opinionated, a good listener who gave sound advice. She was a patient and encouraging tutor.
Twelve years ago she said she would never do music again, but once she joined Sound Minds, she loved playing in the “ Bluesology” band and a jazz band. She also ran a jam session every week where she played; drums, bass, guitar, flute, keyboards, violin, cello, double bass, sitar and she could sing. She wrote music and lyrics and recently learnt cubase. Lynne attended Sound Minds for the last six years which completely revolutionised her life. That’s where she met Wayne, and they were very much in love. They were together 24/7 for the last two years and she found true happiness.
She has read every Georgette Heyer novel ever written, at least 20 times, and she loved her 3D TV. She loved the ballet and classical literature. Her favourite videos were Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility and she would get you round to watch them at every opportunity.
Sunday’s she spent ringing her friends and catching up. Even though her mobility was limited, she stayed in touch with everybody this way. She loved her friends and was happiest when she was with them.
She would tell you the same story four times, and then for good measure, would tell you again, twice more.
She was very well travelled, as could be seen in the eastern influences of her bits and pieces in her flat and she loved a good party.
The funeral service held in Putney Vale Crematorium on Monday 18th November 2012. As we entered the chapel there was a CD of Lynne singing and playing Kite with a broken string and during the service there was one of her singing and playing Peace Anthem which was written and composed by her. Wayne performed his own song The Ring as part of his tribute to Lynne, Steve Aitken played a guitar piece and there were three readings one of which was one of Wayne’s poems read by her friend Isabel.
Anne Wealthall 1919-2013
Eulogy by her son Stephen.
Mum left me the finest legacies that anyone could wish.
Firstly, before I started school, she taught me to read and then took me to the library regularly until I was nine or so, and could go on my own. The most important part of my whole education was our weekly walks to the Deptford library where she showed her understanding of learning by letting me choose what books I wanted. That unpriceable inheritance has been passed on to my children Kathryn, Rosumund, Elinor and Edmund and now to our grandchildren.
Secondly she showed me, whatever your background and education you could do anything you wanted, whether it be painting a kitchen, managing a dress shop, making shirts, welding Spitfires together, being forewoman of BAC’s rocket paint shop or administrating a dance hall/bingo empire.
Thirdly she gave me my love of flowers and plants and, despite our straightened circumstances (I still like being in candlelight, from the times when we didn’t have a shilling for the electric meter), would scrape together a few shillings so that we could go to the oil shop(a sort of hardware shop), to buy seeds of Sweet Williams, Phlox and Pansies.
Mum’s start in the slums of Reculver, was out of Dickens. One of eight in a family of Dockers, she brought up younger siblings after her mother’s death, when they were ignored by a spiteful stepmother. As a result she got very little formal schooling. Her father was still uncertain of the spelling of the family surname when he died.
As a very young wartime woman, she survived being bombed out of three different houses, and the worst of the blitz, before being directed to war work, welding planes at the Ford factory in Doncaster. When, like many wartime marriages, hers failed, she put her heart and soul into raising Pat and me on her own. When she started work when I went to school, she would try any job as long as she could get home to look after us.
Her ability to tackle anything persisted into her 70’s and 80’s and she would gaily arrange a holiday to the Mediterranean or a visit to us in New Zealand, despite a hip problem, without bothering anybody. After a day trip to Eastbourne she decided to up-sticks and move there, because it seemed a nice place.
Never one to suffer fools or pretenders gladly, Mum would express her opinion in no uncertain terms to anyone from a dustman to an MP. I think it unlikely that she and Margaret Thatcher are in the same place but, wherever they are, I pity Margaret Thatcher if Mum gets to tell her a few home truths.
Mum’s generation of women did as much for Britain, and therefore all of us, as the servicemen on the Front Lines who we regularly commemorate. The women, like Mum, who kept the country going, raised families without menfolk and eked out through post-war rationing were the unsung heroes and gave a moral and caring character to society which is now almost lost.
Mum, we salute, honour and thank you for your love, care and honesty, we will not see your like again.
CHRISTOPHER COLE known as CHRIS
FUNERAL on Wednesday 13th November 2013 at West N0rwood Crematorium.
