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Age Concern Twyford & District
Polehampton Close
Twyford
Berkshire
RG10 9RP
0118 934 4040

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Wendy McAndrew

Born March 1946, died March 21st 2017

These words have been adapted from a eulogy written by her daughter, Rachel Sharp.

Wendy was born on the 6th March 1946 at home in North London, the youngest of 3 children. There she spent her childhood, was educated and worked until she met her husband to be, Alex. Married life took them away from London and they moved out to the village of Twyford in the late 1960s then on to Wargrave in the early 70s.

Wendy with grandchild

Alex and Wendy had 4 children, 2 girls and then 2 boys. They were a loving and close family and lived a good life together. Life was spent raising the children, alongside all those usual activities that came with family life.

After years of being at home, and after Wendy‘s youngest child started school, she decided to go into nursing as an auxiliary nurse. Wendy particularly enjoyed this role along with her devotion to raising a family. She nursed the elderly on the wards of Townlands hospital, Henley and Thamsefield Nursing Home.

Later these nursing skills were transferred to her home life with her ailing parents. Wendy would travel to North London several times a week to see her parents. Her love and commitment to her family never faltered. By this time Wendy was a grandma to two little girls, her family was growing!

In 1999 tragedy struck the family. Wendy‘s parents both died 59 days apart. Wendy was very upset, however got some comfort knowing that their time apart was minimal. However as the year came to a close her beloved husband died suddenly. Within 7 months she had suffered 3 losses. This proved to be very difficult for Wendy as she had great difficulty in coming to terms with her loss.

Her loving family stood by her and supported her the best they could and as circumstances allowed. There were many lonely years for Wendy. The loss of her parents and husband had been overwhelming for her.

Then as the year was nearing to a close, life took a change of direction. A burst water pipe in her home meant that Wendy had to leave the family home. She moved in with one of her daughters for a period of time. This was wonderful as it strengthened the family bonds and allowed her to have a period of adjustment which proved to be very positive for her well-being.

Soon after this time Wendy moved in to a small house in the centre of Twyford. She was now living nearer to her daughter and living back in a village that she had fond memories of from her younger years. However the past 16 years of loss and loneliness had taken its toll on Wendy and her family. This is when she found Age Concern Twyford and District.

Wendy with grandchild

Wendy became a member of the Day Centre in Polehampton Close, reluctant at first, but Wendy soon became one of the regular members spending 5 days a week at the Centre!

The family have described the Day Centre and the staff there as a God-sent solution to a very difficult problem. Wendy would attend the Day Centre early in the mornings and be with them until closing in the afternoons; she was always welcomed with open arms, and being of an extremely inquisitive nature, was always engaging in conversations with the staff. "The people at the Day Centre embraced her, they cared for her, and they accepted her and for that we are truly grateful." She would describe her days at the Day Centre with a fondness and enthusiasm that hadn’t been seen for 16 years.

Wendy became very close to another member of the Day Centre, who had suffered a stroke and lost her ability to speak. In spite of this they became good friends, often playing cards together, with Wendy assisting her friend whenever she had difficulty eating or expressing herself.

Her presence at the Day Centre was never a burden on the staff, she relied on routine and needed the regular attendance to give her stability - this became a secure environment to her.

Wendy attended the Day Centre for some 18 months, during which time the family believe were the happiest 18 months since the passing of husband. Her daughter writes that "She finally felt she had a purpose to her day". During that time she saw her family grow and saw her children married and welcomed her 9th grandchild of which she was extremely proud.

Wendy passed away peacefully at home on the 21st March 2017, after struggling with loneliness since that fateful year in 1999. She is now in undoubtedly a better place, resting with her beloved husband and her parents, those people she so sorely missed for all those years.

Wendy is missed by her family and friends, God Bless her and may she now rest in peace.


My life

Alfred Self

empty street
Chediston Street

I was born in the small market town of Halesworth in Suffolk on 22 December 1918, shortly after the end of the First World War. I never knew my father as he was lost during the war and I was raised in fairly poor circumstances by my loving mother with support from the extended family. I had a very happy childhood and remember playing games with friends in the nearby meadows and there was a bowling green behind the Angel Hotel where we would earn sixpence by picking up and polishing the woods for the people playing. I attended Sunday school every week at the local Salvation Army hall which was housed in a tin hut close to where we lived in Chediston Street.

icecream sales on bicycle
Stop me and buy one

I left school at the age of 14yrs and began working as a bell boy in the Angel Hotel. After that I had a variety of jobs including one in the local cinema where I acted as usher and projectionist, showing people to their seats, before operating the projector, which in those days still used a carbon arc lamp. In summer I drove a horse and cart around the local farms collecting blackberries and mushrooms that were sent off to Covent Garden Market. The old horse was so familiar with the route that if I stopped somewhere for food or a drink, it would take itself on to the next farm. Later on I worked for Walls as a 'stop me and buy one' ice cream salesman, on a bicycle with a box on the front. My round included the seaside resort of Southwold which was an 8 mile ride away but well worth the effort as I usually did quite well there.

