This page is devoted to past members, friends or former members of this church. Tributes or eulogies may be posted here, at the discretion of The Rector.
Patricia Evans was a long time member of St George’s church, who died on the 2nd March 2022 – here is her eulogy delivered by her daughter Catherine.
Mum was born on the 25th December 1929, Christmas day, In Gateshead Newcastle,
She had many fond memories of her childhood especially of her time spent by the sea at St Abbs head. She also remembered days out in Corbridge picnicking by the river.
She had strong memories of a warm hand in her father’s pocket and a love of rock pooling
She told wonderful tales of family ancestry, of strong empowered women and courageous and talented men and women; a talented pianist, a poker player with a photographic memory, an independent woman travelling and teaching English across continents. These stories indeed shaped and inspired us, though I’m not so good at playing cards or remembering facts though there were many family card games and we are quite good as a family at rummy.
Mum trained and qualified as a physiotherapist working with the Newcastle miners which included teaching them Russian dancing as it was vital for strengthening their knees to survive the stresses of working underground.
She moved to Edinburgh working in one of the local hospitals.
She was a very Keen Scottish country dancer and progressed to be a member of the Edinburgh competition team. Many of the nurses in the hospital were also dancers and dance practices on the wards were not uncommon.
She loved her dancing and told tales of many suitors who took her to highland balls across Scotland and out to the Islands, tales of driving in great cars and the magic of winter scenery and mysterious and magical white hares.
As someone recently said in sharing their thoughts of mum, she was a very glamorous lady.
She met our father Stuart in Edinburgh where a military band was playing the Elizabethan Serenade.
She would watch him play rugby , till he broke a rib
They were married on the 10th May 1958 .
Dad was a safety engineer, and his work took them south to Oakley near Bedford. Mum worked in Bedford as a physio with children with special needs.
Oakley was a happy house where all three of us girls enjoyed the freedom of a childhood spent in the countryside with plenty of riverside walks.
Mum and dad loved nothing better than a good coffee shop and a slice of cake a tradition which the whole family are more than happy to uphold. A tradition which we would love you to share after the service.
Our childhood memories of mum are:
Sunday lunches with delicious home-made meringue pies, playing with the cooking dough or licking the icing bowl clean.
her green fingers, a green house full of strange plants gourds and fruit , geraniums, endless cuttings on windowsills and blooms in the summer and in more recent years Orchids
she love of a good detective novel something she continued all her life and would frequently be found with her head in a book.
Her sewing skills and fabulous organisational skills this woman could pack a suitcase with style.
She taught us frugality and living within your means, she and dad lived through the war years and new how to save and mend and make do. I can still here her in our shopping trips ask, yes but do you need it to which the answer is invariably probably not.
She was very supportive to her children’s interests be they music dance education.
On dad’s retirement they moved to Shropshire living first in Stiperstones and then moving down to Pontesbury settling in well and enjoying village life.
Sadly 2015 saw the double tragedy of losing our father and eldest sister. Mum was, as ever, a tower of stoicism and strength
She was a grandmother to 6 children and a great-grandmother to two with a third due in April and a fourth in October
Sadly, her strength started to fail leaving her less and less mobile. She had a real stubborn streak which helped her to keep positive and right to the end she never complained and always managed to find a positive joke with her carers despite her pain.
There is a huge hole in the lives of her family and friends that can never be filled
God bless you mum, may you rest in peace.
And yes we will love and take care of each other as a family
Fiona Fields was a long time member and chorister of this church, who died on 28th February 2022.
This is her eulogy delivered by her nephew, Andrew Cruickshank
I’d like to thank you and welcome you here to remember Fiona.
Before starting I’d like to thank those who helped me assemble some of the memories: those here at St George’s and the choir, Helen Mitchell, and her childhood friend Diane and cousin Patricia.
Fiona was my aunt. My mother’s younger sister.
Fiona was brought up in Elgin in Morayshire.
Some of you may have noticed that she had a bit of a Scottish accent – though probably a bit more from Edinburgh than Moray.
Fiona’s mother Annabella was a bookkeeper who worked in hotels and was working at the Gairloch Hotel on the remote north west of Scotland. That is where she met Fiona’s father – Murdo MacLean who came from Gairloch.
Fiona was the youngest of three – the oldest was her brother Alasdair, then her sister Catherine and then a four year gap to Fiona who was very much the youngest and born in 1944 as the Second World War began to reach its Bedfordfinal phase.
The family lived in a terraced cottage in the west of Elgin. Fiona attended the West End primary school not far away with Diane who became a lifelong friend. Her teachers still remembered her 20 years later when I attended the same school briefly for two months at the end of 1969.
At about the age of nine Fiona’s father died.
Her mother setup and ran a sub post office out of the front of the house. Customers would walk in through the front door of the house and turn right into the post office which was opposite the living room on the left. Until a few years ago there was still a red post box built into the wall by the front gate.
Fiona seems to have had some health problems around that time which resulted in poor attendance at school and she had to repeat her final primary year – which would have separated her from some of her friends as they moved on before her to Elgin Academy.
With her father being from Gairloch there was a close association with the village. She and her sister would travel to Achnasheen by train and then catch a bus for the final scenic part of the journey past Loch Maree. Their aunt and uncle had a cottage above the beach at Strath.
The Gairloch side of the family were Free Church of Scotland – the so-called ’Wee Frees’ and their convention was that Sunday was very strictly observed with the children not allowed to play but they were allowed to read.
Fiona’s older brother Alasdair left to join the RAF. Her sister Catherine married at 19 and also moved away. The age gaps meant that by the age of 15 Fiona would have been left with just her and her mother in the household.
