Don Boot – 1934 – 30th December 2023

Daddy’s Eulogy

When Daddy died, we found a gift he left for us ….. it seems appropriate as he was a man of many gifts, amongst them was organisation and knowing what he wanted. His gift was leaving detailed instructions for this service so we didn’t have to worry about it.  You’ll see we have Amazing Grace in the service – he asked us girls to sing it, no doubt reminiscent of our many family sing songs. We are not certain if he was being sentimental or mischievous when he did this. As most of you will know he always had a twinkle in his eye and a sense of mischief. Let’s just say it won’t be like a Family Von Trappe performance from the Sound of Music.

So here we are with the honour and responsibility to do justice to a man who was a force of nature and lived for nearly 90 years. Don, Daddy, Grandpa, Great Grandpa was an intelligent, driven, competitive man, always striving to do his best, hard working and humble, impatient, sometimes tricky, sentimental and loving. As I grew up he became my role model – a lesson in making the most of what you have, hard work, resilience in the face of adversity, enjoying life to its full.

He was born the 3rd child of Mac and Gladys. Mac was a day labourer in Hull docks. A year after he was born, twin brothers arrived, so then there were 5 – Jean, Sheila, Don, David and Dennis. It must have been hard as work was scarce in the 1930s but things became tougher when Gladys died within a year of the twins arriving. Don would have been 2 when he lost his mother. The family managed with various relatives looking after the children while their father had to work, testimony to the family that they never had to go into care. A couple of years later Mac remarried and he and Ivy had 3 more children – Max, Valerie and Avril. So then there were 8.

In 1939 the children were evacuated from Hull – the total number of evacuees that year was nearly 1.4 m. Don was evacuated with his sister Sheila to somewhere near Scarborough. He recalled it as a terrible experience. He was 5 years old, standing in the station with a suitcase and name label round his neck, like Paddington Bear. They were waiting to be chosen and they got picked late. All he ever said about this period was that his host family seemed annoyed to have them and were not kind. He returned to Hull after 3 years – it must have seemed a very long 3 years.

He got into Grammar School, then had to leave at 15 ahead of his O’Levels as the family needed him to go out and earn. His first job – delivering bread on a bike and then someone realised he was bright and he started doing things in the office. He did 5 years National Service with the Royal Engineers, doing his O’Levels during this period and passing with top grades. He kept his Army record – it said he was ‘exemplary’. Quote ‘he is a keen and efficient NCO and is prepared to work hard. He is conscientious, clean, sober and trustworthy. Keen on basketball and soccer’. The love of football never left him, he was an avid Man U supporter.

He came out of the Army in 1956, joined RHM or Mothers Pride as everyone thought of it at the time. Mother squeezes the bread! We were never allowed to buy any other brand, Sunblest was the enemy. He married his 1st wife but they were not to be the love of each other’s lives.

Don came into our lives in 1970. Our mother Evelyn had gone to work with him as his secretary. We got the impression that he was a tough and demanding boss, we also suspect that her secretarial skills were a little rusty. She was glamourous, and funny but skeletal and broken from a devastating marriage break up. He fell hopelessly in love, declaring his feelings by putting a red rose in her work file. While he wooed her with flowers and dinners, he tamed us with doughnuts and cakes. He brought into our lives his irascible Basset Jasper, secretly known as Fang because of his predilection for biting. We had recently lost the family dog and I was broken hearted – in an early act of kindness, he asked me if I would like to share Jasper with him and so it was that I became the only female that Jasper was ever nice to!

At this time Don was managing the Mother’s Pride bakery in Exeter. He and Mummy married, we got our mother back and a new family life full of animals, holidays and activity. They adored each other and the house began to ring with laughter. Don had acquired 3 step-daughters and he gradually became a father to us. It was a brave enterprise for him. He was firm but fair. He was massively supportive of our education, only wanting the best for us, he treated us as though we were his own. I remember one day someone commented on how alike we looked – father and daughter. We both smiled, both pleased at the compliment. He was also fierce in chasing off would be suitors – boy friends had to be very determined and well shaven! I suspect you will hear more on this at the Wake.

Don’s career took off, he was promoted every couple of years and soon enough he was on the Board of RHM as the Operations Director for the whole country. He had huge business acumen, a good financial brain, the ability to cut through and see the issue, and do what needed to be done. He also had a human touch – he knew how important it was to remember people and for all his shop floor workers he kept a little book of names and family happenings which he would revise before visiting his shops. RHM rated him so highly that they funded him to go to California to do the Stanford Executive programme, following which he was appointed as Chief Exec of RHM Retail. Not bad for a boy from Hull who had had to leave school without his exams. He was awarded the Freedom of the City of London, by the Baker’s Guild – it was a wonderful ceremony and my mother and I were so proud to be there with him. He retired from RHM in 1990 and he attacked his retirement with gusto.

California had its impact on him – he came back saying ‘hi’ and loving yoghurt – very surprising. He had also taken up running and in typical style was not happy just to go jogging – there needed to be a goal. In 1987 he completed 3 marathons – New York, Paris and London, all sub 4 hours. Goal achieved, he hung up his running shoes.

That wasn’t Don’s only sporting achievement, he had also been a very keen cyclist in his earlier years cycling for miles in Yorkshire. But it was after watching the local hunt meeting one day down in Lympstone, that he found his passion for horses. Over the next couple of years his skills improved, and when we moved to Warwickshire he bought his first horse, Cora, who took him hunting for many years before being superceded by bigger and faster models. Don took the whole family on riding holidays on his beloved North York Moors towing our own horses up there. He competed in hunter trials and teamchases with family members with great gusto, but hunting was his thing. He hunted for years and finally hung his boots up at the grand age of 70.

After the initial flurry of hunting and holidays, Don started to get bored and realised it was time to do something. He became a Warden for the River Thames Society for 5 years. He then became the Chairman of the Witney MS Society and he cared about this and the people passionately. He regularly would shake a bucket outside the supermarket on a Saturday morning fully believing that you should not ask someone to do something you would not do yourself. He chaired many events and meetings but more, he visited many members and was by all accounts very good at it, caring and helping to sort things out. We are told he was amazing.

Don was never one to pay someone to do a job he could do himself – One day while he was still working, he was up a ladder in his boiler suit painting the windows . The dustbin lorry came down and the guys asked him if the people who owned the house were good payers. He didn’t put them right – he just said they were careful. Typical of his humility and humour.

Don and our mother travelled widely, played bridge together (not a good idea), and had a very active social life. We sadly lost our mother in 2012 after years of fighting with cancer – Don was brilliant caring for her through this. He had to make a new life and so he did. He was not a man who spent time feeling sorry for himself. He moved to Eynsham with his friendly Basset Polly. They could be seen walking around Orchard Close, our father wearing a bright yellow bobble hat and Polly demonstrating that Bassets are not really lead trained. He loved Orchard Close, the sense of community, neighbours who looked out for him, an active social life and of course his roses. We were happy that he was safe but then he would suddenly go AWOL. We had a call from the police one day – his personal safety alarm had gone off but they could not locate him. They sent out the search parties but no success. Where could he be?

The answer was that Daddy had found a new love in his life, Valery. He adored Valery and we thought they were a brilliant match for each other, intellectually and emotionally. Valery has been his constant companion ever since and we are so happy that he brought her into our lives and we have a new family member. They had many short breaks, staying in lovely places where they ate and drank well and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. We’ve had many happy family times together, weekends away, celebratory meals and their affection towards each other was a lovely thing to behold.

Old age can be hard – all the broken bones from hunting and running took its toll on Don’s mobility. But typical of him, he was going to get every ounce of work out of his body and I am sure he left this world with few regrets. He was stoical to the end, only 10 days before he passed away he was discussing with me his plan to acquire an electric wheelchair so he could move around more easily. The end was peaceful – he was full of smiles and tenderness. Those smiles were a gift – they will stay with us.

We are sad and it is hard to accept that he is not here anymore and yet he will live on in our hearts. We are proud of him and all he was. We are thankful for all his gifts and the gift of having him in our lives.

Please click the link below for the tribute read out at the wake:-

Don Boot Tribute at the Wake


JO WILSON 1953 – 2022


The Bury family moved from Suffolk to Oxfordshire in 1920 firstly to High Cogges and then to Stanton Harcourt in 1930. Jo was the youngest of three having two elder brothers, Peter and David. An idyllic childhood was spent at Blackditch, their lovely home, with grass tennis court, stables and later a swimming pool. Jo always had lovely ponies and the first show of the season would be Witney YFC held at Stanton Harcourt next to the village hall, generously sponsored by the Bury family.

Jo was educated at St Helen’s and St Katharine’s in Abingdon. On leaving school Jo decided to go and work for Charles and Janet Cope in Standlake with their show horses and eventers, initially for one year. During this time Jo became one of the few people in the country to pass her Pony Club A test, a real feather in her cap. Twelve years later she decided it was time for a change and went travelling around the world, returning just in time for the hunting season.

In December at the annual Bury Dinner Dance at the Randolph, Oxford, attended by Alan, he thought it only polite to dance with host’s daughter. Driving home Alan came across a damsel in distress, Jo had a puncture. Alan being the gentleman he is stopped and changed the wheel and that was the start of the romance. On 1st October, in St Michael’s church Stanton Harcourt 39 years ago, Alan and Jo were married. Jo moved to Rectory farm house in Alvescot welcoming with open arms Alex, Tom and Izzy. How lucky they were to have such a step mother. They were soon joined by Fiona and Robbie. 25 years ago the Wilson family moved to College Farm, South Leigh, creating the magnificent family home it is today. I know it gave Jo great pleasure relaxing this Summer in the garden surrounded by her family.

Jo took great pleasure from her horses and loved preparing them at home for Fiona, competing in dressage and side saddle, Robbie’s polo and latterly Tom’s daughter Maisie’s dressage on Jo’s lovely hunter. The whole family hunted and were very generous hosts before, during and after.

Jo was the best friend one could wish for totally confidential and giver of sound advice. Recently reflecting, Jo said I am so lucky to have three really good friends, one listens really well, one is a great practical help and one talks a lot.

I know Jo’s dearest wish is that everyone will support the family, now and in the future especially Alan, Fiona and Robbie. Jo was taken from us far too early, we will all miss her terribly, farewell old friend.


With thanks to Peter Colson who wrote the eulogy from which the above are extracts, and our condolences to Alan and family upon their sad loss.





MALCOLM DOUGLAS OSMUNSON ~ 13th May 1940 – 16th October, 2021


Malcolm was born in Redbridge, east London in May 1940, and was brought up by his mother and grandmother in London. Of course, London was heavily bombed during the Blitz, and we can imagine a young Malcolm being rushed to the air-raid shelter or perhaps to the local Tube station to shelter from the bombardment.

When Malcolm was ten, his mother met and married a member of the United States Air Force, and the family relocated to Washington. He was educated and graduated in America, and was passionate about science, with an ambition to become a zoologist.

Upon returning to Britain, however, the fact that his qualifications were gained in the States were a hindrance to his entering that field. Undaunted, he succeeded in getting a job at Queen Elizabeth College in London as a laboratory technician, and we shall hear more about how his career progressed shortly.

Malcolm met his wife Irene when they both also had part-time jobs at a cinema. She was an usher and ice-cream vendor, and Malcolm worked in front of house. Deborah and Mark told me that their Mum thought he was a bit of a twit, quite nerdy, but also a gentleman with lovely manners. She was a bit more streetwise and down to earth. Clearly, opposites attracted, and the pair must have had a great time together around the Portobello Road area of London in the Swinging 60s!

