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Alison’s eulogy for Rosemary


 I've known Rosemary all my life being her elder daughter, Alison. When I reflect on her life one of the main features has been her love for travelling. She has travelled in a borrowed car to do her driving test despite not being able to see over the steering wheel very well. In the late 1950s she hitch hiked around Europe with her brother and sister. Later she discovered that St Lucia was her favourite place and she learnt to windsurf there and described the volcanoes as looking like profiteroles. She went on lots of holidays and cruises with Jim and visited many towns, cathedrals and countries to sing in choirs as a tenor. She's done a lot of travelling. Rosemary was born on the day that Edward 8th abdicated and as it is said "Things can only get better"!


She grew up in Streatham, South London and during the war was briefly evacuated to Kennington. She went away to Queenswood, a boarding school in Hertfordshire where she enjoyed sports, music and too much ginger cake. Portions were usually meagre but on one occasion there was plenty of ginger cake. She indulged in it and she wasn’t a fan of ginger cake ever since! She made a good impression at school and in a reference for Mum the headmistress described Miss Smith as having “an easy disposition, a quick, alert mind and a good deal of natural charm.”


Having finished school Mum returned to London and studied at Battersea Polytechnic. It was during this time that she was briefly a bus conductress. There was a driver, recently arrived from Ireland, who went down Northumberland Avenue instead of Whitehall possibly the wrong way. All the passengers wished Rosemary good luck as they got off after that. Her brother and sister recount fantastic stories of how they went hitch hiking, first around Scotland and then further afield. Rosemary and her sister Judy went from Calais to Lake Constance. A Scottish boy followed them off the ferry and asked if he might join them. He thought he would have more luck with lifts with a pair of females. This was not always the case, they had to hide him behind grape vines or haystacks and he would pop out when they definitely had a lift. They spent 4 weeks to get to Lake Constance and back and just £10. Rosemary and her then 14 year old brother, Chris hitch-hiked down to Rome in 1957. They made excellent progress all the way to Rome where Chris had his first bath in 2 weeks! They got almost the whole way back to Calais but the lifts ran out just outside Cambrai and they got the train to Lille. Lifts were easier after that.


During her time at Battersea Poly she established friendships with people from around the world. Neil from Sri Lanka, Ariadne from Greece and Steve who had fled Hungary. Later in the 1970s as two families, Steve’s and ours, we loaded up a VW camper van with camping gear and set off across the continental Europe to Hungary. It was quite an experience which included eating carp caught from the Danube, seeing life in a communist state and camping on the shores of beautiful Lake Balaton only to return from a cool and damp Europe to find we had missed three weeks of the UK's most severe drought.


Having graduated Mum briefly did some commercial computing programming – for Metrovic in Trafford Park and then at Ferranti in Portland Place in London working in a team led by Conway Berners-Lee, before moving to Kingston Polytechnic to lecturer in maths. It was there that she met and dated Jim before getting married during the cold winter of 1962. The weather and a couple of road traffic incidents rather curtailed their honeymoon. They didn't make it to St Ives in Cornwall and I have, possibly false images of them returning to the reception before all the guests had left. As Rosemary and Jim planned and prepared for a family she knitted some delicate lacy shawls and snugly blankets and sewed some beautifully smocked night shirts in newborn baby size.


Along came me followed by Claire 20 months later. After getting married Rosemary moved quite a bit going from Newcastle under Lyme in the Potteries, to Maghull, then Ashby and finally she settled in Standish in 1975. Mum had been doing some part time teaching before we got to Standish and it was no different here. Mum would drive around in her little black Austin A35 travelling to different institutions nearby before she settled into a role at what is now called the University of Bolton. She would recount stories of how students from the Middle East, who weren't familiar with having a female teacher, would call her Sir and she had a group of engineering students who she used to refer as her Heavy Metals.


As her daughters both Claire and I benefited from her skills of being able to explain mathematic principles and she would help us too. Once Claire admitted to her maths teacher at Wigan Tech that she had had a little help from Mum with some homework. The teacher said "I hope you're bringing your mum to the exam."


As well as studying for and writing up an MSc in operational research Rosemary pursued several musical avenues including learning to play the trombone, doing several grade examinations on the piano and singing in choirs. When Emma, her eldest grandchild asked what was a highlight in her life Rosemary replied that it was finding her tenor voice and being able to sing in choirs around the world.

All through her life Rosemary showed an interest in languages, computing and the spoken ones. She studied French at school, did exchanges with a French family and in later life studied Spanish, Greek and briefly Arabic. But she also had to learn about and sometimes practise the dialects, accents and colloquialisms of the North West and in particular of Standish.

Once we were visiting her sister in Germany where Judy had settled having left England in the 1960s. There was a family gathering and relatives from America attended. As the celebrations progressed one of them made the comment that Judy, with her BBC accent sounded more British than Mum, who spoke London with a hint of northern.

And finally there was a story that Rosemary sometimes told how just after she and the family had moved Standish she was shopping in the local supermarket. She was struggling to do something and a friendly onlooker said "Do you need a lift?" Well this did cause Mum some confusion and as travelling has always featured in her life her first thoughts were about getting in a car with them!

Alison’s eulogy

for Rosemary

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