Anne Evans (28 May 1934 - 27 Jan 2021)

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AnneAlzheimer's Society

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Funeral Service

Location
Carpenders Park Lawn Cemetery Watford Hertfordshire HA5 4AY
Date
27th Feb 2021
Time
2pm
Funeral Director
Co-operative Funeral Services Danbury

In loving memory of Anne Evans who sadly passed away on 27th January 2021, her son David writes:

My mother was unique and special. She was caring, fun, intelligent witty and always humble. She was great company. She had a moral core. Her beliefs and values were fundamental to everything about her. They centred around honesty and caring for other people and animals. She had almost limitless compassion for the suffering of others. But what was particular about her beliefs was her determination to live up to them in every thought and deed. This was her integrity. And whilst she always believed in getting along with others, and was often considerate to a fault, she did not compromise her values.

Sadly, her early life was not easy. She was born in 1934 just outside Manchester. Her father was a Congregational minister and her mother a classics teacher. Her father - Pa - later became a psychoanalyst and moved to the USA publishing well reviewed articles in the psychoanalytical press. In talking with my mother about him, I always had the sense of someone who was a big personality, confident and accomplished.

Her mother became a Deputy Head teacher and settled in March in Cambridgeshire, which became my mother’s second home.

As a child, she often stayed with her grandmother in Westmorland and had happy memories of that time. She went to boarding school at Kingsmoor School at Buxton in Derbyshire. This school was run on what then were modern ideas, of being pupil-centred. She has happy memories of this too.

She seemed often to minimise her qualities and achievements, and to overly chastise herself for any lapses. Right to the end of her life, she would attribute her loss of memory to not trying hard enough. Overall I have a sense that neither of her parents filled her with confidence in herself. She left school with no qualifications. ‘I was thick’, she would say. Of course, that is clearly not the case, but it is how she felt. She went to Grims tutorial college which she says lived up to its name, and learnt secretarial skills.

She ended up in London and met my father. They were married, moved to Leeds and when I was born she was just 19. This was not a good time for her. She had a spell in hospital with severe post-natal depression, and a year later made her way back to London.

She was a member of the Womens’ Royal Army Corps for 5 years (May 58 - May 63), playing clarinet in the band sometimes solo. She always looked back on this period with fondness, and I have an idea that this is where she found herself. After leaving the army she worked as a musical instrument repairer. For the next two years she worked at the BBC Music Library.

Around this time, Harry Newton came to play an important part in her life. He was a regional organiser of the Workers’ Educational Association and clearly he saw potential in her. She was always grateful to him for the encouragement and support he gave to her to study and gain qualifications. She left school with no qualifications and in 1965 and 1966 she achieved A Levels in Economics and Economic History and also a distinction at S Level; very impressive for someone studying part time. This enabled her to go to university and in 1969, aged 35, she successfully completed a degree in Economics at University College London.

In 1969 she became a factory inspector. From 1977-1992, She had responsibility for safety at Heathrow Airport. On retirement she was presented with a picture of the airport which hung on her wall both at the flat and the care home. I am told that at that time she was a national expert on airport safety.

At the age of 60, she was obliged to retire from the Civil Service. She was living in a rented flat in Westminster. She took her lump sum and savings and bought an apartment on the Queens Park Estate, again in Westminster. She immediately set about getting further qualifications, initially as a medical secretary. She worked at St Mary’s hospital for a further 10 years.

She never remarried. When I asked her about it, she said she never felt that she could be trusted to not muck it up! But she and Ray had a long mutually supportive relationship. He moved house to March so that she could see him and her mother at weekends. They enjoyed culture and walking holidays. At the time, she was dividing her time between Westminster in the week and March at the weekend. Sadly, Ma died in 1998, aged 87, and Ray in 1999.

When Carole and I had children, she took to the role of Gran with great enthusiasm. She threw herself into playing with James and Katie and never visited without leaving around the house new childrens’ books for each of them, to be discovered after she had departed on the train to London. The choice of book must have taken serious research as they were always excellent, and often award-winning titles. She partook in Christmas celebrations, including the Boxing Day trivial pursuit game. There was much competition to be on her team, as this was generally the winning team. And, characteristically, she always greeted her triumph with surprise.

She had a longstanding passion for music. She was particular about what she liked, and this includes Chamber music. Radio 3 would be in the background pretty well continuously in the flat. It was a restful calming environment. She regularly attended concerts at the Wigmore Hall. I once confessed to not quite understanding what chamber music is, for which I was roundly told off!! She also had a passion for poetry and could recite excerpts from TS Eliot’s Cats long after she had forgotten most of the other things she ever knew. She also loved Art and had an especial fondness for the Great Bardfield artists. She learnt French and achieved a good level of understanding. She would read books in French and no doubt chansons. She persisted with this long after her dementia had made it virtually impossible, and, characteristically, chided herself for her failings.

It was impossible to know her without being very aware of her concern about justice and fairness. She had an award for the number of times she gave blood (77 times). She gave to a range of charities, some well known and some less well known. For example one supported Iranian people persecuted by the government there. At a time when she was reaching her 8th decade, I had to dissuade her from marching against the Iraq war!!