After I turned 18yrs in 1936 I joined the local Territorial Army unit and attended training each week and went away to training camps once or twice a year.

When war broke out in September 1939 the Territorials were the first to be called up and about a week before war was declared I received my call up notice, with instructions to go immediately to the Suffolk Regiment base at the nearby town of Leisten. From there we were transferred to Bury St. Edmunds where we assembled for training with other TA units before being sent to Belgium as part of the British Expeditionary Force early in 1940, just prior to the retreat to Dunkirk. I was lucky enough to be repatriated a few days before the mass evacuation took place.

On my return I became ill and was hospitalised for several months during which time the Suffolk Regiment was posted to Singapore. It was a fortunate turn of events for me as many of the Suffolk Regiment troops suffered terribly in POW camps after the surrender to the Japanese and were forced to participate in construction of the Burma Railway. On my discharge from hospital I was assigned to the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment and eventually posted to Langley in Buckinghamshire (now in Berkshire) to perform guard duties at the Hawker aircraft factory. In the nearby village of Iver there was a canteen for the use of servicemen stationed in the area, run by members of the Girls Junior Air Corps, and it was here that I met and courted a lovely girl called Ivy who was to become my wife.

battleship
MS lndrapoera

Early in 1943 we were told that we were being posted abroad and travelled to Greenock in Scotland where convoy WS29, one of a series of troopship convoys known as 'Winston Specials', was being assembled on the Clyde, ready to carry troops to Algiers to fight alongside the Desert Rats against Rommel's North Africa Corp. It was comprised of 24 ships under the protection of a dozen accompanying destroyers and minesweepers. We were assigned to MS lndrapoera, a Dutch cruise liner that had been converted to carry several thousand troops, and sailed on 14th April 1943, arriving in Algiers 9 days later, having been under aerial attack for much of the way.

On arrival in Algiers we were transferred about 300 miles to a transit camp in a coastal town called Bone (now Annabal) where facilities were fairly primitive. We slept in the open under mosquito nets and there were communal latrines comprising a plank with 4 holes in it laid across a trench.

two men in uniform
Alfred (left), Algiers 1943

There was plenty of action in the desert and some pretty tough days in harsh conditions, often under attack from the air. One of our duties was to track down and apprehend deserters who would disappear into the desert and live with nomadic tribes. On one occasion we found five deserters and had to arrest them and send them for Court Marshall. We were also deployed as guards on convoys of lorries taking German POWs to prison camps in the desert. On one occasion the lorry that I was guarding included Max Schmeling, the world heavyweight boxing champion. He was a lovely man and would even hold my rifle and help me climb up if I was struggling to get onto the lorry! One of our highlights was a visit by Winston Churchill who, as Prime Minister, was visiting the troops and addressed our platoon. We also saw Vera Lynn sing when she came with ENSA to perform in the desert.

man in uniform walking
Alfred in Rome, 1945

After seeing action in North Africa we were shipped to Italy and followed the allied advance as it moved Northwards, first to Naples and then on to Rome after it had been liberated, where we were blessed by the Pope.

We were there on the day war ended and some weeks later were sent home by train, a journey which took three days to complete.

I kept in touch with Ivy throughout my time away via censored letters and postcards and we became engaged whilst I was in Italy. I returned to Halesworth to find that my Mother was very unwell and Ivy came to stay with us to help care for her until she passed away early in 1946. We then began to plan for our wedding which took place in Iver Parish Church on 21st December that year, at the start of the harshest winter in more than 300 years. It was so cold that the wedding photos had to be re-posed in a studio some weeks later and we had to walk the last few miles to our wedding night destination because the trains had stopped running. We set up home in Iver and lived there for the whole of our married life. Ivy bore us a son who we named Michael and I have two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Most of my working life was spent as a Progress Chaser in a number of different companies including Langley Alloys, EMI Records and Drayton Controls who manufacture central heating equipment. Before that I worked as a shunter engine driver at Iver station for several years and ran the railway man’s bar on Paddington station for a while, returning to Iver on the milk train in the early hours of the morning. As well as my day job, I worked as an evening barman for many years in local pubs. They were in close proximity to Pinewood Studios which meant that I often served celebrities such as John Mills and the cricketer Denis Compton.

Sadly, my dear wife Ivy passed away on 13th September 2016, just three months short of our 70th wedding anniversary. I now live with my son and his wife in Woodley and it is nice to be with my family. Since coming to Woodley I have had the privilege of meeting Theresa May twice at tea parties and she has spoken to me and shaken my hand. I don't know of many people who have been lucky enough to meet two Prime Ministers.


