EXTRAORDINARY LIVES: Mum had so much in common with her playmate, the Queen who she played hide-and-seek with as a young girl
Margaret Chadd, born June 7, 1922, died July 14, 2018, aged 96
By Johnathan and Sam Chadd
Our great-grandfather was appointed Lord Mayor of London in 1933 and, as a girl, Mother spent time at his official residence, Mansion House.
One day she was told that an important lady was coming to tea with her two daughters, and she was to entertain them.
A game of hide-and-seek followed, with one of the little guests, Margaret, managing to get lost in the Court Room. The older girl was Elizabeth.
Yes, the ‘important lady’ was the then Duchess of York and Mother’s playmate would later become the Queen.
In many ways, Mother’s life mirrored that of the Queen. She, too, had four children, and had a great sense of civic duty, serving as a hospital almoner, a magistrate, and working tirelessly for the Red Cross.
She was a superb organiser and a tenacious campaigner — a tour-de-force, basically, although she described herself as ‘just a cog in the wheel making something happen for others’.
Like many of her generation, she was never bored, never idle and never complained — although quick to act for the greater good if she spotted a problem.
A favourite family story was when we went to meet her at her beloved beach hut at Southwold in Suffolk, where she still swam in the sea well into her 80s.
We found her on the promenade, where her electric buggy had come to a halt in a sand drift. Mother was on her mobile to the council. ‘Why haven’t you swept the promenade?’ she was demanding.
Born in 1922, Mother first worked as an almoner at East Grinstead Hospital where the pioneering plastic surgeon, Archibald McIndoe, treated Battle of Britain pilots. Her job was to help ease their passage back into civilian life.
In 1943, the East Grinstead cinema received a direct bomb hit, killing 108. Mother and her colleagues worked for 48 hours, non-stop, helping the survivors and identifying the dead.
After the war, she became almoner to the East Sussex County Council, specialising in end-of-life care. In 1948 she took up the cause of an ex-fighter pilot, Leonard Cheshire, who wanted to turn his large house into a home for the dying. The council rejected it on the grounds that it wasn’t financially viable. What a misjudgment! There are now more than 270 Cheshire Homes in 49 countries.
In 1950, she wed Colonel George Chadd, who’d just left the Army to run the family department store, Chadds, in Lowestoft. Their best man was the future prime minister, Edward Heath, who’d served with our father, and who was also godfather to our eldest brother Christopher.
In 1973, our family suffered a tragedy when Christopher was sailing Heath’s yacht Morning Cloud to Cowes. The boat sank in a storm, and Christopher drowned. He was 23. Exactly two years later, we lost our other brother Timothy, who was then 21 and at Cambridge, after he was hit by a car in France.
Most people would have collapsed under such grief, but not Mother. She once said: ‘I began by asking “Why me?” but then that changed to “Why not me?” Grief is the price of love and therefore worth paying.’
She used her experience to help others, did a counselling course, and launched a Suffolk branch of Cruse, the bereavement support group. Retirement brought more causes, more campaigning and nothing got in her way — not a heart valve operation nor three hip replacements. When snow blocked the roads, she simply dug out her skis to cut across the fields.
Mother’s belief in the value of terminal care never wavered throughout her life and her dream was to open a hospice. Now that is being realised. When completed, the East Coast Hospice will be named after her — a fitting memorial to a formidable lady.
Margaret Chadd, born June 7, 1922, died July 14, 2018, aged 96.
ONE-WAY TICKET TO AN AFRICAN ADVENTURE
By Ingrid Steele and Delia Stokell
Mum was just 22 when she made a momentous decision. It was 1947 and she was working as a nanny in Brighton when she spotted an advertisement in the post office for a passage to South Africa.
The ship departed within days and Mum, who didn’t even have a passport, decided she’d be on it. Armed only with a sense of adventure and the naive confidence of youth, she booked a one-way ticket.
June Morris, born June 1, 1925, died July 26, 2018, aged 93
As a child, she’d always loved elephants — ‘elephants never forget’ was a mantra throughout her life — and here was a chance to see them up close under the African sun.
Born the youngest of nine in Ludlow, Shropshire, Mum’s determination to better herself was formed at an early age.
Her mother came from a wealthy Welsh family but after marrying a ‘commoner’ — a manual worker from Birmingham and a socialist to boot — her parents cut her off and there was very little money. There was even less after her father died when Mum was 12. Following school, she trained as a nurse and worked in Coventry and London during the war.
Mum loved children and became a nanny after the war, but she was always restless and that ship to the southern hemisphere was the opportunity she was looking for.
She had the £100 required by the South African government to settle there but hadn’t banked on quite how much she’d spend on the six-week passage. On arrival in Durban, she had only £50 left and wasn’t permitted to disembark.
A tough few days followed and Mum (pictured) remembered trying to keep warm at night in her lamb-skin coat and sneaking off the ship to find food.
Then she got lucky. The wife of a wealthy landowner arrived at the port in search of a nanny for her three children. Mum got the job and worked for the family at their sugar plantation for six months before resigning to move closer to Durban. There, she met our father Clifford Morris. He was 19 years older to the day and they married in 1950 when mum was 25. Delia and I came along over the next five years.
Mum had put down roots in South Africa but travelled whenever she could, often back to the UK to visit her large family. After our father’s death in 1991, she returned to England, settling in Hereford close to two of her siblings.
Fiercely self-reliant, she lived independently until a fall this year. We hoped that she would enjoy her new life in a supported care environment but it was not to be.
Having lost her mobility and independence, she no longer wished to embrace life and passed away less than three months later — dying, as she had lived, on her own terms.
June Morris, born June 1, 1925, died July 26, 2018, aged 93.
WRESTLING REF WHO WOULDN’T SUBMIT!
By Anne Fletcher
Nothing ever held Barry back in life. Not the TB he had suffered as a child, when he’d be wheeled out from his hospital ward in all weathers for ‘air’ and wake to find snow on his sheets.
Or the accident he had after he was discharged, which caused his right thighbone to stop growing and meant he had to wear a surgical boot for the rest of his life.
Barry Sanderson Fletcher, born September 3, 1935, died May 4, 2018, aged 82
Not even being turned down for his dream job in the RAF because of his disabilities defeated him.
Barry simply changed tack, trained as a chemist, and got on with enriching his own life and that of everyone around him.
He was a commanding officer in Bletchley Air Training Corp, a wonderful pianist and singer, a keen amateur dramatist, and possessed an in-depth knowledge of wine and whisky. But, mostly, he was the best husband and father.
We met in 1958 at technical college in Middlesbrough, where Barry was the first student chairman of the entertainments committee. Our first kiss was backstage at one of his shows.
Three years later we married, spent our honeymoon in Huddersfield and went on to have two sons, Mark and Andrew (and now one precious grandson, Thomas).
We were in our late 30s when an American family moved into our village and set up a wrestling club for boys. Barry immediately became involved, not as a wrestler, but as a referee, and for 25 years we spent every weekend driving to competitions all over the country.
The day he died we were meant to be going on holiday. I’d spent the day packing, but Barry was quiet and went to bed early. The next morning his alarm was ringing. But he had gone.
Barry leaves an enormous hole that no one will ever fill.
Barry Sanderson Fletcher, born September 3, 1935, died May 4, 2018, aged 82.