At 17 Fiona left school – she spent several months working at the Aberlour orphanage. This was hard work given the number of children – there were apparently an awful lot of shoes to be cleaned – there was also a baby to feed round the clock.
After Aberlour she left home and moved to Edinburgh to start training as a nurse.
She returned north and was in Inverness for a while and was briefly engaged before breaking off.
Most of the 1960s were spent in Edinburgh. Her childhood friend Diane had moved there and the two remained very close. Fiona progressed to the level of sister and in the early 70s made the decision to join the Queen Alexandra Nursing Corps.
This job came with perks. As a youngster I was very taken by the gas mask that she carried when she came back on leave. Others may have noted that the nurses on the Corps were provided with evening dresses designed by the royal designer Norman Hartnell.
She spent time in London at Blackheath and in Germany. She has said on a number of occasions that she liked Blackheath.
This was the period where Fiona met Roland Fields – a Major in the REME. My recollection is that they married in 1973 with a blessing at Fiona’s family church in Elgin: Holy Trinity.
And this is where Shropshire starts to become important in her story.
Roland was posted to Shrewsbury and they set up in married quarters before acquiring a house in Pontesbury.
And this is the point almost 50 years ago where it seems that Fiona started the phase of her life that I think most people here would identify with.
She connected with Pontesbury as a community. She joined the local GP surgery as a nurse. She became involved with St Georges and as a helper with Guides. She took in her mother who was now retired and becoming frail.
There was an interlude in the early eighties when she left to live in Edinburgh. Roland’s job had changed and he was supposed to eventually join her there. But her marriage seemed to draw apart over that period and they spent less time together. She had a basement flat near the centre of Edinburgh – basement makes it sound dull but it was bright and airy. She took on senior responsibilities working at night at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
One of the hazards of living in the flat in the city was that on weekend nights there was a lot of passing traffic. On one occasion she had a gentleman worse for wear fall down the steps leading to her front door and she had to patch him up and call an ambulance.
Being in charge of the wards in hospital at night also meant that she had to deal with staff and difficult patients. I think she found this aspect wearing.
So she moved back to Pontesbury with the opportunity to get back to her previous job at the GP practice and rejoin the community. She bought a house just across from the one that she had previously stayed in and moved in with her mother.
Fiona found her place. She spent about half her life here in Pontesbury. She made a personal choice to come back and settle here. It’s clearly the place and community where she felt she belonged and where she had friends.
Singing was a passion. She participated in the choir at St Georges for more than 40 years. I’m told she has sung for eight choirmasters – one of whom had an apparent obsession with commas, one who thought the choir were not ‘crisp’ enough, and one who accused the choir of hiding his music.
Most years she went on a singing retreat weekend – the last one being in 2019 before Covid.
When talking with her I recall she would often mention having recently travelled to sing.
Her confidence had apparently dropped and she had stopped singing solos in recent years. However with some encouragement from the choirmaster Paul, she sang the solo verse of Once in Royal David’s City at the Candlelit Carol Service, which offers a poignant memory for those who sang with her over the years.
She was one of the founders of St George’s ‘Little Dragons’ and participated in helping with childrens’ activity weeks for several years when she was a bit younger. And she had been actively involved with a number of charities including The Macular Society and The Pontesbury Muheza Link.
Fiona always loved books and reading. Her mother’s house still had a large collection of her childhood books long after she left. The library that she has collected and left for us in her current flat is on an even grander scale.
Over the last 30 years the most important person in Fiona’s life has been Dr Ian Bradley.
They spent a lot of time in each other’s company and travelled together on holidays to France, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and around the UK.
On their first trips to France they used a tent. According to Ian on one windy evening they left to find something to eat. They spent longer than anticipated and realised that they had missed the 10PM campsite curfew and that the gates would be locked. The storm had become worse and when they got back to the campsite the gates were fortunately unlocked – but they discovered the storm had flattened their tent. They rescued some items and put a gas cylinder on the flattened tent and found a hotel for the night. Rain persisted for the rest of the holiday. After that Fiona insisted they take a caravan.
For the last 20 years or so when I think of Ian and Fiona travelling it is by motor caravan. When I think of them visiting family in Scotland it is using the motor caravan.
Fiona was close to Ian’s family. She and Ian spent their Christmases with Helen, Peter, and the family – joined by Philip, Anne and family if they were in the country. Ian was close to Fiona’s family with Ian travelling with her for visits and anniversary celebrations and events.
On most Sundays Fiona and Ian would have Sunday dinner with Helen and Peter. One of their lasting memories of Fiona is sitting down together to watch ‘Call the Midwife’ and Fiona would recount stories of her nursing days.
Fiona always seemed to have an even temperament. She was always cheerful. When she had medical issues in the past she seemed to leave them to one side when engaging in conversation.
I think as being so much younger than her brother and sister that she looked up to them as being protective and supportive when she was younger.
That said, even though she regarded my mother as the tougher older sister, when it came to persuading my mother to do something she didn’t want to – such as travel for an anniversary or birthday – it was Fiona who could be relied on to get her to come.
And while Fiona always came across as gentle and with no animosity – it was interesting that when some politicians were mentioned she could become quite fierce. And with her Scottish roots she had the added luxury of two sets of politicians to get fierce about when mentioned.
One comment I had which I think is accurate is one that Helen made :
“People just remember her as a lovely, friendly, cheerful and helpful lady who has been involved in many things, not as a leader, but as the essential “behind the scenes” helper.”
I suspect that the fiercer Fiona that we sometimes glimpsed probably had more presence back when she was a senior nurse and manager on the wards in Edinburgh.
And I also suspect that one of the reasons she returned to Pontesbury all those years ago was to leave some of that behind because she preferred to be more of that person described by Helen and the life she chose gave her that.