My life in the Royal Navy – September 1943

Dennis Reginald Shepherd

I was born in Reading in 1925.

Aircraft carrier with aeroplanes on deck

I started my training in Skegness. I was trained in Staffordshire at a Butlin's holiday camp where we were put through exercises, marching and were taught some basic seafaring skills in what would have been called a simulator, i.e. a rowing boat in a pool, we were taught to row, but the oars had holes in them so we didn't move much.

After my initial training, I was transferred to Portsmouth barracks where we had more training, including swimming, which of course is important in the navy. I passed all the tests and was posted to my first ship.

My first posting was on the SS Strathmore, in Liverpool. When I arrived at the docks I was surprised at the size of the ship I had been posted to – it was huge! From there we went to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) via Malta and the Suez Canal, the SS Strathmore was a troopship (in the ship's previous life it carried horses during WW1 and was not a nice boat).

In Ceylon I was posted to the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable – it was breath-taking experience. If I thought the SS Strathmore was big, I could not believe how huge the Indomitable was! It was rather a challenge finding my way around this huge ship and it was quite a sight to see, all the fighter planes on the deck - the bombers were kept in the hanger below the flight deck.

Whilst we were in Ceylon, all the pilots joined us. We went from Ceylon to Bombay (Mumbai), I wasn't allowed ashore as I was on duty. From there we sailed out to join the Pacific fleet, where the carrier was involved in bombing raids on Hoshigaki airfield in the Sakishima Gunto Islands at the southernmost end of the Japanese Archipelago. We were at sea for about 6 months with continuous bombing of the islands. We didn't see land for six months.

Aircraft carrier damaged

Damage caused by Kamikaze bomber

One of my jobs on board the aircraft carrier was to wheel the 500 pound bombs around the flight deck to the aft lift well, where the officer in charge of detonating the bomb checked it before we lifted the bomb onto the bombers, we repeated this until all the bombers were fully armed.

These bombers then bombed the Japanese at Hoshigaki airfield. This happened every two days. We of course had to repeat the bomb loading every two days – this was hard work and I was always concerned about an attack happening whilst we were loading these big bombs.

After the initial six months we sailed to Sydney, Australia to change the guns to anti-aircraft guns as the guns they had on the aircraft carrier were no good for shooting down suicide bombers. The anti-aircraft guns were very effective against these bombers.

From Sydney, we sailed to Hong Kong where we picked up soldiers who had been prisoners of war with the Japanese. These men had been very badly treated by the Japanese and were like skeletons - from there the survivors were sent to Australia to recover before being sent back home.

Our journey into Hong Kong was tense as and we were told to keep to the centre of the carrier as there were still mines in the sea, but fortunately our mine sweepers had done a great job and we were not harmed in any way.

Aircraft carrier viewed from sea

Whilst we were in Hong Kong, the Admiral and other dignitaries went ashore to sign the peace treaty with the Japanese officials – peace was officially declared on the 16th September 1945 at Government House in Hong Kong.

I must admit that I had a wonderful time, in spite of all the hardship and danger and to this day I will remember my return home. It was the most amazing thing... when I saw my mother and two sisters standing on the wharf. I had to keep shouting from the side of the carrier – my youngest sister spotted me. I waved to them to come aboard ship, but there was such a long queue, I thought it would take ages. The next thing they were by my side, and what a welcome I had from all three of them – it was an overwhelming experience to see them again after being at sea for so many months.

My youngest sister loved bananas and she was over the moon as I had brought a very large bunch for her.

I will never forget them – bless them all, my father had to work, but I understood he had to do his job, but it was still a lovely homecoming.


Remembering Twyford

Evelyn

I left school at 15 and went straight to work. My uncle was a gardener House Parlour Maid. In fact his niece from the other side of his family is Freda Bye who attends the Lady Elizabeth Day Centre. At High Cocketts I made the beds, waited at tables. cleaned the silver and made up the fires.

From there, I had a job working at White Waltham Airfield working on the planes. I was the "chocs away" girl - there were four of us: Daphne Cross, Betty Blake, Win Charlton (my sister) and myself. We used to cycle there and back everyday. At lunchtimes we played badminton and I was partnered with Bob Powell. He turned out to be the best and I married him soon after.

Bob was in the RAF and was due to be posted abroad, but he wanted to make sure I would be his when he returned so we were married before he went to South Africa. He was away two years and I remained living with my mother.

When he returned we rented a small cottage across the road and it was the here our two sons were born. Bob was given the opportunity of buying 2 cottages in Waltham St Lawrence and he spent two years renovating them. Once finished. tenants rented one cottage and we moved into the second.

Our daughter was born there and we lived in Waltham St Lawrence for most of our lives. We moved to Twyford about twenty years ago and both enjoyed a long and happy retirement.