Their marriage was blessed with the births of Mark and Deborah, but sadly Malcolm and Irene split up when the children were in their teens, and as is often the case contact between father and children became infrequent. Malcolm was never overly comfortable with young children, especially other peoples, but Deborah and Mark remember him being a loving, hands-on Dad when they were small, and later a proud Granddad and great-Granddad. He was always available for help and advice when they needed it. They also have early memories of going in to work with him to feed the laboratory animals and milk the snakes.

Outside of work, Malcolm had always had a keen interest in industrial archaeology, and loved to visit old mills, iron bridges, and factories, as well as (perhaps surprisingly) churches, and this is evidenced by some of the paintings he had on his walls at home. Art was one of his abiding interests, and he had commissioned a couple of portraits.

Mark has memories of his dad’s huge collection of slides taken at industrial buildings, which Malcolm would enthusiastically get his son sit and watch, telling him it was educational. Mark, I think you found it more akin to torture!

I loved catching a glimpse of some of his wonderful collections of various items – the china jugs being one amazing selection. There were also, I believe, cigarette cards, coins, stamps, periodicals, and matchboxes.

In the late 1980s Malcolm met Sue, a colleague at work and after living together in Hanwell for a number of years Sue was offered a job at Oxford University and as this coincided with Malcolm retiring, they then relocated to South Leigh.

They both loved their Oxfordshire home and Malcolm became very involved in village life, helping to run the village fete, and volunteering at Witney Museum. Sadly in 2010 Sue was diagnosed with breast cancer and passed away two years later at home, with Malcom caring for her to the end.

Malcolm started his career in 1960 at Queen Elizabeth College in the Physiology Department, where he became a chief technician, or laboratory superintendent, as was the terminology at the time. He always wore a suit – a rarity amongst technical staff, and during breaks avidly completed crosswords, an interest he kept up until his death.

During this time, he became a lay officer in the Queen Elizabeth College ASTMS Union branch, playing an important role in the merger of Queen Elizabeth College, Chelsea College and King’s College London. He was instrumental in bringing together the technical structures and services of the three organisations.

Malcolm also became a trustee of the SAUL pension scheme, a scheme with a strong technical membership. He did this as a duty to all of his colleagues despite finding the meetings very dull.

Following the merger, Malcolm managed all of the combined technical services of the health and life sciences, with responsibility for all technical services on the three sites of the merging Colleges. He visited them weekly and met with all of the technicians informing them of changes and developments, sharing information to all. At this time, he became the Branch Chair of the merged Union, now called MSF.

The expertise and exceptional effort that Malcolm contributed to the merger of the three colleges and subsequent consolidation into a single organisation was recognised, and he was awarded an MBE for his ‘contribution to higher education’.

When the Health Schools were merged and moved south of the river to sites at Waterloo, Guy’s and Denmark Hill a major exercise of grading and slotting-in of technical staff to the pay scales was required. Malcolm was instrumental in this reorganisation, mentoring technicians and helping them to fit into the new structures and the new ways of doing things.

Following his retirement in 2005, he moved to the Cotswolds where he lived with his partner and latterly his wife Sue Holly. His organisation skills were soon called in to help run the village and the summer fete which flourished due to his involvement. He took up wood turning and quickly became the finance trustee to the Oxfordshire Wood Turners Association.

Malcolm’s contributions to the creation of what latterly became King’s College London’s Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine were enormous, creating a culture that has continued to be fostered. He will be greatly missed by all who worked with him; his encouragement and forbearance were legendary.

Malcolm’s interests were indeed manifold – he had a strong social conscience as evidenced by his work with trade unions, and he took a great interest in the homeless, volunteering at some of the Crisis Christmas lunches. He loved birdlife and was a lifetime member of the RSPB, as well as the Ashmolean Museum and the National Trust. In retirement, Malcolm was a member of the Oxfordshire Pensioners’ Group and enjoyed outings to the Oxford Playhouse amongst others.

Malcolm’s last years were enriched by his partnership with Shirley, and she has written warmly about their time together.

He was an innately sociable man, and his friends have described him as warm and kind. But I think he would be the first to admit that he didn’t suffer fools gladly, and he enjoyed the company of others very much on his own terms and when he wanted! Perhaps we can all relate to that.

During his last months, Malcolm was indeed fortunate to have Mark and Deborah, along with Shirley, spending time with him and overseeing his care.

From Shirley:

I met Malcolm at the Witney Museum where we both served on the committee for several years.

He was a kind, gentle, considerate, and courageous man who was aware of and acted upon many social issues. Malcolm supported many local and national charities. Last year he was contacted by Amnesty International and was told he was one of the longest serving donors of the charity.

Together we enjoyed many trips, visiting National Trust properties, art galleries, classical music concerts and walks in Blenheim Park. Usually after these events we would end up in a cafe for a sticky bun. We went on several holidays, regularly went to the Oxford Playhouse and of course the Burford Jazz Club was a favourite, with Clive and Caroline.

He would make me laugh a lot, he was very organised and would have a list for his collections, a list for his daily chores and a spreadsheet for what he wanted to take on holidays.

Malcolm mended and repaired objects and I did wonder if his eye for detail was influenced by his mother who made elaborate dolls houses and furniture.

In the last few years of his life, he continued to be creative by making garden sculptures out of found objects from the beach and walking in the woods. Malcolm appreciated all art forms and creativity; he supported me in all my art pursuits.

The last few months of Malcolm’s life were spent doing crosswords and Scrabble. He was a consummate crossword player. He used to give me a wry look and tut if I looked at the answers.

We packed in a lot of memories in the short time we had together. Malcolm bore his cancer with dignity and fortitude. He was my soulmate and a very special person to me, and I will miss his sense of humour and zest for life.

Malcolm touched so many people’s lives. He will be remembered for his many kindnesses, his strong social conscience, his gentlemanly nature, his care for his family and friends, his sense of humour, his encouragement of others.

Malcolm’s ashes have been buried at Fairspear Natural Ground in Leafield, to join those of his late wife, Sue.

TOM LITT 1930 – 2020


Tom was born in 1930 in Cumbria near Carlisle and came to Oxfordshire as a child when his father was asked to manage a farm in Horspath near Cowley.

One of six children, Tom followed in his father’s footsteps and on leaving school worked on a number of farms. He soon found a thriving social life at Faringdon Young Farmers’ Club, which provided a centre of activities that Tom enjoyed including dances, quiz nights, darts matches, football and tennis. He made many long-term friends and was always fully involved and eventually became their club chairman. He was working at Step Farm for a Mr. Saunders who encouraged former agricultural students. By now he was playing football for several different clubs, including Stanford in the Vale, and it was whilst playing for them that he broke his jaw so badly that it had to be wired up for several weeks.

On leaving Step Farm Tom went to work at Barcot Farm before being asked to manage Buckland Marsh Farm for the executors of the late M. Bob Pike. Later he took another farm manager’s role in Cricklade running a large estate for a Mr. Horton. It was whilst working there that he met Barbara.

Eventually Tom and Barbara married, and life took on a big change of direction when, with two small children, Sara and Kairen, he decided to take on the lease of The Mason Arms in South Leigh, a run-down pub in need of a big makeover if it was to be a viable business. Tom became an excellent host and landlord, brewing his own beer which became a very popular local brew and nationally recognised by the Campaign for Real Ale. He and Barbara ran an excellent restaurant which quickly became the ‘go to’ eating establishment in the area. Tom travelled to Faringdon to buy his beef and to Selsey in Sussex to buy fish, lobsters and crab. Tom, along with Jeremy Walker, kept a water ski boat aptly named ‘Tom & Jerry’ at the 3T’s lake in Standlake. The girls became proficient water skiers and Tom enjoyed driving the boat and teaching their friends how to water ski.

It was during this time that Tom was also Chairman of Witney Town Football Club and was heavily involved in the development of the club.

During his 20 years in the restaurant business, Tom had built a family home in Church End, South Leigh but when he retired from the Mason Arms they moved to Tarwood Lodge until a house at Field Assarts had been renovated into a beautiful new home. By this time Sara was cooking in London, Scotland, France and Greece and Kairen was working for Pergamon Press in Oxford.

Tom took over the running of Witney Park and Pick on the estate of John Mawle. This he made into a successful business until the land was needed for development as Witney expanded.

On leaving Field Assarts, Tom and Barbara moved to Bampton and being at a loose end, but wanting to keep busy, Tom started going to Bristol Fruit and Veg market twice a week and created a small delivery round to local shops. Tom and Barbara’s next move was to Pulborough in Sussex to be nearer to Sara and to help with her growing family. One of his pleasures whilst there was attending Goodwood races where he became a member and made some good friends whilst doubtless winning a few pounds.

Following Barbara’s death in 2004, Tom moved to Drayton, near Abingdon.

Tom always enjoyed his holidays and spent many boating holidays in Cornwall, camping in France and visits to the Algarve, Gibraltar, Malta as well as visiting Sara when she was cooking on one of the Greek Islands. There were also several winter trips to East Africa.

At the age of 78, Tom decided on a big trip to Australia and New Zealand by himself, travelling light with just one carry-on case for a six weeks tour. “I can buy what I need when I get there” he said. His final two years were difficult; as Tom had become less mobile he moved to The Bridge House in Abingdon for care where he celebrated his ninetieth birthday with an excellent lunch. Tom was a great family man and a proud grandfather of five grandchildren. He led an eventful and varied life which he lived to the full. It led him in many different directions… he had hard times, he had great times, he was always good company, he made lots of friends, he worked hard, he played hard, he was loyal to a fault. The world was a better place for him having lived for ninety years.

Sara Voice and Kairen Caudwell

Graham ‘Buster’ Townsend


Graham was born 4th September 1951 in Bromley Kent. He moved with his parents Evelyn (known as June) and Allen Townsend to Stanton Harcourt, growing up with his younger brother, Roger, first living on the old airfield before moving to a house on Flexneys Paddock.

When Graham left Bartholomew School in Eynsham he did an apprentiship in HGV mechanics at Harcourt Motors, later gaining his HGV licence and so spent most of his working life as a lorry driver, which he loved. He did spend a period of time working at the car factory in Oxford – British Leyland as it was then – and a period laying TV cables. But lorries were what he loved best.

Graham came from a family of Banger Racing, spending many weekends either racing or tinkering with his race car with his brother, he often would talk about Nova 176.

He was a big Teddy Boy and very proud of it, loving Elvis and Shwaddywaddy. He married Julie in 1978, taking on her two sons, Jake and Glenn as his own, before they had Cally in 1980. He was an excellent father to all three… calm, reliable and hard working. For Graham his family always came first. Graham loved fixing cars. Not just his own but there were always regular knocks on the door while they lived in Standlake (1978-2007) and it would be someone asking if he could ‘take a look at their car’ or, in Julie’s words ‘go out and play cars’.

Then, living in Lymbrook Close, South Leigh where even the postman would pop in to chat with him, and everyone kept an eye on him. Graham loved camping and caravanning holidays as a family and later with Julie and Odie. They camped all over the UK, walking many miles and climbing many hills and mountains. Cally remembers the time when they had storm winds and had to tie the tent to the car, she remembers how it was dark out and he ran out to join the other campers, helping to secure the other tents that were not doing so well. Cally remembers one time that they woke up with a river running through the tent and Graham had to dig a trench round the tent to divert the water.

Graham loved wolves! He had a wolf tattoo and one of his favourite outings was to the Wolf Conservation Trust in Reading where he got to walk with the wolves.

Graham had a really close relationship with his grandson, Harvey. They would spend many weekends watching movies like Convoy – they once watched it twice in one night – or listening to his record collection. Jake remembers the many times Graham would come and find him when he got lost on his motorbike, often travelling miles.

