During the Coronavirus pandemic – when attendance at funerals is limited to only a few people – we are publishing on our website the obituaries of members who have died.
Barbara Hitchon 1926-2020
Tribute given by Rev. David Stretton at Barbara’s funeral service on 28 May 2020
Part of what we’re doing here today is honouring and celebrating Barbara’s life – all that she did, and all that she meant to us. Barbara lived for 94 years – it’s impossible to tell her story in just a few words. So I’m going to share a little of her history, a little of what she was like, and then a few anecdotes that you’ve prepared. Much of the information that I’ll share is from the booklet that you’ve all read which was prepared for Barbara’s surprise 90th birthday party.
Barbara was born at Hey House Farm, Downham on May 3rd 1926. She was the youngest of nine children. Her parents were Ernest and Edith Clark.
The family moved to a larger farm in Sawley in 1937 which Barbara’s father farmed it until 1947 when the four youngest boys took over and eventually bought it.
Barbara left school at fourteen, worked at home for a while and then got a job at a pharmaceutical place in the village. The firm had moved from Liverpool to escape the bombing. It was only a small company employing about a dozen people and she worked there for several years.
In 1942 she was a bridesmaid for Gertrude, her best friend. It was here that she met her future husband John who was best man to Gertrude’s groom.
They courted for 4½ years and married on 10th February 1947. This was the winter with all the snow – so much snow in fact that they were lucky to get to the church, but a lot of the guests didn’t. John had to travel from Gargrave by train, his mother and two sisters with him, but another sister and his dad were unable to go.
Barbara and John should have honeymooned in Wales, but the snow plus John’s commitments in the RAF meant that they stayed at the Spread Eagle in Sawley and the next day caught a bus to Blackburn, had lunch and then went to the cinema.
Barbara and John had four children: Eileen, Marjory, John and Sarah spread over 18 years.
Early on in their marriage, John was posted to Egypt and Barbara followed him there by boat taking Eileen who was only one at the time. And it was in Egypt that Marjory was born.
They returned to England 1950 and managed to get a house in Gargrave – with John stationed near Blackpool and coming home most weekends.
He left the RAF in 1953 – and became a lorry driver for a quarry – whilst Barbara worked as a cleaner.
In 1968 the family moved to Skipton. Barbara worked as a home help and as a Littlewoods Pools collector.
John’s sight deteriorated as he got older and he retired early.
He and Barbara then enjoyed many holidays by coach – usually two a year in this country – but with special ones to: Austria and Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany.
John died August 1993 and Barbara remained in Skipton for many years.
She eventually moved to Arnside in 2006, staying with Eileen for a few months before getting fixed up with a flat at Millom Court.
She was very happy at Millom Court and made many friends there, but eventually had to move to Cove House in Silverdale at the very end of 2017 and then to Hillcroft in Carnforth in February this year.
So, if that’s a kind of potted history of Barbara’s life – here are some memories that you’ve collected together that give us some insight into what kind of person she was:
The abiding memory so many people have told me (Eileen) are Mum’s lovely smile, her chuckle and her great sense of humour.
As a child, Marjory remembers getting excited each weekend, wondering who would come to visit us (we had no phone) and marvelling at how Mum could rustle up a meal for them when we had so little. She also remembers having to go to the allotment at the back of our garden in Gargrave, to pick the frosty Brussels sprouts for dinner.
Eileen remembers how organised Mum was, having pots for gas and electric, us girls and other household expenses. She divided the money Dad gave her each Friday and if we needed new shoes then she would borrow from other pots if she hadn’t enough and then pay it back each week. She was also great at adding up in her head, and when Eileen used to take her to Morrison’s after she moved to Arnside, she would roughly tot up her spending as she went round and was always close to her final bill. When she first moved to Arnside in 2006, we did a walk to Gaping Ghyll, and half way up some rocks she said she couldn’t go any further. However, when she looked back, she decided going on was the better option. At 80 she did much better than me as I was waiting for a hip replacement!!!
Sarah remembers going for tea every week after Dad died, and they would play Scrabble. Mum was a competitive player.
Andrew, David and James always used to love coming up to Skipton to stay at Christmas or in the summer, plus Grandma’s baking and playing cards and dominoes.
Geoff and Peter remember the lovely shortbread and chocolate topped crunchy squares she always made when we visited at Skipton. They also remember the games and learning to play “Stop the Bus” (also known as “Poppa Wally”) and “Gym Rummy.” She would also tell them a new joke she had heard. On a visit to Lightwater Valley, Peter wanted to go on the pirate ship and Grandma offered (as no one else would). She said she dared not scream in case she lost her teeth!!
John William says that Grandma’s beaming smile always cheered him up.
Victoria and Rebecca loved Grandma to come and see their dancing shows.
The Greenhead girls remember the annual day trips to the seaside with our family and to see the Blackpool illuminations. Helen remembers staying with us when her mum Auntie Rose, was ill, and then Mum stepping in to help when her Dad, Uncle Gordon, was rushed into hospital. She was kind but firm when Auntie Rose pushed the boundaries. Helen had many happy phone chats with Mum.
