In loving memory of the late Vera Audrey Howes who sadly passed away on 4th February 2015
Vera Audrey Howes
December 6th1929 – February 4th 2015
A celebration of the life of a truly wonderful lady
Vera was born on December 6th 1929, at 18 Coppice Grove, Mapperley. She was the second of six children born to Edward and Mary Smith. When the family moved to Brickyard Cottages on Woodborough Road the old Mapperley brickyard often became her playground along with her sister Eileen and brothers Michael, William, Jeffrey and Phillip. As a child Vera delivered newspapers around Mapperley for Twigdon’s paper Shop in all weathers come rain or shine – she was never shy of hard work, even as a child, and handed all her earnings to her mother. She attended the Mission School then Walter Halls School and Mapperley Methodist Church Sunday School. She always fondly remembered the Sunday School outings on the back of a lorry converted into a bus and told how all the family would walk to the Goose Fair and back each October. The war years were hard for the family and during air raids they sheltered in the cellar of the Porchester Public House.
In 1944 Vera left school at the tender age of 14 and began her first job as a machinist in Nottingham’s Lace Market. She worked with her beloved sister Eileen at Simon May and Company for many years. Mum would often reflect on how punctuality was always essential working at this factory – one minute late and you were locked out, so she soon learned to sprint pretty fast up the cobblestones of The Poultry and Bottle Lane each morning.
As Vera grew older she learned to dance and loved to visit the Dance Schools and Ball Rooms of Nottingham including the Palais. One evening in the late 1940s Vera met my late father, Charlie, at Handford and Richard Dancing School on Upper Parliament Street. Charlie was a tall, handsome man who had served in the R.A.F. throughout World War Two as a wireless operator. It was a case of ‘Love at first sight’ mum would tell us and they were married on March 11th 1950 at St Judes Church, Mapperley. My dear sister Linda was born 14 months later and mum left work while dad gained employment in the building trade following a short spell when Vera and Charlie ran a Fish and Chip Shop in Carrington Market Place.
Dad’s job with Wimpey eventually led them to move to Corby New Town in Northamptonshire where mum gave birth to me in her lovely new Wimpey home in August 1956. Linda and I had a wonderful childhood at Corby with our devoted mum and dad being the best parents any child could wish for. Their hard work never ceased, however. When dad got home from work mum went out to work on the night shift at the nearby Smiths Crisp Factory.
In 1961 the family embarked on a great adventure. Dad had become an electrical fitter with the CEGB and landed a job in Devon upgrading overhead power lines throughout Devon and Cornwall. He bought a big Bluebird caravan and that became our family home for five years. We set off south on the train with Trixie our faithful dog and little else other than a few suitcases full of clothes and soon adapted to caravan life. Mum, however, did have one big fear to overcome – The local wildlife. Whilst surviving the harsh winters of the early 1960s when we were often snowed in for weeks on end, Mum could never come to terms with the wasps and hornets, field mice and voles, geese, cows and the odd Grass Snake or two that slithered under our temporary home. Much to mum’s relief when dad’s contract with the CEGB was finally complete we returned from the West Country and settled back here in Nottingham.
Vera’s working life in Nottingham began with the School Meals Service where she worked as a cook at the Ellis Guildford School. Those kids were very lucky as Mum was always a fabulous cook.
Mum called me and Linda her ‘Chicks’ and when the chicks had finally flown the nest in 1977 Mum and Dad bought their dream home on Valley Road, Sherwood, turning it into their special little palace. It came complete with one of those wonderful modern contraptions we had never had as kids – a telephone! Many people here today will have fond memories of the fabulous garden Vera and Charlie created there and the wonderful hospitality they offered to guests – their Christmas family get togethers will long be remembered.
Mum’s career blossomed when she joined the Boots Company working in the famous D1 Soap Factory. She loved her time working at Boots where she rose to become a Supervisor in the Fragrance Mixing Department. I was fortunate to be allowed onto the Beeston site on the day mum retired in 1990. It certainly was a day to remember. Vera was so popular that virtually the whole of D1 came to a standstill as her colleagues said goodbye. Then we were taken over to Head Office for an incredible reception with all the Boots Company Directors there to wish Vera well. Not bad for a skinny kid who left school at 14 following a very basic education.
Everything Mum had in life she worked extremely hard for.
In retirement Vera really kept herself busy. In fact you almost had to make an appointment to see her! Boots Ladies, Home League, Ladies Bright Hour, Townswomen’s Guild, Friends of Elton, St Martin’s coffee mornings, Holiday at Home, numerous Evening Classes and, of course, her cherished Sunday’s worshipping here at Cross St Baptist Church with her beloved friends.
Vera and Charlie loved travelling and went on a wonderful World Tour after Dad retired visiting America, Australia and Singapore. It was a trip they talked about for years. They still loved to dance after retirement and every Wednesday went up to Clifton together to dance the afternoon away at Sun Valley Leisure or ‘JB’s’ as they called it. They were still dancing together on their Diamond Wedding Anniversary on March 11th 2010, the highlight of which was receiving a letter and personal card from Her Majesty the Queen. Mum was still dancing until late last year despite suffering from chronic osteoporosis… nothing could stop Vera from dancing!
Mum and Dad have always offered incredible support to Linda and me throughout our lives. Their support allowed us both to gain professional qualifications, buy our own property and to develop our own businesses... You were ALWAYS there for us and we will always be eternally grateful to you Mum.
Vera was a wonderful mother and a great carer. She cared for so many people. Family members and friends alike all benefitted from Vera’s care. She cared for Charlie through his failing health for the best part of twenty years and devoted her life to his care when he developed dementia. For a little lady Mum’s energy was remarkable.
In recent times mum has needed the care of others herself and I would like to personally thank everyone who has helped Vera in her time of need, not least Marie who has been a rock to mum and uncle Bill who has devoted so much of his time to her – she’ll miss her trips to Morrison’s with you Bill. We would like to thank all the care teams, Doctor Julian Henry for caring for Vera and Charlie so well for so long and all the wonderful staff at the Queens Medical Centre. There are too many others for me to mention by name at this moment in time but you all know who you are and I know that Vera was so grateful to you all.
May I end by thanking you all for the huge array of lovely cards we have received and all the wonderful floral tributes.
Thank you all for your welcome support at this very sad time.
Vera was a truly remarkable and wonderful lady.
We will miss her dearly.