A gentle giant, always with a smile on his face, always ready to help in any way he could…

Grampy Buster to Harvey, Freya, Albie, Eliza, Lanny, Thorn, Michael, Kaylen, Louie and Alysha.


Maurice John ‘Tim’ Gillham ~ 3rd January 1923 – 18th October 2018

‘Tim’, as he was known to all, died peacefully in Freeland House Nursing Home in the evening of Thursday, 18th October.

Tim was born in Hull on 3rd January 1923, moving to Hitchin with his parents and two brothers in 1938. He joined the Royal Air Force in August 1939 aged just 16 and whilst on his initial course at RAF Cranwell he witnessed the first flight of a British jet powered aeroplane. He spent WWll as a radio operator on Sunderland flying boats based in The Gambia returning to RAF Wheaton Aston in 1944 where he met Mollie whom he married in 1946.

Tim’s long and interesting career saw him fly on over 30 types and over 130 different aeroplanes. He retired from the RAF in 1978 when he and Mollie moved into Box Cottage, South Leigh. He worked for a few years as a laboratory technician at Kidlington Secondary School but when he retired from that position, the large garden became the focal point for his two main interests – his ever-expanding family and growing a few vegetables and soft fruit.

Many a Christening, birthday, anniversary or just a family get-together took place at Box Cottage. When Mollie died in 2011, he took the decision to remain in South Leigh and, although he did not join any of the village organisations or societies, he was always interested and well informed about what was going on within South Leigh. Tim could often be seen walking along the lanes, not so long ago half way to the A40, but as infirmity took hold, Lymbrook Close was an achievement. When he surrendered his driving licence due to failing eyesight he became a regular on the Thursday bus. ‘Use it or lose it’ were his thoughts about this.

Tim’s funeral was attended by twenty-five members of his immediate family, all of whom would like to thank his neighbours for their friendship towards him and ‘keeping an eye’ on him over the last 12 months as his health deteriorated. On telling the Thursday ‘bussers’ of his passing, they described him as ‘a real gentleman’. What a lovely, wonderful epitaph and a way to be remembered!

Jeremy Gillham



SIR CLIVE CHRISTOPHER HUGH ELLIOTT, 4th Bt., PH.D., 12th August, 1945 – 18th April, 2018
by Stephen Pringle (with thanks to Bob Cheke and John Cooper for their comments)


Clive Elliott once told me in jest that he hoped that his death, when it came, would be on the tennis court, preferably after he had struck the match-winning shot. It was not to be; Clive succumbed to a virulent form of cancer on 18th April 2018. His sudden passing at the age of 72 brought to a close a remarkably full and interesting life, much of it spent in what he referred to as his beloved ‘dark continent’ – Africa.

Born in 1945 in what was then Tanganyika to Sir Hugh and Lady Elizabeth Elliott, Clive was the youngest of three children, and the only one to inherit his father’s passions for both Africa and birds. At a pre-school age, Clive began his life-long travels to remote and interesting places; his father was appointed as the first Administrator of Tristan da Cunha (‘Tristan’), the main island of a remote volcanic archipelago in the South Atlantic. It was there that Clive received his early schooling from 1950-52. He soon became fascinated by the abundant sea-birds, and his interests in wildlife were nurtured by the happy coincidence of there being two top ornithologists and an ichthyologist on the island at that time. In addition to his father, an eminent amateur who became an authority on the herons of the world (Hancock & Elliott 1978), Tristan was host to Berthus and Bunty Rowan, both of whom were research scientists working in the fishing industry. Bunty (Mrs MK Rowan), a microbiologist, was also an expert ornithologist who later played a pivotal role in the creation of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology (‘FitzPatrick Institute’) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where she had a distinguished research career. When his father was drafted back to Tanganyika, Clive was sent to the Dragon School in Oxford, returning during school holidays to Africa, where he pursued his interests in birds.

From an early age Clive was fluent in Swahili, a skill that was to be of great benefit in his later career. However, this fluency had a downside; his father, who passed his mischievous sense of humour onto his son, enjoyed conversing loudly in Swahili with an embarrassed Clive on London buses, much to the astonishment of startled fellow passengers. The Elliott family returned to their ancestral home in Woodstock Road, Oxford when Tanganyika became independent as Tanzania in 1961. Clive completed his schooling at Bryanston in Dorset, after which he read Zoology at University College, Oxford.

As an undergraduate member of an Oxford University expedition to northern Uganda, Clive surveyed the avifauna of the remote Kidepo National Park (Elliott 1972). During these years Clive developed close links with the university’s Edward Grey Institute and he was duly offered a place to study for a doctorate under its eminent director, David Lack. His research project was destined to be on warblers in Africa, contingent upon funding from the Royal Society. While awaiting the offer of funding, Clive spent a summer in Cumbria working with Niko Tinbergen’s research team on Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus. At this point an opportunity cropped up that was to change the course of Clive’s life. Through the Tristan link with Bunty Rowan, he became aware of a funded research position at the FitzPatrick Institute that would enable him to undertake a doctorate on the Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis. Frustrated by funding delays, and keen to return to Africa, Clive applied for, and was offered this position, and he arrived in Cape Town early in 1968. It turned out that this seemingly impulsive decision to study weavers instead of warblers was particularly fortuitous for Clive’s later career. Coinciding with his arrival in Cape Town, Clive received Royal Society funding for a short research trip to Gough Island to work on Great Shearwaters Ardenna gravis (Elliott 1970).

I first met Clive in 1968 when I enrolled at the University of Cape Town to study physics and mathematics; the link was that I was a keen amateur ornithologist and a trainee bird-ringer. My knowledge of local birds and birding sites was particularly useful to Clive and we often went on field trips together. Even more useful to Clive was my fluency in Afrikaans, which would be put to good use when we went on weaver-collecting trips to various parts of the Western Cape. We travelled through farming areas where only Afrikaans was spoken and I would be tasked with knocking on the door of each farmhouse to ask whether my scientist friend could shoot some specimens for his research. Clive would generally remain out of sight in the car, his trendy long hair – revolutionary at that time in South Africa – being a red rag to many Afrikaners.

Soon Clive’s circle of local (mostly amateur) ornithologist friends widened, as did the range of bird species we researched. Penguins, cormorants, waders, starlings, swallows and weavers were all targets of weekend and evening ringing trips. In 1969, Clive and I were rather surprisingly given permission to visit Robben Island with senior members of the university’s Zoology department and FitzPatrick Institute to investigate the feasibility of ringing Hartlaub’s Gull Chroicocephalus hartlaubii chicks. At that time, Nelson Mandela was serving his fifth year of incarceration in the high-security prison, and the island was inaccessible to all except the police and military. I can’t claim that we saw Mandela chipping away at the rocks in the limestone quarry, but perhaps he saw us from his cell window and wondered what on earth these strange visitors were up to. Clive’s earlier work on Black-headed Gulls was no doubt part of the justification for the trip, but I suspect he was also keen to visit Robben Island because of its notorious connotations. Clive’s robust anti-apartheid views often made his Cape Town years awkward in terms of his relationship with his PhD supervisor and I recall a heated argument between the two of them on the boat trip back to Cape Town Docks. At a more sinister level, his activities (and mine) were, unbeknown to us, being monitored by a student friend and expert amateur ornithologist, who secretly worked for the Bureau of State Security, or security police. Many years later, after the change of government in South Africa, it emerged that our friend’s activities had led to the deaths of several anti-apartheid activists during the late 1970s and 1980s, including Steve Biko.

While working to complete his doctorate (Elliott 1973), Clive also led the research efforts of a diverse group of mainly amateur wader enthusiasts, whose ringing and census work resulted in several papers on Palaearctic waders (e.g., Elliott et al. 1976), and provided key data used to justify the classification of Langebaan Lagoon in South Africa (Pringle & Cooper 1975) and part of Walvis Bay lagoon in Namibia (Underhill et al. 1978) as Ramsar Wetland Sites of International Importance. Wader ringing was primarily by means of mist netting, but it became clear that cannon netting would be a useful additional method of capturing species such as Sanderling Calidris alba. However, this seemingly innocuous device could not be imported into pariah state South Africa because of the international arms embargo at that time. Clive arranged for a member of the ringing team with engineering skills to fabricate a local version and it was used with much success for several years. In great contrast to some of his professional colleagues, Clive’s enthusiastic involvement in wader research was typical of his approach to working closely with amateur birders, building on their knowledge and enthusiasm, nurturing their research skills and encouraging them to publish their results. Clive’s conviction that well-directed amateurs could make a significant contribution to the science of ornithology predated by more than two decades the concept of ‘citizen science’, now much in vogue (Gura 2013).

In Cape Town, when he was in his mid-twenties, Clive’s flamboyant dress sense made him instantly recognisable among the far more conservatively-dressed South African men. Whether sporting flared Oxford bags on campus, or standing at the prow of our boat heading out to a seabird island while donning his crumpled hat and flowing red bandanna, he cut a distinctive figure. Complementing this image, Clive purchased an elderly, but stylish, open-topped red MG sports car, which nearly led to his early demise. Driving alone in swirling dust along an isolated dirt road into the setting sun he had not spotted a flimsy barbed-wire gate located behind a cattle grid. His car crashed through the gate at speed, demolishing it, but somehow he avoided being decapitated. Emerging dazed from the wreckage he found himself beside the farmer, who demanded compensation. Clive handed over some cash and resumed his journey in a crumpled car that by then matched his crumpled birding hat.

After completing his initial research contract, Clive was heavily involved in the creation of a new framework to administer bird ringing in South Africa and some adjacent countries. He was appointed to run (1972-75) the organisation that he succeeded in naming the National Unit for Bird Ringing Administration; the acronym by which it became known (NUBRA) appealed to his wry humour. In 1973 at a Cape Bird Club meeting Clive met Marie-Thérèse (‘M-T’) Rüttimann, who had recently joined the human genetics research group at the University of Cape Town. With her adventurous spirit, love of wild places, and wide knowledge of wildlife, M-T was the perfect partner for Clive. When his contract with the ringing unit (now known more prosaically as SAFRING) came to an end, Clive’s African upbringing and expertise in weaver ecology, ringing and migration studies made him well qualified for a position within the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The project, based in Chad, involved research and control measures on Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea across much of northern and western Africa. This species, regarded as the world’s most numerous undomesticated bird, causes extensive damage to cereal crops throughout semi-arid zones of sub-Saharan Africa.

It was no surprise that when Clive left Cape Town for Chad in 1975 to take up his FAO post, M-T went with him and they married that year in a simple ceremony in Ndjamena. At that time, Chad was relatively stable and the Elliotts enjoyed their years there; an added bonus was the fine food available due to the French military presence. Clive’s quelea work involved extensive travel across the region, but he found time to indulge in another of his great passions – tennis. The French had built some tennis courts in Ndjamena and the military organised a men’s singles tournament with an impressive trophy awarded to the champion. Highly competitive, Clive entered each year, ultimately winning the cup. Shortly after his triumph in 1978, Chad descended into chaos as civil war again broke out. A hasty departure for expatriates was organised and Clive liberated the trophy for safe keeping in his Oxfordshire home; he remains the reigning champion of the (lapsed) Chad Open tennis tournament.