One of Eileen’s primary school friends remembers Mum’s wonderful baking and mouth-watering mince pies.
Many people in Arnside remember Barbara’s lovely smile and having a chat with her when she was sat on the seat near the field or on the Catholic Church wall on her regular walk, with a walking aid, after she broke her hip in 2015. So many have said they have fond memories of her and that she will be missed.
Paul Ratcliffe 1924-2020
Paul died on 20 April 2020 and because of the Covid-19 restrictions many people who would have attended his funeral service were unable to do so. We therefore share the tribute from the funeral service with you now:
Paul lived almost 96 years – that’s a long time, a lot of living. And his three daughters Jane, Linda and Helen have given me a lot of material to work with so I hope that these few words do justice to Paul the man, the husband, the brother, the dad, grandad and great-grandad.
Paul was born on 6 June 1924 in Shropshire – his dad was a toolmaker and mum a housewife. There were four children. Paul had two older sisters Gwennie and Rachel, and a younger brother Derrick. Both Gwennie and Rachel have passed away, but Derrick is still with us, living in Michigan in America.
Paul ran off to join the army at the start of World War 2 – he was only 15 and pretended that he was a year older so that they’d let him in. He was first with the Light Infantry before moving to the Royal Engineers and 4th Parachute Squadron. He served in many countries over the course of the war, was one of the few who survived Arnhem, and ended up after the war in Palestine being mentioned in dispatches in 1949 for gallant and distinguished service. The best part of ten years spent in the army meant that he had a great store of stories and he never tired of sharing his adventures, remembering names and places as if it were only yesterday and often adding just a touch of humour to what were often quite distressing situations.
Paul met Edith whilst waiting for a connection at Doncaster Railway station and they were married on 20 June 1953 at St Mary’s Church, Cottingham.
They bought a grocery shop together in Pateley Bridge in the Yorkshire Dales. Jane was born soon after, in 1954. Many a tale has been told about the delivery van which Paul took out in all kinds of weather conditions to get food and supplies to outlying farms. Although it did let them down on the day of Jane’s christening and Paul and Edith always remembered running down the hill pushing Jane in her pram to get her to the church in time!
A while later Paul and Edith moved to Hull to be closer to Edith’s parents and it was there that both Linda and Helen were born. They had another shop, this time called “Electricaids”; it sold a mixture of electrical goods and toys which Edith, Jane and Linda all helped in at various times.
It was during this time that Paul built an aviary and kept lots of canaries and finches, something his father had done before him and also took to growing tomatoes and prize chrysanthemums.
In July 1971 there was a complete change of direction for the family. They went for a fortnight’s holiday to Somerset and ended up buying a bungalow and moving there a few weeks later! The house had been empty for years and Paul spent many hours restoring it, balancing his time between this and his new career as a groundsman and gardener.
The family really settled here, had many happy times, made many friends both in the village and at the local Methodist Church in Watchet.
There were also lots of holidays, usually camping, to Norfolk, Cornwall, Wales, and of course Somerset. Paul was very protective of his girls and when they were old enough to sleep in a separate tent then he would sleep with a piece of string tied around his toe so that if anything was wrong in the night then they just had to pull it to wake him up!
Paul and Edith moved up to Cumbria in 2007 to be nearer to Ian and Helen and they loved being able to see more of them, and the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They also started to come to Arnside Methodist Church which is of course how I got to know them both.
Latterly, Edith developed dementia and eventually had to move to Westmorland Court. Paul remained devoted to her and visited her every day. She died in 2016. Not long afterwards Paul had to give up driving and wasn’t able to get to church every week, but George and Doreen were regular visitors to keep him in touch with things.
He managed to stay independent and remain in his bungalow in Heversham with help from Helen and Ian and lots of virtual support via telephone and Internet from the rest of the family.
Paul took great delight in his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren and loved playing chess, Connect 4, and draughts with them when they came to visit.
He was always busy with something or other – a jigsaw, watercolour painting, online chess, learning new things at the computer and reading. He’d read both Tolstoy and Chekov in the last twelve months. His last book to read was Treasure Island, managing to listen to the last few pages before going into hospital.
Paul always loved and took great pride in his own garden and also enjoyed getting photos from Jane and Linda with pictures of their gardens and giving them tips and advice. Every year he always grew far more tomatoes than we knew what to do with! Helen became an expert at making chutney.
Despite having left school at 14 he was remarkably intelligent and often knew the answers to really difficult questions on Mastermind and Eggheads – even when the contestants did not.
Paul was a thoughtful and caring person. He always made personalised birthday and Christmas cards for all his relatives and this is something many people have mentioned in their messages of condolence.
I’ll remember him for his smile always welcoming and friendly.
So a good life, a long life, a life well-lived. We are thankful for all that Paul has been to us, and we pray that he will rest in peace.