I was born in Mitcham, Surrey. I am in the middle of a family of ten children. I had good parents. My father was a master butcher. He owned his own business and prepared meat for specialty occasions. Growing up we lived in Wandsworth and Battersea.
Church was very important to us as a family. We belonged to the Church of England. As children we went to Sunday school regularly. I loved that. I remember that we were given coloured pictures which I put up on the wall in my bedroom.
During the war, we had to move twice, each time because our home was bombed. Most of us were evacuated to Yorkshire. We were there for two years and I loved it. I stayed with people who treated us well. They lived on the edge of town near to the countryside and we had a lot of freedom. Three of my brothers enlisted but they all returned home safe and sound.
When we returned to London my friends laughed at me and said that I talked funny with a Yorkshire accent. However, the time away helped me to make friends more easily. In Yorkshire we did not go to church much, but we went back to going to church when we returned to London.
I left school when I was 15. My first job was in a small factory. I enjoyed doing the paperwork such as letters and that type of thing. I later worked at Sainsbury’s at Stamford Street, Blackfriars on the production line making pork, fruit and other pies. While there I met my husband.
I was married at St. Mary’s Wandsworth Road. My husband was in the army. When he came out of the army he drove an articulated lorry as a delivery man for a medical firm. We had two daughters. I also have a step son. Both of my daughters were christened at St. Mary’s. When they were young, I used to go to a nursery in the crypt of St. Mary’s, with other people from the borough. That is where I met Pauline Dowling. We have been good friends ever since.
Being a mother was fantastic to me. I had good, healthy children. I recognised that as a blessing. I now also have 14 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. I love each one of them.
One of my grandsons is particularly special to me. He has cystic fibrosis, a disease for which there is currently no cure. Although he may not have a long life span, he is a normal, lovely 15 year old child, doing well at school, but living on medication. I pray for him daily. That brings me closer to him.
When my children were older, I worked as a house keeper for two doctors and a judge. I enjoy house work and met many interesting people through my job. The people were nice and I made friends with the families for whom I worked.
I used to see people go for confirmation in the church, but I did not think about getting confirmed myself until about 10 years ago. I spoke to the vicar. Pauline and I started attending the Thursday group led by Leslie Spatt. It was good to read the Bible and have an opportunity to ask questions. Leslie allowed us to question what we read and to learn more about the Bible. We were confirmed at a service in Kew.
Church is still very important to me. I like attending St. Mary’s because it is a friendly church. I can meet people here. I like the peace that I find when I am in church. If I am out, I often go into churches just to be quiet and pray. It is good to be able to bring all my issues to church in prayer. I find that very helpful.
Part of our series on Parishioners lives - Christine Coates