From Chad, the Elliotts moved to Arusha in Tanzania, where Clive took up a new FAO position, again working on quelea, this time involving extensive fieldwork throughout eastern Africa. In 1981, my wife and I accompanied Clive and his colleague John Beesley (of Beesley’s Lark Chersomanes beesleyi fame) on a quelea research trip to Lake Natron. Clive’s wry humour in designing the logo that adorned his Land Rover greatly amused the Masai people; under Swahili wording ‘Mradi Wa Quelea’ (Project Quelea), it showed two dead queleas on their backs with their feet in the air. Clive’s extensive field-based research on Red-billed Quelea across most of its African range resulted in a number of publications and a seminal book, which he co-authored with an FAO colleague (Bruggers & Elliott 1989). After several years in Arusha, Clive moved to other FAO-funded positions, firstly in Karen, Kenya (1986-89), and later in Rome at the FAO headquarters, where he was based until retirement in 2006. After leaving Africa, Clive’s FAO work was far less focused on quelea as he was also responsible for dealing with other migrant pests, including locusts. In a somewhat downhearted letter to me from Rome in 1995, Clive bemoaned the fact that his work was increasingly taking him away from birds to work on ‘bees, locusts, armyworm, and plagues of everything except biblical blisters…’. He also regretted his limited opportunities to ‘disappear back to the African bush…’, and described his position as Senior Migratory Pests Officer as ‘sounding like an itinerant grey-bearded rat-catcher.’ His comments reflected his self-deprecation. Clive regularly returned to Africa whenever he could and is remembered within the FAO as being a very positive force maintaining the profile of quelea, locusts and armyworm whenever “donor-fatigue” set in or a locust upsurge in need of control started.

Although frustrated in Rome, Clive’s intermittent field trips for locust control work – often emergencies at very short notice – took him to ever more exotic places including Eritrea, Mauritania, the Sudan, Oman, and even Tajikistan. In a letter to me after the first of his several trips to Eritrea, he wrote about his experience of standing in the middle of a vast locust swarm. ‘They made even the biggest flock of quelea look like peanuts, if you can imagine that… half a field crop was eaten in front of my eyes, before we sprayed them and produced up to 300 dead locusts per m2’. This was quite a statement – in another letter to me a few years earlier Clive had estimated that there were 67 million queleas in Tanzania.

For Clive and M-T living in Rome had many consolations, including the proximity of their sons, Ivo and Nico, who were educated in the UK, and Clive’s annual visits to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships. Driving his British racing green Morgan sports car to work in Rome from their farmhouse home, Clive enjoyed hearing shouts of ‘Che bella macchina’ from appreciative Italian car buffs. With his sharp mind and even sharper tongue, Clive was intolerant of fools and had little time for those he considered pompous or illogical. But he also had a tremendous sense of humour, which was not always appreciated by all. In his final years at the FAO in Rome, he took a couple of days off work for minor surgery to remove several harmless lesions from his face that had resulted from years of exposure to the African sun. Returning to work with an impressive array of stitches across his forehead, Clive casually informed his horrified colleagues that he had undergone major brain surgery.

After moving back to Oxford in 2006, Clive undertook several projects for the FAO and as a consultant to EU-funded projects on quelea led by Bob Cheke of the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, including field training courses and research on trapping methods (Elliott et al. 2014) in Tanzania and Botswana. He wrote a book that documented the fifty-year history of the Desert Locust Control Organization activities in Eastern Africa (Elliott 2012) and co-authored another on the work of the FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in South-West Asia during 1964-2014 (Cressman & Elliott 2014). Clive became actively involved in several clubs and societies, including the Oxford Ornithological Society (of which he was President), the Tristan da Cunha Association, the British Trust for Ornithology, and the African Bird Club. He was also a life member of BirdLife South Africa. In retirement Clive and M-T continued to travel widely to remote parts of the world pursuing their interests in wildlife, photography, and snorkelling in tropical seas. At his home in South Leigh, Oxfordshire, Clive resumed bird ringing, specifically of Tree Sparrows Passer montanus that nested in increasing numbers in the boxes that he and a group of fellow enthusiasts placed in an area of west Oxfordshire. He was an active member of the North Oxford Lawn Tennis Club, regularly taking part in team matches until shortly before his fatal illness.

Clive succeeded as the 4th Baronet Elliott of Limpsfield, Surrey on the death of his father in 1989. He is survived by Marie-Thérèse, his devoted wife of 43 years, their sons Ivo and Nico, and four grandchildren. His passing brings to an end the rich and colourful life of an English gentleman ornithologist whose heart lay in Africa, and whose friendship was greatly valued by the many diverse people whose lives he had enriched over the years.


We are sad to report that Derrick Greensweig of The Paddock, Shores Green passed away in March. Our condolences go to his widow and family.


ALAN HARTLEY 1st October, 1938 – 01 Feb 2018

We regret to have report the death of Alan Hartley who for many years lived at Tarwood Lodge. He was a popular resident of South Leigh and was a game-keeper for John Mawle. Alan and Kate left the village about 10 years ago and moved to Freeland where Kate continues to live. Alan was a man of many talents and many stories – all entertaining. He had a vast knowledge of the countryside and its ways and was a superb carver. The fact that Alan was born on the opening day of the shooting season and died on the last day would certainly have made him smile.



We announce the death of Cyril Pantry who used to live in Station Road and many years ago delivered newspapers around the village. Our condolences go to his widow.


Jeremy Moor 11th February 1937 – November 2016

Jeremy was born in Harrogate but moved to Hythe, Kent with his mother at the end of the war. His mother died when he was 13 years old and so he was brought up by a maiden aunt. He went to William Harvey Grammar School in Folkestone and after National Service joined the Westminster Bank in the town. After being moved many times within the bank he arrived at Woodstock as branch manager from where he retired.

He had two sons, David and Edward, with his first wife. The marriage ended in 1978 when Jeremy was moved to Oxford. In 1987 whilst on holiday in Corfu he met Liz who was convalescing after a particularly bad bout of chickenpox. Liz returned to her job as physiotherapist in Ipswich and Jeremy to Oxford but they kept in touch and the friendship blossomed. They married in November 1988 to the delight of his sons.

Jeremy & Liz moved to South Leigh in 1994 following Jeremy’s early retirement. ‘Blue Barn’ had a large garden and Jeremy built a very productive vegetable plot thanks to huge quantities of homemade compost of which he was very proud. Jeremy grew prize winning vegetables and won the South Leigh Flower & Produce show trophies many times. He worked on the village hall committee at the time when deliberations were being made as to whether to refurbish the existing hall or follow up the prospect of a new hall on the football field. Meetings and minutes were long and time consuming.

In 2005 they moved to Witney. This house was compact and convenient and quiet. Jeremy, always an early riser, could walk to the shop for his paper at the same time they were being sorted! There was a small garden where he continued his love of growing things and making compost. Jeremy & Liz enjoyed return trips to South Leigh for pub nights, quizzes, and to play croquet.

Jeremy was diagnosed with myeloma in 2014 after a long time suffering with back pain. Liz nursed him until he died in November 2016.

JEAN EMILY HALEY 26th March, 1933 – 3rd November, 2016

Jean Emily Haley achieved something that very few people do these days; she lived her whole life not just in the same village but the in the same house, at Church End in South Leigh.

She was born there on Sunday 26 March 1933, the youngest child of Steve and Beattie Claridge and as she grew up she attended school in the village before going on to work at Compton Webb in Witney. It was when Jean was in her twenties that she met Harry Haley who came from Witney and the couple married at the parish church of St. James the Great in South Leigh, on April Fool’s Day!

The couple moved in with Jean’s family and Harry got on well with them and, in time they had a son, Andrew. He had a very happy childhood and Jean was a brilliant mum although sometimes they had slight disagreements, such as the time that Jean bought him a tricycle, which he really loved. In fact he enjoyed playing on it so much that he wouldn’t get off it! Jean would take Andrew into Witney every Saturday morning to visit the shops and then they would go to visit Harry’s mother there.

As he got older Andrew had a tendency to get into trouble, or get into accidents with his cars, so although he left home once or twice, Jean was always happy to have him living at home. He went through a phase of owning rather noisy American cars, but Jean always knew when he was on his way home because she could hear him coming along the A40. So she not only knew he was safe, but that she could get the dinner on the table. The family took a summer holiday every year, often going to stay with Harry’s sister Molly in Tiverton and sometimes they would go to Southend, travelling on the National Express coach to get there.

Over the years both Jean and Harry worked at the Mason Arms in the village, and Jean continued to help out there for many years, long after Harry passed away.
Although the local school had closed many years ago, in 2013 the village hall where it had been located was refurbished and there was a grand opening in the November of that year. As the oldest person in the village, Jean was one of two former pupils who were invited to go along and hold the large red ribbon so that it could be cut open by the local MP, a certain David Cameron. Jean was incredibly proud to take part, and even more proud that she had been featured in local television.

Jean continued to be active getting a taxi into Witney every Tuesday afternoon until she reached her 80s, and she still remained mobile, with the help of some modifications to the house, fitted by Andrew, right up until her last few weeks. She still cooked dinner for her nephews Martin and Michael, and Martin would sit with her each evening, enjoying some cheese and crackers and a little chat. And of course Andrew popped in twice a week after work and phoned her every day and he often brought her to Swindon to see Crystal play with her toys.

When Andrew and Heather got together Jean was like a Step-Grandmother to Heather’s daughters Hazel, Jasmine, Saffron and Primrose. But the real highlight of Jean’s life happened 7 years ago, with the birth of her granddaughter, Crystal, and Andrew remembers going into the Mason Arms to tell her about the baby’s arrival. She was over the moon and the two became very close. Every time she visited, Jean would give Crystal five pounds pocket money. After Jean’s death, Heather was sorting through her handbag, and meanwhile Crystal wondered, as 7 year olds do, whether she would still receive any pocket money. Tucked inside the word search book Jean always kept in her bag was a crumpled up fiver; perhaps even in her final days Jean hadn’t forgotten her beloved granddaughter.

As she aged television became the major entertainment in Jean’s life and she was very pleased when Andrew arranged for her to get Sky TV. Her favourite channel was Challenge with its many game shows. Jean watched some of the soaps, including Coronation Street and Emmerdale, and also enjoyed period dramas, particularly Downton Abbey as she followed the exploits of the Crawley family, and also Upstairs Downstairs, and the music played today reflects Jean’s love of those two programmes. We will also listen to her favourite hymn which she was always keen to hear on Songs of Praise.

As you may have gathered, Jean loved her TV, and it seems that perhaps her TV loved Jean back. While she was in hospital Andrew was at her house, watching the television for a while, when suddenly it stopped working, never to go again. At that moment, the telephone rang, with the news from the hospital that Jean had passed away.

Jean lived a simple life, never asking for or expecting a great deal. But she made the most of everything she had. Jean didn’t like to make a fuss, or to bother other people, but was always there for her family, whenever they needed her.


JOAN HAWTON 10th April, 1945 – 16th January, 2016


Dr. Joan Hawton (professional name Kirk) died on Saturday, 16th January at her home in South Leigh, with her husband Keith and her daughters Jane and Kate by her side. Joan and Keith moved into the village in November 1978 and married shortly after. Until she became unwell, Joan was often to be seen cycling or running in the village, and thoroughly enjoyed taking part in village activities such as events at the village hall, carols at the church and supporting the teams in the South Leigh v. High Cogges cricket match.

Despite a diagnosis of Multiple System Atrophy (a particularly severe form of Parkinson’s Disease), which gradually robbed her of the ability to do most of the things that she loved, Joan remained determined to maintain her friendships and as much of her vitality and interests as she could muster, right to the end of her life. Joan brought joy to everyone and everything with which she was associated. Right up to her untimely death, this aspect of her shone through. Even when she could barely talk, she could smile and laugh in her inimitable way at her own and others’ jokes. Like everything else she tackled, she coped with her illness with great fortitude.