She had a great interest in gardens and gardened both her own garden and community gardens. For many years she attended Chelsea Flower Show and was a supporter of Kew Gardens.

Of course, this obituary would not be complete without reference to her passion for cats! She had one most of her life. The last cat was Hunk who led a charmed and utterly spoilt life. She loved him dearly however and I think he was especially important as dementia began to take its toll on her social life.

She loved living in Queens Park and was known for the active part she played in all aspects of the life of the community. She demonstrated the community spirit that makes Queens Park such a lovely place to visit. She helped tend the community garden down the road and she was commended in 2017 and 2018 for her own garden in the Queens Park in Bloom competition. She was also awarded an outstanding volunteer award at the 2016 Paddington Festival. Astrid, a fellow volunteer gardener, commented, ‘She was fun and smart and humble …………… I can only aspire to be like that if I reach my 80’s. I can still picture her turning up with her plastic bag full of tools, apologising for being late (with always a story that would make me laugh why) and buckling down to work. She was great company to garden with and her appearance was always a highlight of the sessions.’

She had dementia for a number of years. I am sure she contrived to conceal it, and did so very effectively. This was partly I think because she was determined to not be a burden and partly because she valued her independence. And her smartness and brilliant way with words enabled this. But, as we all know, living alone in her beloved flat even with support became unsustainable. She missed her flat, but she bore it generally with a degree of patience and good humour that I suspect will elude me should I be in the same situation!

We miss her. We miss her warmth and care for others. We miss her humour. We miss her passion for music. We miss her wonderful way with words. She was unique and very special. We will not see her like again.

DAVID SLEIGHTHOLM wrote

We had a wonderful day for the burial. we were friends and family of hers, folk who have lived alongside her for very many years. And whilst we all regret her dementia and death, we celebrated her wonderful spirit....... in the sun!

I gave a eulogy...... I say I gave it as I spoke it. But it is essentially a compilation of comments from those who loved her. Here it is:

My mother was unique and special. She was caring, fun, intelligent witty and always humble. She was great company. She had a moral core. Her beliefs and values were fundamental to everything about her. They centred around honesty and caring for other people and animals……. notably cats of course. She had almost limitless compassion for the suffering of others. But what was particular about her beliefs was her determination to live up to them in every thought and deed. This was her integrity. And whilst she always believed in getting along with others, and was often considerate to a fault, she did not compromise her values.

You have all seen the biography on the website ………………… and since I posted it, I have received a huge richness of observations and recollections …… ……by friends and relatives some of whom are here today and some of whom are not. Today I am going to share some of these wonderful messages.

Lots of people would have liked to come but have been unable to. Rules and safety concerns weigh heavily. However, it is really great that we have not just her grandchildren and partners, but some special friends of hers. And longstanding and loyal friends they are. Bill worked with her and took her to visit gardens, Eric played music and went to concerts with her and Simon gardened with her and played a part with her in the life of Queens Park. But the relationships were so much more than that. And she got to know Brett and Nigel too.

My comment about her early life struck a chord. Her cousin Delyth wrote: Her father was definitely unconventional. I have a story about Newton and Anys (that is Anne’s parents) going to a harvest supper when Newton was still a minister. They arrived on a tandem, rather inappropriately dressed, and a little bit tipsy! There were certainly a few raised eyebrows among the straight-laced chapel goers!’ Delyth goes on to describe an auction of the harvest festival produce where Newton was the auctioneer…….. it did not go well!!

An unconventional upbringing is fine, as long as it leaves you supported and ready for the world. However, I am not sure that hers did. I think of her aged just 19. Married. Having just become a mother. In a psychiatric hospital. But I never got any sense that she held anyone responsible for her difficult early life but herself. As Eric observed,’ she judged herself more harshly than she did others.’

And as we all know, she minimised her achievements and the importance of what she did. Yesterday, I received a letter from Alan Jones and he wrote: ‘I remember Anne very well from the time we worked together in NW London District of the Factory Inspectorate. She worked hard as an inspector and I am sure that as a result of her diligence, many injuries have been prevented and the health of workers has been improved.’ And Bill wrote: ‘Anne looked after Heathrow Airport, which was a specialised industry activity in itself and the biggest in the UK, employing about 70,000 people. Anne was extremely knowledgeable about the structure, practices and work activities of the civil airport sector. As a result she would have been consulted by colleagues about the industry’s safety standards and practices.’ You will not be surprised to hear that I never got any sense from her that her work was as important as that. I only recently learnt that it was!

Music was a great love. Characteristically, she played down her skills. She was a professional musician. Bill comments: ‘I know that she loved going to the Wigmore Hall and hugely appreciated chamber music…... She never mentioned the real level of her music proficiency, let alone playing the clarinet & her life in the WRAC.’