Chris was a resident of Thames Reach Hostels. Alison wrote this eulogy. Her daughter-in-law Rosina sang to her own guitar accompaniment her wonderful rendition of Somewhere over the Rainbow which segued into What a wonderful world and back. It was beguiling. Peter, who had known Chris when he stayed at Graham House, also shared his memories of Chris
Chris came to live with us at the Robertson St Project early in 2009. He had previously been staying in Graham House at Vauxhall and he adapted and settled well in his new surroundings. Up until 2007 Chris had led a full and interesting life. He worked for many years at a delicatessen in North London and had a comprehensive knowledge of cooked meats and cheeses. He told me he really enjoyed his work especially making sandwiches for the lunch time customers from surrounding offices. He said he never had many friends but liked to chat to his customers. On a particularly lucid day Chris recalled the day his job ended. His boss had been Italian, and one day he just disappeared back to Italy without a word to anybody. Chris reckoned there had been something dodgy going on and with a mischievous smile suggested the possibility of tax evasion. He always told us he was very sad to lose that job, that the delicatessen was a wonderful place to work. Chris had a passion for languages and taught himself to speak German from Linguaphone tapes. He was an avid reader and enjoyed listening to music of all kinds. Whilst at Graham House, Chris had worked in the kitchen and fulfilled his role as a volunteer kitchen porter with enthusiasm and efficiency. On good days at Robertson St Chris would help with washing up and cleaning the dining room. He said it was good to be useful. He always wanted to give something back.
Chris was very interested in the world and whenever a staff member went on holiday, he would always request they send him a postcard. Chris adored receiving the post cards in the mail. He would pin up the cards on the wall of his room in a most picturesque collage. Truth be told, Chris’s room was a work of art. He would spend hours arranging his belongings to present them in the most attractive way. His books were neatly arranged in descending height and he would collect anything he found beautiful and display it in the most creative way.
I recall the day Chris remembered a phone number. He could not remember whose number it was but was keen to ring and find out. Staff helped Chris to make the call. A man answered the phone and Chris spoke to him. It turned out he was a friend of Chris’s from twenty years ago. He was very surprised to hear Chris’s voice but arranged to come to the hostel to visit. The next day Chris’s friend arrived. Whether it was because his friend’s looks had changed, or his memory was particularly bad on that day I don’t know, but sadly Chris did not recognise his friend and refused to speak to him. Chris’s friend told me that Chris had lodged with him and his mother for ten years in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He described the good times they had together but was sad that Chris did not remember him. Chris recalled having a sister, however he had not seen her since they were young and had no wish to try and find her.
Unfortunately in 2007 Chris was involved in a serious accident when he was hit by a motorbike. He sustained a devastating brain injury that would leave him reliant on others. His memory was greatly affected and much of his past was forgotten in the years that followed. He was also subject to life threatening epileptic seizures which would leave him weak and confused. Despite his problems Chris remained a happy and content man. He loved to chat to the hostel staff and still enjoyed his music. At times Chris was subjected to bullying because of his sexuality and sometimes disinhibited behaviour. After an incident Chris would never want to take the matter further. He was so kind and unassuming, not wanting to get others into trouble or cause a nuisance. He was also very gracious and could not thank staff enough for the help and support they gave to him. Chris invented names for the staff he liked the most. I became Auntie Joan or Mein Liebchen (my darling). He was at times the most charming of men. He enjoyed reading the Sunday Times which staff would purchase for him every week. I remember fondly those Sunday afternoons sitting with Chris chatting about the news and putting the world to rights. His intelligence and sense of humour endured despite his problems. Chris was not able to go out on his own as he would immediately get lost. Once he left the hostel without staff noticing and wandered quite a distance. As soon as we realised he was missing we contacted the police and reported him missing. It was a very anxious 48 hours, the weather was awful and we feared the worst. He was found by the police wandering near to Wandsworth Prison, and returned to us cold, frightened and confused. It was heartbreaking to see, however after a night’s sleep and some TLC he was soon back to his old self.
For the last two years of his life Chris was waiting to move to a more specialised placement. Staff worked tirelessly to enable him to get the care he needed and deserved, but financial restraints in the NHS and social services and a reticence to fund him, delayed his move too long. Our worst nightmare, and the event we had warned could happen, did happen. Chris passed away in the night due to repeated seizures and unable to summon help. In the end Chris was failed by the services he was forced to rely on.
It is my true hope that he did not suffer in those final moments. If anybody deserved an easy passing, it was Chris. He was a gentleman in all respects of the word.
Safe travels my dear, all our blessings and love go with you.
Into the freedom of wind and sunshine
We let you go
Into the dance of the stars and the planets
We let you go
Into the wind’s breath and the hands of the star maker
We let you go
We love you, we miss you, we want you to be happy
Go safely, go dancing, go running home.