Professionally, Joan was a pioneering clinical psychologist, who after studying at Liverpool and Edinburgh spent the rest of her long career in the NHS from 1971 based at the Warneford Hospital in Headington, Oxford. Here she led the large adult department of clinical psychologists, inspiring and supporting all those with whom she came into contact, with her endless energy, enthusiasm, wisdom and a professional generosity that was second to none. Her contribution to clinical psychology nationally was recognised by her election as a Fellow of the British Psychological Society. She was a pioneer of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), a highly effective form of psychological treatment, establishing the innovative Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre (OCTC) which offered specialist therapy clinics and training, and which was recognised at a national and international level.

In her spare time before her illness became disabling, Joan was an ardent walker – trekking the Himalayas and in New Zealand and China, to name some of her big trips. She also hiked much of the U.K. with her trusty binoculars always at hand to identify the birds spied on the way. Joan was a great lover of music, from opera to rock and loved going to concerts, with the Rolling Stones and Roxy Music being particular favourites. As soon as the music started in any setting Joan was always one of the first on her feet to dance to the beat! Even once her illness made these activities no longer possible, Joan found great pleasure in watching the birds in her garden in South Leigh, listening to music and enjoying trips in her wheelchair through South Leigh and around the Cotswolds.

As well as extensive travel abroad, holidays with the family on the beautiful Scottish Isle of Colonsay in the Hebrides were a regular event every year, come rain or shine. Here, walking, love of wild life, swimming in the icy sea and eating the local oysters could all be shared with her beloved family and many friends.

Joan’s funeral was held at South Leigh church, where her body has been laid to rest. This remarkable and much-loved woman will be sorely missed by her family, friends and colleagues.


ANN WRIGHT (née Maycock) 1948 – 2016

Ann was born on the 29th January, 1948 at Homans Lane, South Leigh, the first of four daughters for Roy and Sylvia Maycock. She spent many happy days of her childhood at Box Cottage with her beloved Nanny Doll and Grampy Lou who affectionately called her ‘Annie Bannie’.

All four girls attended Sunday school here at St. James and as a young girl, Ann met Baggy – both growing up in South Leigh, they became childhood sweethearts, getting married on 27th March 1965 when Ann was 17. Later that year Andrew was born and then in 1967 Donna arrived. Even at such a young age, Ann put so much thought into Andrew and Donna’s names, both including Ann within the letters of their names, the initials of Baggy’s name, ‘DRW’ were added for Andrew and Donna the D came from Baggy’s first initial and Ann spelt backwards – Baggy’s real name being Derek Roy (although not many people knew this!!).

Sadly, in November 1967, Ann’s much-loved dad passed away. In 1968, Ann met Margaret who was to become her best friend for the rest of her life, sharing many holidays and good times together. Ann was very active within the South Leigh community in her early years especially the late 70s to early 80s when she helped organise trips and holidays for the Youth Club.

In 1978, Ann started training to be a nurse, a lifelong ambition, however, due to the poor pay back then she, unfortunately, had to go back to working in a factory to get by. Ann worked hard all of her life, and her cleanliness was second to none, only cutting her working hours down in 1991 with the arrival of her most cherished granddaughter, Lauren, whose actual first word was ‘Ann’. The joy was doubled – in 1992 with the arrival of granddaughter, Hollie.

Ann and Baggy absolutely adored both of their granddaughters and their lives were fulfilled whenever the girls were with them; they even offered to buy Lauren from her mum and dad although there was no need as by the age of 2, Lauren had already decided she was going to live with them anyway! No money ever changed hands!

Ann’s life was hit with sadness again in 2005 when Baggy passed away, after many months of Ann dedicating day and night to his care. One of Baggy’s last memories, when he was ill, was of him chasing Ann in the snow when they were young. Then in 2010 Ann’s mum, Sylvia became ill. Once again, she devoted all of her time to caring for her until her passing.

Ann’s whole life was about her family – nothing was ever too much as far as her family were concerned. She was the most loving, caring and generous person anyone could ever meet. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Until we meet again…

The Wright family

Ann’s family would like to say a special thank you for all of the beautiful floral tributes, and the generous £342.60 raised for Sobell House Hospice Charity at her funeral.


KATHLEEN JONES (née Williams) 1928 – 2015

Kathy was born in May 1928 in Wales on her grandparents’ farm outside Welshpool; she was youngest of four (two sisters, Peggy & Dorothy and a brother, Lloyd). The family lived in Aberystwyth and her father, Robert Williams, who worked on the railway, died when she was 5. Her mother, Margaret, carried on dressmaking and renting out rooms in the summer to make a living, shipping the children to the farm for the holidays. This is where her mother met Reg Wellington, who became the children’s step-father; the family then moved to Gloucester.

Kathy than met a lad called Tony Jones at the church youth club that formed in their area during the war. They became boyfriend / girlfriend from the age of 13. it started as a love / hate
relationship – she wouldn’t go out with him at first because he was too fat, and he gave her a bar of soap so that she could get rid of her freckles. They were only separated by Tony’s death 72 years later.

When Kathy left school she trained and became a hairdresser and by the time Tony had returned from military service she had her own business which, for a 19 year old woman in those times, showed enterprise and determination.

They married in 1949 and in 1950 they had their first son. The Police Force at that time didn’t take kindly to wives working, and with Robert’s birth, Kathy gave up her business and became an at-home mother. Shortly after that they moved to Filton, Bristol. ln 1953 Kathy became ill with tuberculosis which necessitated her being separated from her new family. She was hospitalised for six months and kept in isolation which must have been particularly heart-breaking for a new mother. The following year, in 1954, they moved to Ebley in Stroud. Later in their time at Ebley, Kathy once again took up part-time work as a hairdresser.

Kathy thought that family was very important and regular family parties were hosted at their Ebley home; music was always the theme. One lasting memory was at the time Frankie Vaughn’s recording of ‘Green Door’ was in the charts – “we had Dad singing the role of Frankie Vaughn. Mum and her sisters, Peggy and Dorothy, were singing the part of the Kaye sisters, Peggy’s husband, Stan, was on the piano. I know most children would cringe at seeing their parents doing this but it really was very good. Both Mum and Dad had good singing voices and Stan was a professional pianist.”

Another memory of this time was when Mum had a win of a couple of hundred pounds on the premium bonds. This was a substantial sum at the time but she insisted that all of her family should benefit and she gave gifts of premium bonds to all of her family which included many far-flung relatives in Wales.

in 1962 they moved to Gloucester, where in 1963 they had a daughter, Suzanne, and then in 1964 another son, Paul. Then, in 1966, they moved to Didcot because of Tony’s promotion.

My lasting memory of my mother whilst l lived at home in the 1950s and 1960s was that she was a deeply loving person who considered her family as the axis of her life. It should also be said that Mum and Dad made a very glamorous couple who were locally the centre of social life in the 50s, 60s and 70s, arranging so many events and balls. She was also very active in supporting Dad’s charity fund-raising with Round Table, the Lions and Rotary, herself in Inner Wheel, becoming President for a year. It also should be noted that Dad had two very successful careers which he would not have thought possible without the close support of Mum. They continued to like their music, joining Brize Norton Singers and, in later years, the church choir.

The Jones family



A celebration for the life of Sonia White was held at the Chilterns Crematorium on Friday, 13th November 2015.

Sonia was born in Sheffield in 1937 and came to Oxford to train and work as a radiographer. There she met and married Derek and in 1963 moved into the newly completed ‘Wychwood’ with her young family Clare and William, who was only a few weeks old. During the ’70s she was very active as a volunteer at Holyrood. Cairns were introduced into the family when Clare was given a puppy as a young child. When the children left home and Sonia had more time, she became very involved in showing later cairns, travelling many miles to attend shows and making many very good friends. She also bred several litters of puppies and served on the committee of the Southern Cairn Club for many years. Until she had to be admitted to a nursing home due to a long illness, she was the first point of contact for people seeking a cairn puppy as she kept the club’s puppy list. It was her wish that donations in her memory go to Cairn Terrier Relief Fund.

Sonia lived in South Leigh until July 2007 when she moved to a bungalow in Haddenham to be closer to her two children and five grandchildren.

Diana Brown


JENNIFER ANN COOK – 22.09.1929 – 20.07.2013

Jenny Was Born in London on 22nd September 1929, depending on which was the more fashionable at any one time it was either Fulham or Chelsea! The family moved
to Coventry, surviving the air raids during the war, and then on to Oxford.

At an early age she developed a keen interest in ballet, something that stayed with her all of her life, taking great delight in watching ballet and musicals whenever she could. As a young girl, she was so proud to have been invited to Downing Street to receive an award for her dancing achievements. A poignant moment for her daughter was coming across her ballet shoes recently from all those years ago.

Working in her father’s electrical shop on the Cowley Road, Jenny was spotted by a handsome army officer who drove up and down in the ‘company’ Land Rover with Roy, his Alsatian dog, at his side. The romance with her future husband had begun.

Married on 14th September 1957, she became Jennifer Cook; their son Chris was born the following year followed three years later by a daughter, Elizabeth.

When her husband left the army they moved to a large farmhouse enjoying the countryside and bringing up the children in a superb environment. This came to an end all too soon with a move to an apartment in Headington and a period of financial hardship. Jenny went back to work for Shellmex & BP as a secretary, firstly in Oxford and later in Knightsbridge, London, balancing a full time job with looking after the children. It was while working in London that she became ‘familiar’ with a certain shop. She would visit Harrods many times later in her life, disappearing to make her own way there by taxi and bus. Getting older and being less than fully mobile was not going to stop her!
After a few years they moved to a new home in Kidlington, the first they owned themselves, followed by a move to a house, complete with swimming pool which she loved, in Kirtlington. Many happy years were spent here with her grandchildren and friends. Unfortunately, it was here that her beloved husband, John, died after a two year illness.

Jenny remained In Kirtlington for a while but decided to move on, firstly to Bladon, before finally settling in South Leigh. This was a place she loved, making many friends among the small community around here. So much so that she kept one wish, that her husband’s ashes be buried with hers in the churchyard. This was done on the 14th September 2013, their wedding anniversary.

Despite becoming more frail and finding it difficult to get around her mind was that of someone 50 years younger. She still insisted on weekly trips to the hairdresser, enjoyed her manicures and never went out looking anything less than her best. Even in the last months of her life she would frustrate her children by doing something they couldn’t… read a restaurant menu without glasses! She kept as active as she could spending time at her younger brother, Rob’s house with whom she was always very close. She dined around the village, visited her son in Devon and still enjoyed going shopping with her daughter. Jenny made many friends in the village and was always interested in village life. She loved the view of the Church from her window and always enjoyed Christmas time at the Church.

Jenny suffered so much in her final years with various different illnesses but her zest for life and her tenacity was to be admired. She was never going to let an illness prevent her from doing what she wanted. She will be sadly missed but fondly remembered by so many.

Thank you to so many in South Leigh who made her life so full of fun and who helped out whenever she needed anything. It will always be greatly appreciated by her family.

Liz McCarthy

ANTHONY CHARLES JONES – 28.10.1928 – 08.06.2013

Tony Jones, a former Oxfordshire police officer who was born in Gloucestershire, was assigned to Didcot when he first moved to the county in 1966 after joining Berkshire Constabulary as a Chief Inspector from the Gloucestershire force.

His time there coincided with the new police station in Mereland Road being built in the late 1960s. In 1968 five forces were merged to create Thames Valley Police and about three years later Mr. Jones was promoted to the rank of Superintendent and moved to Milton Keynes. The town was undergoing its expansion at the time.

In the mid-1970s, after his father Herbert died, Tony moved to Witney so he could be closer to his mother. He remained in Witney until he retired from the police in 1978 and became a private security consultant for Sunlight Service Group.

