Godmanchester Cambridgeshire Community Association Online

Doreen Lois Lewis

Our mother – lived during ten decades; Wife, mother of three, Grandmother of 7 and Great-grandmother of 7 and counting . . .

Born in Edinburgh on 14 December 1922 she was a ‘Proud Scot’.  Her father was a bandmaster of the Black Watch who were the most feared of the Scottish fighting regiments.  He was a Douglas - not a Red Douglas, but a Black Douglas.  In the day of the Robert the Bruce assassins of the Clan?

Doreen grew up as a teenager in the 1930’s, a hard decade with the Great Depression, not least than in Scotland.  Then came war, where she joined the Women’s Royal Navy and served with many other Wrens at the naval base in Lossiemouth.  She met our father, a Fleet Air Arm Instructor, teaching landings on aircraft carriers.  She had very quickly decided he was the one, but he was leaving with the squadron for the Far East the next day.  She once told me that at the end of the evening she gave him a kiss that he would never forget, and he came back for her.  They were married in the summer of 1945 at the end of the war.

The 1950’s saw our parents move to Bexley on the border of London and Kent.  It was a harsh decade with real austerity.  I remember that sliced white bread and margarine were the treat of the week.

In 1960’s she joined the Townswomen’s Guild and in a sign of things to come, she soon became Chairwoman of the Bexley branch.  She also became a counsellor in the new Citizens Advice Bureau.

In 1974 my parents moved to Godmanchester - our father nearing retirement from the civil service.  They had always belonged to book clubs and so started the Book Shop.  What can I tell you about the Book Shop of Godmanchester?  We loved it.  Lasting memories of children sitting on the floor or in corners reading.  One evening one of the children was even locked in by mistake and even now, twenty- and thirty-year olds tell me they went there to look at books when they were little.  And which of you remembers the book signings at various venues and the poetry readings in the barn?

1980’s was a good decade.  Our parents had grandchildren - often out on their boat on the Great Ouse - and their dogs - a beautiful Red Setter named Sam, Misha a Gordon Setter and Megan, a rescue Collie from Wood Green to name a few. Mother stayed up all night when Misha produced 13 puppies and was her constant companion for 17 years.

Then in 1992 father had a stroke and she nursed him for the next 12 years.  She also joined the Huntingdon Rotary as the first local business woman to do so and eventually became the first woman President.  She organised many charitable events over the years including open days for her beloved garden and of course horse racing nights in the barn.  Rotary International made her a ‘Paul Harris’ fellow for her work, for which she was very proud.

We want to thank those in the Rotary and other friends who helped our parents during the later years.  They particularly loved the trips in the UK and abroad, and I know these often involved a lot of pushing of them both in wheelchairs.

Father died in 2004.  For many years mother continued her charitable and Rotary activities but gradually her physical health deteriorated, particularly her eyesight.  She only liked watching old musicals and crime dramas on television, but she loved listening to classical music and opera - and reading, of course, in the latter years with a magnifying glass.  Favourite books were detective stories, but in the last ten years, she turned to large print romantic novels.

We have been overwhelmed by messages of condolences received since our mother passed away.  We would like to thank these people, and the many who in recent years had either visited or telephoned our mother.  There are too numerous to mention by name, but I would like to thank certain individuals.

Her good friends Valerie and Wendy who helped with her garden and many times took her out to local garden centres.  One of the last times she went out this summer was with Wendy, husband Roy and daughter Tina, to an open garden.

My Sister, Fanni, who, before she became ill herself, took her to many shows and concerts which she loved.  My Brother-in-law, Martyn, who often sorted out problems in her house.  My Brother-in-law, Gary, who came and read to her every Wednesday evening.  But, most of all, my Sister, Mazzie, who cared for her, every day, year after year, often visiting many times in the day and night.

In January this year, to our surprise, our mother decided to go into the Ferrars Hall Nursing Home.  Again, I would like to thank all the staff of the Home who were so kind and caring with her.

A week before she passed away, we had a party at the Nursing Home with our mother, surrounded by most of her family.  I think she liked best seeing her little Great-grandchildren acting naughtily.  To the end she was a feisty Black Douglas.

Two days ago, our mother would have been 95 - we all really miss her.

Ian Lewis



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