Looking back: Emma Margaret Belak

Emma Margaret Belak (from St Mary’s Newsletter, Nov 2006)

Know your PCC: Emma Margaret Belak (from St Mary’s Newsletter, Nov 2006)

I was born in Windsor and we lived in a village called Binfield.   I
have an older sister, 14 month older, called Mirabel who is a Dress
Agent now, one younger brother who is 6 years younger and now a Senior
Partner of a Stock Brokers, (he has three children) and another sister
ten years younger who has three children as well. We had a stream of
nannies and a lovely childhood protected from the outside world till I
was 17.   I remember we were made to go to Sunday School which was more
of a chore than enjoyment, but my loving Grandmother read to us lovely
Bible stories.
     We went to Singapore and Malaya between the ages of 9 and 10 where
I learned nothing at the half-day army school – I got green hair from
swimming and won competitions, – but it was still at that time when
girls’ education didn’t matter.
     My mother started up the Church choir on the Army Camp (we had one
of those big ‘Tenko’ style white houses bang opposite Changi Jail) even
though she could not hear a note; this is when I started to enjoy
singing.  (But more than quite a few notes do not quite make it, so if
you hear a ‘noise’ in Church that’s me!) .  I remember hearing the
reason my Father had to go to Borneo was to stop the Head Hunters!
     I bought my first sewing machine from Changi Village, a Standard
copy of the Singer.
     When we came back I went to a marvellous boarding school where I
made masses of friends and we all still are friends.   It was here I got
confirmed and the Vicar who gave us classes must have been inspiring as
it was from this point that I thought of the importance of
Christianity.   We had to make our white Dresses for the Confirmation
and afterwards I dyed mine green.
     When I was 17-18 I went to a finishing school for young ladies,
which did not have much effect on me except to be allowed to go to
parties in London as I ‘Came Out’, I was a Debutante, which I did not
really appreciate at the time.   Then I went to London (where everyone
went!).  My father was the Commanding Officer of the Household Calvary
at Knightsbridge Barracks so we had a flat there, and my sister and I
had our horses there for a few months which was fun and I found out you
are not allowed to gallop, only canter in Hyde Park.   I did not have a
key to the side door after 12 midnight (this was before the IRA) so I
had to climb over in my dress or be escorted by the Troopers at the main
entrance.   Sadly it was then that my Mother announced that she was
going to leave my Father which stunned me and I lost the plot a bit, and
meandered through life doing Interior design jobs, all a bit aimless,
till I was 22.   At about this time my mother eventually moved to
Battersea and with the help of a friend of mine, bought a house in
Shuttleworth Road and I still remember her talking about finding St
Mary’s and we would  go there and I remember her saying ‘Now I think
that lady there is the Vicar’s wife’ – this was Elsie Morris.   They
became close friends.   Not having much of an aim a friend of mine and
myself worked at night as well as our day jobs and we got the fare to go
to visit a friend of ours who was in Brazil/Rio.   So off I went and
stayed for six months where my eyes were opened to the poverty there and
to the existence of other cultures.   I went to the Anglican Church in
Botafogo which I really enjoyed and as well I met my first husband
Orlando, who in turn became the father of my three lovely children.  (We
had our marriage blessed  at St Mary’s and all three children were
Christened there).
     When Freddy (who is 20 now) was born then my mind grew up and
changed (and I have Ella 16 and Charlotte 13).  John Morris used to come
and visit me every week, my dog Gorbachev used to lick his ears.   I
lived on Queenstown Road bang next to the trains.   He was wonderful at
visiting and there was an elderly lady who lived nearby who was house
bound who he visited too.   I did find when my babies were tiny it was a
very difficult time;  the anxiety and guilt. Being very lucky I had
found a job when I came back from Brazil working for a German/Swiss
Industrialist called Gunter Sachs who I carried on with for 16 years.
This was only from 9am to 3pm so before I had children I worked evenings
as well at the Chelsea Arts Club.   I was his house keeper and I looked
after his friends when they came to stay which I believe put me in good
stead for the job I have now.   My Father remarried a lovely lady but
had Parkinson’s disease and sadly died ten years ago.   They lived down
near Marlborough.   She died as well, from breast cancer.
     My relationship did not continue since my children’s Father had
moved back to Brazil.   Meanwhile I had moved to Brixton, then lucky for
me the recession 13 years ago meant that I managed to buy near the
Church, where we still live.
     And then I met Radoslav who turned my life around and organised me
and we married seven years ago.   I had breast cancer three years ago to
my terrible shock.  I had this pain under my arm like I had been kicked
and Radoslav said ‘go to the Doctor’ which I did the next morning and my
saving grace was the Royal Marsden Hospital – I feel like it’s a second
home to me – there is a lovely Chapel there that I went to.   Everyone
is like Angels there.   I luckily found a niche in Relocation work which
is being ‘paid’ to help Corporate people move to this country which I
enjoy tremendously and I enjoy the possibility of attending St Mary’s
Church easily.