After three years he was promoted and became a director of the company, where he remained until 1993 when he retired for a second time.

Tony won a scholarship to the Crypt Grammar School and was then accepted to go to Durham University, but before going to Durham he was called up for National Service in the Royal Gloucester Regiment and spent 18 months in Jamaica.

When he returned in 1949 he decided not to go to university and joined Gloucestershire Constabulary instead. In the same year he married Kathy Williams, who he had first met at Sunday School when they were 13 years old. Tony was a keen sports fan and played cricket and rugby for the police.

In his retirement, Tony was involved in Witney Rotary Club and helped to organise debating competitions for local schools. He died in Sobell House Hospice and is survived by his wife, his three children Robert, Paul and Suzanne, and two grandchildren.

Tony’s daughter, Suzanne, recounts one of her father’s early memories of being a policeman:

After I had been in the Police force for a short time (approximately 1949), I received a call to a Catholic Church that a bomb had been found. In those days I had a bicycle to get to and from incidents and there were no Police radios, just the Police call boxes. I cycled to the location of the reported bomb and examined it. It looked like a bomb to me, so I went to the nearest Police call box, not too far from the location and spoke to the desk sergeant (he was a real old school sergeant). He said to bring it into the station. With trepidation I took the bomb and put it in the bicycle basket and cycled as quickly as I could through Gloucester to the Police station. When I got to the station, I took it in and handed it to the desk sergeant. He took it and placed it in his drawer and said he would call bomb disposal. After a few days a bomb disposal person turned up (bomb disposal were quite busy shortly after the war) and they confirmed that it was a live bomb and took it away to carry out a controlled explosion. Clearly no Health & Safety in those days!


LES KEW – 26.11.1931 – 06.11.2012

Les was born in one of the cottages (burnt down many years ago) in Bonds Lane, South Leigh on 26th November 1931 the eldest son of Fred & Ida Kew. His early childhood was spent at number 69 Church End playing on the Green, which was full of elm trees, with his best mates Alan Claridge, Peter Smith, & Chris Tipping. They all went to the National School, now the village hall. At 11 years old he was issued with a bicycle to cycle to the Batts School in Witney. Les hated school and played up his Mum so much that she had to cycle to Witney every afternoon to make sure he came out. He was terrified of being kept in. Les & Alan would rush home as fast they could. They cycled to & from school in all weathers. Les & Alan left school aged 14 years during a very cold winter. They went to work for Teddy Mawle at Church Farm and Rene, their sister remembers seeing them going up the lane on a trailer. Later Alan moved to Portsmouth but Les stayed working on the Mawle farm for 51 years. Les met Eileen when her father came to work at Church Farm and live at 73 Church End. Although younger than Les they fell in love and were married in 1957 and moved into 66 Church End. Sadly, they never had a family. Les was very happy at Church End and loved to chatter to everyone especially Jean & Harry Haley.

Les loved the church and was a bell ringer in the days of Fred Keen. The highlight of their year was the ringing on New Year’s Eve. They would spend the evening in the Mason Arms, then go up to church and wait for Eileen’s signal who was listening for Big Ben on the radio, to start ringing; a tale he loved to tell.

Les & Eileen later moved into Lymbrook Close with the boxer dog they loved so much and were very happy there.

Les always reckoned he couldn’t even make a cup of tea, hence his acceptance from anyone who offered to make him one! What he did do well was mow the grass around the bench left in memory of Irene which he spent many an hour sitting on, passing the time with all those who went by. He greeted you with “It’s lovely to see you” and if you told him some juicy gossip would turn the air blue with “Well I’m b*****!”

Les was devastated when Eileen died suddenly in January 2008. He was very lonely and became depressed and never really got over his loss. A few years later he began to suffer with dementia and eventually moved to Witney to be near his younger brother Pete. Following a nasty fall in which he broke his hip, he stayed in Witney hospital for a short time and when he needed 24 hour care he went to stay at Longlands Nursing Home. The staff looked after him wonderfully well and that’s where his life ended. He is with his beloved Eileen again which was what he wanted. God Bless you Les.

SUSAN MARY HOLLY (OSMUNDSON) – 16.04.1952 – 27.08.2012

Sue was born on 16th, April 1952 in Weymouth, Dorset but in Aug 1953 the family moved to Dorchester, Dorset where Sue was to spend her formative years. She attended Dorchester Grammar School for Girls where she gained A levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths which laid the way for her career in science. In 1970 she went to university in London to read Nutrition at Queen Elizabeth College. The Head of the Department of Nutrition at that time was Prof. John Yudkin, an internationally famous nutritionist who exposed the dangers of white sugar which he called the “white death”. A modest man, who had a personalised number plate of ‘NUT 1’ the significance of which might have escaped other road users when he made an unexpected manoeuvre!

When Sue graduated she took the first step on a long career in science and joined the Department of Physiology at Chelsea College, another constituent college of the University of London, as a Junior Lab Technician. Here she was involved in undergraduate laboratory teaching and where she worked in the histology lab under the wing of Sue Barker, a trained histology technician, with whom she formed a lifelong friendship.

The Physiology Department at Chelsea College was largely focused on Human Physiology under the leadership of Prof. Rainer Goldsmith and Chief Technician John Thynne. Sue’s talent for organisation was soon recognised and she was promoted to senior technician responsible for mounting the undergraduate practical teaching classes and looking after the equipment used in Human Physiology. The Human Physiology research was not solely lab-based but involved an Antarctica Expedition, which Sue didn’t go on, and also an investigation into the fitness of firemen, a study which Sue eagerly participated in!

Outside of work, Sue became an adult education tutor for the London Borough of Ealing running weekly evening classes for adults with a range of learning difficulties. She had by this time already become computer literate and was able to get her students to use basic word processing as part of their education. Sue was cycling to Chelsea College from her flat in Ealing so was quite fit and she encouraged her students, some of whom had minor physical disabilities as well as their learning difficulties, to participate in the Ealing Fun Run where she would dress up in such things as a pussy cat costume and jog round with her students. Despite a responsible day job, Sue managed to continue in this role as adult education tutor for over seven years. Her dedication to this work was just one example of her commitment to helping others and her belief in making a useful contribution to Society.

But her talents didn’t stop there it was around this time that she ventured into car maintenance having done an evening class in it so she could service the mini she owned at the time. Later she went on to do a course in upholstery and many pieces of furniture in her house benefited from the skills she acquired during that course. She also became an accomplished DIY person installing a new kitchen and bathroom in her newly purchased flat in West Ealing.

Although Sue had met Malcolm while she was studying for her degree at Queen Elizabeth College where he worked, it wasn’t until 1985 that they met again at the time of the merger with King’s College London and Chelsea College. Her career moved more and more towards the admin. side over the next two years and she became responsible for the running of the Biomedical Sciences site at Kensington involving the departments of Physiology and Physiotherapy.

1998 saw the official merger of the United Medical Schools of Guy’s and St. Thomas’s with King’s College London. Obviously, prior to this date a huge amount of planning had gone on which Sue was heavily involved in. Not only was a new technical staff structure required which consisted of electronics workshops, mechanical workshops, photography units, stores, research and teaching laboratories but it also required a large new research and teaching building to be built on the Guy’s Campus and the complete refurbishment of three existing buildings. She played a key role in the subsequent moves of staff and equipment from the other sites that King’s College occupied into the new accommodation at the Guy’s Campus.

Anyone who has experienced such mergers will be well aware of the personnel issues that arise and Sue was able to use her innate sense of fairness and tact in dealing with some of these issues as they arose. I think all that knew her in work mode would agree that she was a forceful character who knew exactly what she was aiming for in any particular situation and was not afraid to speak her mind even if at times she was ‘swimming against the tide’ as someone described it recently – the annoying thing is she was right most of the time anyway!

Sue had always had the idea in the back of her mind that she would leave London where she had been for over thirty years and return to a rural or seaside location. When she saw the post advertised for an Administrator in the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at the Radcliffe Infirmary in 2003 she finally grasped the nettle and applied, determined at last to make the move away from London. Her considerable experience with mergers, physical moves of staff and equipment, and running large groups of staff and buildings with financial and personnel aspects stood her in good stead for her new role.

The next few years saw the Department expand from a handful of staff initially to more than 120 under the leadership of Prof. David Kerr, someone Sue had an enormous respect for and with whom she formed an excellent working relationship. Another move was just around the corner when the Department moved from the Radcliffe Infirmary to a brand new research building on the Old Road Campus. But things were to change yet again when at the end of 2010 she was asked to become project director for the move of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology from London, where it was associated with Imperial College, to Oxford University. After much deliberation she decided it was something she would like to do and accepted the role knowing she had the appropriate background to deal with any issues that might arise. It was no more than two months after taking on the role that she was diagnosed with breast cancer but Sue being Sue, this did not deter her and she continued to work between sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It was tragic that she was unable to complete the task and see all the planning she had been involved in come to fruition.

I have omitted a number of other areas where Sue excelled such as cooking, gardening, tapestry, water colour painting and perhaps concentrated too much on her career. But although she was talented in so many other things it was in her work that she truly excelled and which she enjoyed so much. Many of you will have fond memories of her sometimes wicked sense of humour, her kindness and willingness to help others and her ability to see a solution to every problem. She enjoyed the challenge of setting up systems, something at which she excelled, to ensure the smooth running of departments whether that from a financial perspective, to cover personnel issues or health and safety – yet another area where she had considerable expertise.

Sue and Malcolm have been together since 1987. On the 1st August this year they became husband and wife and shared their wonderful wedding day with friends and family in a truly special day on which Sue was so happy.

All of us have been the richer for knowing Sue and the world will be a sadder place now she is gone.

Malcolm D. Osmundson


HAZEL ELIZABETH JOAN COLLETT – 05.03.1930 – 18.03.2012

Hazel was born at Church end on 5th March, 1930 – the third child of the late Steve and Betty Claridge. She went to South Leigh School, which is now the village hall, for primary schooling and then on to the Batts School, Witney. After leaving school, she worked at Compton Webb Headress – makers of hats and caps for the military police – for many years.

Hazel met her late husband, Les, while she was friendly with Gwyne Batt whose father had a friend called George Scanlon. George married Gwyne and Les married Hazel and they all stayed friends.

Hazel lost her father at 9.30am on Sunday, 8th February, 1955, from a thrombosis.

Hazel lost her long fight on 18th March, 2012 – also a Sunday and at the same time of day and due to the same cause.

Hazel’s first son, Martin, was born on 30th June, 1957 and Michael followed on 1st June, 1959. The family moved to Eynsham for five years and then returned to South leigh when the family home, ‘Mandalay’, was built in 1964. It was a normal family life until both Les and Hazel were involved in a very serious road accident which would dramatically change their lives. Before surgery after the accident, Hazel said to her sons: “Don’t be late for work in the morning. There’s plenty in the fridge for your sandwiches!” That was typical of her.

One of Hazel’s most important assets was her bicycle. She was always pedalling off to work or to see family or friends. She kept it in the shed until quite recently, hoping that one day she would be able to ride it again.

The hospital staff said that it was her will power that got her through and that she always tried to stay cheerful. She was determined to get out of hospital for father’s works Christmas party and she did, even though it toook five men to get her there!

That’s the reason she kept so many friends for so long. Hazel had quite a few life-long friends like Sylvia Maycock, Florey Probhets and Joan Honour, who moved to Australia when she was twelve but still exchanged letters, cards and presents. She had many more friends – people she met during her stays in hospital over thirty years ago and more recently peopple she met on her holiday trips with Les to Europe after he had retired. Hazel was always grateful to friends and neighbours who would pop in to see her and was also glad to see any children and would always have some sweets or chocolate in the cupboard. One of her closest friends was Debbie Willis, her District Nurse.

