My mother, Sheila Davies, died peacefully in her sleep at The Old Prebendal House care home, Shipton on January 6, 2022.
Sheila was born in Stockport on February 28, 1925. Her father James Whitehead was a Methodist minister, as was her grandfather, and the family travelled extensively before settling in Exeter where my grandfather became Chairman of the Methodist District. After many enjoyable years at the Maynard school (and enduring the Exeter blitz), Sheila started teacher-training at the Froebel Institute in Roehampton, South London.
With the war over, she started her teaching career in North London, working mainly with infants and primary school children, and where she met my father Allan, a quantity surveyor. My parents were married on July 28, 1951 and settled in Palmers Green, North London. My brother Michael was born in March, 1955 and I followed in July, 1957. In 1962, the family moved to Hatfield in Hertfordshire. In Hatfield, Sheila taught in several local schools – specialising in reading support. She also visited schools throughout Hertfordshire to read poetry to children – it would be hard to imagine a more perfect job for her.
In the early 1980s, my parents retired to Sinnels Field in Shipton. They very quickly realised that they had chosen the perfect location – they made many new friends and loved living in the glorious Cotswold countryside, whilst travelling extensively in Europe and America.
Allan joined Probus, took up bowls and watercolour painting, and became Treasurer of Burford Methodist Church, as well as circuit steward for the Burford area. Sheila joined the Womens Institute in Shipton (where she was President for a year), studied English Literature in evening classes, and took an active part in local walking, flower-arranging and (her favourite) poetry-reading groups. She was able to fully indulge her love of gardening and worked for a while as a guide at Chastleton House. Sheila also played a full part in church life – supporting my father as circuit steward in welcoming new ministers to the area, later becoming a church steward and a core member of the small congregation who looked after the Burford church.
Mother said these ten years in Shipton, until my father died in 1996, were the happiest years of their lives.
Mother lovingly and warmly embraced both my brother Michael’s partner, Gillian, and my wife, Mandy, into her life. She adored them and their children and grandchildren. In her last years, as her health declined Sheila moved into Old Prebendal House where she was able to stay in touch with her friends. She was exceptionally well looked after and formed many new friendships amongst the staff.
A Thanksgiving Service for Sheila was held at Burford Methodist Church on January 18, 2022.
April – May 2022