Hazel missed Les greatly. She was a wonderful wife to him and no one could wish for a better and braver mother. After her troubled times she is now back with Les and we hope that she rests in peace and we thank her for all she’s done for Father, for us and for others.

Martin & Michael Collett.


Martin and Michael would like to give many thanks to all who sent letters, cards and best wishes on their mother’s sudden passing in March and also to all who helped and attended the Remembrance Service and Cremation and helped at the village hall afterwards. We are also very grateful for all the generous donations which totalled over £600 to be shared between the church and the village hall which were an important part of their mother’s life.


EVELYN BOOT – 1933 – 23rd February 2012

Evelyn was born in Yeovil in 1933, daughter of John and Evelyn Sedgman and older sister to John Philip. During the war years there were frequent visits to the air raid shelter in the garden, and Evelyn was insistent that the two family cats joined the family in the safety of the air shelter. She was never to be without cats after that.

She was a musical child and continued to play the piano right through her life, both for her own pleasure and the entertainment of others. She was well known for her carol singing parties. She was church organist at Honiley (Warwickshire) then Beenham (Berkshire) for many years and combined her love of music with her enjoyment of children by being in charge of the choir too.

She married, and had 3 daughters, Annemarie, Cherry and Suky in 1958, 1961 and 1962 respectively. Bringing up three girls as a constantly mobile service wife was a challenge, which she met with her usual indomitable spirit. She much enjoyed travelling to such places as Canada, Gibraltar, Malta, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Hong Kong.

She met Don Boot in the early 1970s. She had begun to work again after the end of her first marriage in order to help support the children. When she started with Rank Hovis McDougall in Exeter her boss was Don. They married in 1973 and it was an affair of the heart that never ended.

Evelyn had a strong sense of public duty, and had a full career as a voluntary worker especially with the WRVS. She was very active within the WRVS (hospitals and prisons), and after that she was a Trustee of Greensleeves Care Homes – she took a very keen interest in the standards of care and dignity in the homes which she visited regularly, often taking one of the bassets with her, finding that the dogs were great ice breakers and the presence of a dog a great source of cheer to many residents.

Evelyn delivered Meals on Wheels for years becoming the Area Director. She was very hands on when it came to her involvement with the various charities she was involved with, and brought a really human touch to what she did.

Evelyn was also the area contact point for Basset Rescue – and periodically kept them herself!! She knew that great homes and owners came in all different shapes and sizes, judging each rehoming as assiduously as a match-making service!

Evelyn had a sporty dash. Skiing and scuba diving (which she took up in her 50’s) and driving an open topped yellow sports car with classical music blaring – she was hard to miss! Latterly her interests ranged from needle point, to crosswords, Sudoku and bridge.

Many people have spoken of her courage during six years of suffering various cancers and treatments. She refused to be pessimistic, and she and Don continued to travel extensively between treatments. Indeed, they had returned from a cruise little more than a month before her final illness.

Evelyn was a wonderful wife, mother, and Grandma.

She died peacefully at home in South Leigh on 23rd February 2012.

PETER WILSON, JP, FRICS – 20.05.1927 – 29.01.2012

Peter was born on 28th May 1927, the only son of Bert and Kit Wilson. The family home at that time was in Bampton, but before his schooling began they had moved to their own home in Oxford.

After primary school Peter went to Southfield School, now known as Oxford Academy and stayed there until he left at the age of sixteen. He had a brief spell with the Police Force as a civilian clerk but soon realised that this was not the career for him. He joined James Style and Whitlock as an estate agent’s clerk and soon recognised that this was the career that he wanted to follow. However his plans had to be put on hold when he was called up in 1945 to serve in the Royal Navy. He served on H.M.S.Obdurate, an “O” Class destroyer, as a Leading Supply Assistant before transferring to H.M.S. Victory where he was employed on Naval Pay Registers and assessing War Gratuities and Post War Credits. At the end of his service his employment record card states “An exceptionally keen and industrious young rating who will make a good job of anything he is given to do”.

He was now free to resume his career and he began studying for his professional qualifications by attending the College of Estate Management in London. There he attained the first part of the Chartered Surveyor’s exams. and in 1951 he completed his finals by a correspondence course and became a fully qualified Chartered Surveyor. He also became a member of the Incorporated Society of Valuers and Auctioneers (ISVA). Later in his career he was elected a Council member of the ISVA and became Chairman of their Professional Practice Committee.

He formed his own Company, Peter W. Wilson and Co. in 1954 in St. Aldate’s, Oxford before moving to St. Michael’s Street and over the following years he had offices in Witney and briefly in Kidlington and Didcot. In the Witney area he worked closely with house builders J.A. Pye and Fisher and Townsend as their selling agent and sold many of the newly built houses in Early and Vanner Road, Woodlands Road, Queen Emma’s Dyke and the Cogges Estate.

Peter was appointed as a Justice of the Peace in 1975 and subsequently became Chairman of the Bench in Witney. He was elected to the Council of the Magistrate’s Association and became a member of the Sentencing of Offenders Committee and served until his compulsory retirement on his 70th birthday.

Locally, he was a Governor of Henry Box School and the newly formed Queen Emma’s Dyke School, Chairman of Witney Education Foundation and a member of Witney Traffic Advisory Committee. He was a Past Master of the Windrush Lodge of Freemasons and was member of the Lodge for over 50 years.

There was sadness in Peter’s life when in 1967 Jacquie, his wife of 11 years and mother of Robert, Simon and William (Peter) passed away following a long history of breast cancer. However, in 1968 after a whirlwind romance he and Jane were married in Liverpool and Charles and Liz completed the family in 1969 and 1972 respectively.

Peter had many hobbies which included ballroom dancing, music, photography, gardening, picture framing and particularly woodwork. He retired from Estate Agency in 1979 and together with Jane they were able to enjoy their passion for travel worldwide and also extensively in Europe with their motorcaravan.

In 1992 he and Jane moved from Witney to High Cogges and there they enjoyed their home and the lovely countryside.

In June 2009 Peter had a major stroke and was admitted to the John Radcliffe Hospital where Parkinson’s disease was also diagnosed. Both of these conditions are very debilitating and sadly he was not able to return home to live but he became a resident at Middletown Care Home, Hailey where he was well looked after by all of the staff. He passed away peacefully on the 29th January, 2012.

JOAN LEE (née Holland) – 29.10.1921 – 06.03.2011

Formerly of 76 Station Road, South Leigh, Joan Lee (née Holland) died peacfully in her sleep. Joan was born in Exeter and grew up in the small village of Kenn, near Kennford in Devon. She met her first husband, Jack Moody, while in the WRAF. She held the position of corporal and later became an NCO. She is one of the few that survived diptheria. RAF Little Rissington became their home and they had two sons, Derek and Steve. Later, they moved to North Lodge at Eynsham Hall, North Leigh and worked on the estate for Michael Mason. Joan was a member of the Royal British Legion and St. John Ambulance. Sadly, Jack died suddenly and Joan then became landlady of the Mason Arms in South Leigh where she married Jackie Lee and had a daughter, Lindy. Her time in South Leigh is best told in her own words, taken from Phyllis Broome’s ‘South Leigh Remembered’.

In 1963, I was asked by Michael Mason, who owned the property as well as most of the land around South Leigh, if I could come to manage the Mason Arms after Mrs. Hopkins left for Church End, and keep the licence running until a new landlord could be found.
I agreed to give it a try, although I had never tapped a barrel or used an optic. The premises were very dilapidated with no inside toilets or hot water. There were coal fires to heat the water and keep us warm. We did have electric light, but only one tap in the kitchen. There were rats in the cellar and in the loft and also a ghost, a cavalier, who used to haunt us at full moon. I never actually saw him myself. He disappeared when the restoration work was carried out. Probably he met the White Lady on the bridge at Margery Cross and lived happily ever after. I was relieved of my duties in 1967 when Tom Litt took over as landlord.

Meanwhile I met and married my best customer and returned to South Leigh with our six-month old daughter in April, 1967. I was lucky to have good neighbours who helped me cope.

In May 1967, I took the position of postmistress at South Leigh from Alice Green. After two days’ training, I was left with a book of rules and one hundred and twenty pounds cash and stock to pay pensions. The shop shelves were almost bare and the itemised goods totalled four pounds twelve shillings plus a hundredweight of coal worth thirteen shillings and three pence. I had a display and stock freezer installed and the children rushed to buy ice creams and lollys. I was able to have bread and cakes daily on a sale or return basis, also Brazil’s pies, bacon etc.

Gradually, the stock increased and, you name it, I could supply it from elastic to tintacks, paraffin and even fireworks around Hallowe’en. I had the constant worry of remembering who was related to which customer and who was suffering from what illness, and to sympathise with each individual’s sufferings.

The shop was the place to meet for friends from different parts of the village! Messages were left for me to relate if they failed to turn up and my telephone was in constant use; not many households had their own ‘phone in the ’60s.

Holyrood House was then occupied by private patients whose daily walk to the shop provided them with exercise, and I knew which cigarettes etc. they smoked. Also, Basildon Bond notepaper was in great demand. I had a lady who liked Fry’s chocolate crème bars and I called another ‘Lady Liquourice’. Often, they had no cash so I “booked” it and the Welfare Department came down and paid. It saved having a scene amid the customers and they went happily away with a Mars Bar!

One day the MP, John Patten, came to ask if I sold ladies’ tights. I did, so he returned with his wife whose tights had laddered and she was able to change in my toilet and so could keep her luncheon date at the Mason Arms. Tom Litt was still the landlord at that time. He was a great neighbour and often when they had a panic on at the pub he would raid my freezer for supplies to satisfy the unexpected requests of customers. At first, I used to open on Sunday mornings to keep customers away from the back door. One of my regular Sunday shoppers was Richard Branson. He came to buy breakfast for his overnight visitors – bacon, eggs, suasages, coffee, milk and sugar headed his list. He lived at the Old Chapel and came at weekends as a retreat from his recording studio at Wychwood.

The shop and post office closed in 1987 when I retired.

Joan nursed her second husband, Jackie Lee, until his death in 1991. Having more time, she was able to become an active member of the W.I. She enjoyed her garden, village events and the Church, where she was on the PCC. Due to a stroke she moved to Middletown Grange Nursing Home in Hailey where she spent the last years of her life.

RENÉE HARRIS – 27.03.1925 – 12.01.2011

Renée lived in the village for about 40 years, the latter part at Church End until she moved to North Leigh about 10 or 12 years ago.


Mollie Gillham, who died in January 2011, lived at Box Cottage, Station Road. She leaves Maurice and her sons.

She was the first person that John and Sheila Long met when they moved to South Leigh in 1983:-

Mollie and Tim were the first people we met; they called to introduce themselves and to see if there was anything with which we needed help.

Mollie was on the church PCC for a couple of years, and for over twenty years she met with a group of friends at Oxford Cathedral where they embroidered new vestments, alter cloths and other Church linen. Her work is on display at a couple of places, Bath Abbey being one of them.

John & Sheila Long.

SYLVIA DOREEN MAYCOCK (née Clack) – 18.12.1926 – 16.12.2010

Sylvia was born in South Leigh in a farm cottage behind the Manor House which is no longer there. Her mother and grandmother were born in the village too. She attended infant and primary school in what is now the village hall accompanied by her closest friend, Hazel Claridge (now Collett), a friendship which was to last a lifetime. From there they went to the Batt School in Witney by bicycle. Sylvia left school at 15 and began work at Cook & Boggis, a haberdashery store in Witney (where Waterstones is now) which burnt down in the 1960s. This was a very appropriate job for Sylvia because she was brilliant at sewing and needlework. She used this great skill to enrich village life by making fabulous Easter bonnets for the church services and all manner of dresses for the family.

She met a good looking paratrooper called Roy at a dance in North Leigh and they married in 1947. They began their married life at Homan’s Farm where Ann, Pauline and Dawn were born, then moved to North Leigh for a short time and then back to 4, Lymbrook Close where Carole was born. Sadly Roy died in 1967, leaving Sylvia to raise three daughters without any government assistance which was unavailable then to someone young enough to work. She worked at Holyrood House when it was a convent and continued working there when it was a private psychiatric hospital. When Holyrood closed, Sylvia went on to clean for families in the village. She would ride her bike to The Glebe, The Manor, Tarwood House, and The Chapel and remained really good friends with all these families when they moved on to new homes. Over the years she became a good friend to many in the village for whom she baby sat. Sylvia worked very hard and was very kind hearted and caring. She waited at her gate for the children to return from school so that she could hear all about their day. She was bright, inquisitive and had a real thirst for knowledge. In a different era she would have done well at university. She had a great sense of humour and a mischievous twinkle in her eye. She was devoted to her family and they to her. She was the matriarch and attached great importance to family life, keeping up the tradition of Sunday tea followed by the men playing cards. A void has been left in the village now Sylvia has gone.


It is with sadness we have to report the death of Maggie Enders formally of High Cogges. We send our condolences to Penny and her family.

HELEN DAVISON ~ August 1918 – March 2010

Helen Davison (Bill) died at the age of 91, after being unwell since Christmas, and in the John Radcliffe Hospital since mid-January. She moved to Maidstone, to be near her son and his family, and died shortly afterwards. She was one of the oldest people in the village, and although a relatively private and independent lady, her presence at village events will be missed. She was a very long-term member of the South Leigh WI, and enjoyed meetings until she was 90, when her increasing frailty meant that she was unable to join her friends there.

Helen moved to South Leigh with her husband, son, and mother, in 1955. After she finished work as a computer programmer, she concentrated on her more traditional skills. Many people will remember the Easter biscuits, “petit fours”, and mince pies that she made by the dozen, and then distributed up and down Chapel Road, and beyond. Her gardening was very skilful, and she got lots of pleasure from her greenhouse. Her roses falling over our wall are some of the best flowers in our garden. But it was not just traditional skills that she had acquired. She swept her own chimney until she was in her eighties; when her fan broke, she took it to bits, mended it, and put it back together again. This was typical of her independence and resilience.

She spent many of her later years caring for a number of relatives as they became more frail. She was also a very kind friend to young friends as well as older ones, generous with her time, interest and activity. She was also extraordinarily tolerant of other people’s life-styles and beliefs, and was willing to live-and-let-live, even when she did or thought differently herself -she always joked about our shared trips to the polling booth canceling each other out. She was an ideal neighbour, and is much missed.

She was enthusiastic about her work as a computer programmer, and continued to work in Oxford until her husband’s failing health prompted her to retire in 1981. She then took to more traditional pursuits. Her cooking and baking skills, learned at her aunt’s knee in her Yorkshire summer holidays, were first rate, whether it was roast beef, a Madeira cake, or moussaka. She often took home more than one prize from the Vegetable and Produce Show. Many people will remember the Easter biscuits, marzipan, and mince pies that she made by the dozen, and then distributed up and down Chapel Road, and beyond. Her gardening was very skilful, and she got lots of pleasure from her greenhouse. Her roses falling over our wall are some of the best flowers in our garden.

Joan Hawton.

PERCY MAISEY ~ July 1922 – May 2009

A High Cogges resident for 36 years, Percy passed away on 21st May 2009.

He will be sadly missed by local residents. Those who knew him in High Cogges will remember chatting to him and his wife, Doris, at the gate to their bungalow on sunny days when he was out enjoying his large garden and impressive greenhouse. Percy always seemed to be surrounded by magnificent geraniums and fuchias he so proudly grew. He was a keen bowler, and followed many sporting events on his TV with great enthusiasm.

Percy was born in Bladon. At the age of 17 he became a carpenter and joiner at Knowles and Sons where he remained until retirement at the age of 65. He met his wife, Doris, at a dance in 1945 in Hanborough, which marked the beginning of a long and happy marriage. Doris and Percy lived at Windmill Nurseries for many years, with their two children Wendy and Pete, running the nursery alongside his job. Upon retirement 36 years ago, Doris and Percy moved to High Cogges.

Our thoughts are with Doris and her family.

GEORGE CARTER ~ 3rd March, 1931 – 4th March, 2009

It is with great sadness that we report that George Carter of 25 Lymbrook Close died on 4th March, 2009 in the Churchill Hospital, Oxford.

JANET HARRIS ~ 31st January, 1934 – 23rd February, 2009

Janet was born in Blockley, Gloucestershire and moved to Eynsham at a young age where she met her husband to be, Mervyn, at Infant School. Mervyn & Janet married in 1953 and lived in various properties in Eynsham where Mervyn, along with his brother Ken, ran the local Butcher’s shop. Mervyn & Janet had 4 children, Sarah, Liz, Louise and Mervyn and the family moved to Homans Farm, South Leigh in 1974 where many of their happiest years were spent. Louise & family took over Homans Farm in 1996 with Janet & Mervyn moving to Witney and eventually back to Eynsham in 2003. Unfortunately, Janet’s ill health started to show soon after and she battled bravely against the cruel onset of Alzheimer’s disease with loving care from her family.

Janet died peacefully at home with her family around her on 23rd February, 2009. A dearly loved and devoted wife, Mum & Gran who will be so sadly missed.


Dave Lambourne, 43, died following a motorbike accident at Curbridge on February 3rd, 2008. Dave lived in the house on the corner of Lymbrook Close for a number of years with Lillian until he moved in 2007. He used to play for Witney Rugby Club and has four children – a son and three daughters.

EILEEN KEW ~ 16th August, 1936 – 13th January, 2008

Eileen was born in Evesham, and came with her mother and father to South Leigh to live at 73 Church End, South Leigh. It was here that she met her future husband, Les, when her father worked with him in the surrounding fields.

She then stayed in South Leigh, living at various addresses. When Les and Eileen got married they were taken to the Registry Office by Herbie Green, in his car, which was a big treat!

Les continued to work on the land all his working life. One of his favourite memories was seeing Eileen walking across the fields with their boxer dog taking him his lunch every day, rain or shine.

Eileen had many different jobs including working as a weaver in Walker’s blanket factory, and at Comptons on Newland making hats and helmets. She also had a job at the Swan Laundry on Corn Street.

When Eileen retired she worked as a cleaner at various houses in the village. She particularly enjoyed working for the Raftery family and adored the children.

She enjoyed a lot of things, especially seeing people in the village. She loved her allotment and knitting and would love to chat and catch up on news. She really enjoyed going up the road with Sylvia and Ray for Tuesday coffee morning.

Everybody who knew her said she was a happy lady who was never miserable. She was marvellous with the children in Lymbrook Close, she loved having them around, and always remembered them especially on Halloween when she would leave sweets in bags at the gate for them all.

Eileen and Les celebrated their 50th Anniversary on 16th December, 2007, with a party in the Village Hall for a group of 80-100 guests which was a marvellous occasion and took months of secret preparation.

Eileen began to suffer from ill health and was often in a lot of pain with a back problem, but nobody heard her complain.

Eileen died suddenly in the early hours of Sunday morning, 13th January, 2008.

Jackie Johnson.


As a teenager Irene moved with her family from Evesham for her father to take up a new post working for Ted Mawle on Church Farm.

Irene moved into 73 Church End with her mum and dad and Les’s family lived only a few doors away in number 69.

Irene began her working life, at 14 years of age, with Swann Laundry on Corn Street at that very age, then moving to Walkers Weaving Mill, where she spent most of her working life. As a young woman Irene was “a great beauty”, something which certainly didn’t escape Les’s notice. Les and Irene met on 2nd June 1952, fell in love, and after their marriage on 14th December 1957, appropriately, they moved in to 66 Church End. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary with many of you in the village hall just before Christmas.

Irene was very much a part of this village community – she made friends easily and really enjoyed her coffee mornings with Sylvia Maycock, Ray Brewer, Edith Moody and Sheila Long. She and Les would often support village events such as the flower festivals, harvest supper and car boot sales.

Irene died suddenly at home on 13th January, with Les at her side. She is now buried in the churchyard of St James, next to Les’s parents. In Les’s words, “She was an angel – you could search the world over and never find someone like Irene, I really miss her”.

Karen Wilson.

CHRIS DIACON 1947 – 2007

Chris Diacon was brought up in Sheffield and achieved the status of Head Girl at her school. She excelled both within the classroom and on the sports field and was a Derbyshire Schools discus winner. From 1965-68 she attended Bath College of Education where she studied Home Economics. She also took an active interest in student life and was President of the Students’ Union from 1967-68. With her love of poetry she encouraged friends to accompany her to readings; giving them also a life long interest.

Life was to change for Chris when in May 1966 she met Graham, whom she adored and went on to marry in 1970. She began her teaching career in Ely in 1968, but after marriage moved to the London Borough of Walthamstow where she taught until 1972. They then moved to Preston, Lancs. where she taught in various schools. Chris’ interest was craft but she adapted her teaching to whatever subject was required of her at the time, from craft to cooking and even included a stint of teaching metal work!

Graham and Chris became proud parents to Phil followed by Martin. Then in ’76 they moved to Hamburg where Chris had her hands full looking after a very active young family, which increased to five with the arrival of Tom, Robert and finally a girl, Kate. Chris loved being a mother and was very proud of her children, their activities and achievements.

When they returned to England they came to live in Witney and Chris started teaching at Henry Box in Sept 1983; then in 1988 they moved to High Cogges, which was when I met her. We both turned up at the Village Hall to discuss the re-formation of the South Leigh WI. We hit it off immediately and although we did not meet up that often we could always find plenty to talk about especially after WI meetings, when we sat in the car ‘putting the world to rights’, especially all the changes within the education system.

At meetings I envied the easy way she had of relating the most interesting stories to us, especially of their life in Germany. She particularly enjoyed all the customs of the German Christmas, something the family continued on their return to England.

Chris was a conscientious teacher and took on many roles at the school. Sadly life changed for her with a series of illnesses, but she continued with her teaching when she could. Her final role was as Careers Adviser and she was working hard on this until ill health finally forced her take early retirement in 2000.

Chris was tragically killed in a road accident on 15 November 2007. I shall miss her and her lovely smile and am honoured that she called me ‘my friend’.

We send our sincere condolences to Graham and all her family.

Judith Nunn.


Marjorie Jeffrey, nee Buckingham, died in Mill House, Witney on 13 July 2007 at the age of ninety-eight years.


She was born in Hailey, the oldest of four children born to a farming family. They later moved to Park Farm, Witney (now covered with the houses of Smiths Estate and Deer Park) and Marjorie attended the Grammar School. After leaving school she worked as a secretary in various offices in Witney, Oxford and Kingston Bagpuise.


In 1939 Marjorie married Robert Jeffrey whose family farmed at Barnard Gate. Together they moved to Leicestershire before returning to Green Farm. They had three children, Rosemary, Robert and John, and there are six grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Marjorie’s time was devoted to caring for her husband and children and helping on the farm. She attended church in South Leigh and regularly helped decorate the church with flowers. She also rang the bells for a number of years.

Although her husband, Robert, died in 1974 she continued to live at Green Farm for another 30 years before moving to North Leigh to be cared for by her family.