She was a loyal friend. Eric recalls a conversation with Anne about someone who was making his life very difficult. He says: ‘Anne’s answer, which endeared her to me for ever, was simple: ‘I’ll duff him up for you’. I believed her too.’ ……..and we all have stories about her care for us and for people in general. I recall that she took the difficult decision to consent to my taking over the running of her finances when she had been visited at home by people from an organisation asking for a significant sum of money. They said that if she did not pay up, people in Iran would lose their life. For her this was an almost impossible dilemma - she was tortured by it.

On a brighter note, her positivity was an example to us all. Her cousin Mary says: we all have so many happy memories of her and her sense of humour - she could find the funny side of most situations which is a huge talent to possess. If things were going wrong for her she would just say "oh well" and have a little laugh.’

Her environmental commitment was unwavering. For example, she vigorously campaigned against HS2. But the thing that made her environmental commitment special was that she not only believed it, but she lived it. I know the story about the funeral director being flummoxed by the specification of a cardboard coffin raised a smile among most of you. As Mary says, ‘True to her environmental principles as always.’ Sadly we could not quite honour everything she wanted due to COVID restrictions. But we nearly did. And isn’t it great to be enjoying a woodland burial. ………. as she had planned it

She was committed also to her community. And was given a number of awards for it. Characteristically, she never quite accepted that she deserved this appreciation. Simon is a fellow Queens Park gardener who enabled her to carry on doing what she loved despite her diminishing mobility. He received an email received after an unexpected award at a Queens Park event. I will try and do justice to her turn of phrase - I know I’ll not succeed but I will do my best. She said: ‘I apologise for being so totally gobsmacked on Saturday that I didn't thank you properly for all your kindness. I am just as gobsmacked today but must thank you for letting this wobbly old bird fall about in your now-great garden. So lots and lots of thanks for lots and lots of reasons from Anne.’


Carole always appreciated Anne’s love of words, of poetry, of books. Some grandparents when visiting bring a toy but for Anne it had always to be a book. She was fond of Carole, and used to say to her of me, with a bit of a twinkle in her eye, ‘I don’t know how you put up with him.’ She didn’t mean it……… I think!! And when she and I were talking she would say,’ you did well marrying her!!’

Toward the end of her life, she was less independent and was reliant on Mel, her carer. They got on like a house on fire. However, my mother was never comfortable with anybody doing things for her. I often found myself saying to her that she needs to allow Mel to do the work that she had been employed to do! Of course, I might as well have saved my breath! Anne was constantly telling her to sit down and have a cuppa! On one occasion when Mel was under the weather and needed to get to the chemist to pick up some medicine, my mother said. ‘I’ll get it for you!’

Even at Ebury Court, despite her dementia and limited mobility, she would say. ‘I want to do something useful. I want them to give me things to do!’ Enjoying being served by others was completely anathema. ‘I’ll do anything,’ she said. ‘I’ll scrub the floors!’

We miss Anne. We miss her warmth and care for others. We miss her humour. We miss her passion for music. We miss her wonderful way with words. She was unique and very special.

And she lives on in those she left behind. She had a very special bond with James and Katie. She helped them both achieve their ambitions, supporting them in a range of ways. At a time when her dementia would have stopped almost anyone else from trying, she was still trying to develop further her French which was already at a high level. She would often seek help from James. And I know she saw herself in Katie in many ways. And I see my mother in them both in different ways. She was enormously proud of them both. And indeed she lives on not just in them but in all of us who were touched by her life in so many ways

As her friend Sydney says: Rest assured that Anne lives on vibrantly in my mind as a good friend, a warm and lovely person. She will be long remembered and long loved.’

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Brett Pugh donated £30 in memory of Anne
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Jos and Helen Leeder donated £50 in memory of Anne

With our love.

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DAVID SLEIGHTHOLM posted a picture

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  • just found this one of the WRAC band playing in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Of course this is before the Berlin Wall!! Can't quite spot which is my mother!

    Posted by DAVID on 26/02/2021 Report abuse
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DAVID SLEIGHTHOLM wrote

a favourite poem was Skimbleshanks, which was inscribed on a mug given her by Eric. Even when dementia had taken hold, and there was little she could remember, she would recite this with love and gusto:

SKIMBLESHANKS
THE RAILWAY CAT
by
T.S. Elliot


There's a whisper down the line at 11.39
When the Night Mail's ready to depart,
Saying "Skimble where is Skimble
has he gone to hunt the thimble?
We must find him or the train can't start."
All the guards and all the porters
and the stationmaster's daughters
They are searching high and low,
Saying "Skimble where is Skimble
for unless he's very nimble
Then the Night Mail just can't go."
At 11.42 then the signal's nearly due
And the passengers are frantic to a man--
Then Skimble will appear and he'll saunter to the rear:
He's been busy in the luggage van!
He gives one flash of his glass-green eyes
And the signal goes "All Clear!"
And we're off at last for the northern part
Of the Northern Hemisphere!
You may say that by and large
it is Skimble who's in charge
Of the Sleeping Car Express.
From the driver and the guards
to the bagmen playing cards
He will supervise them all, more or less.
Down the corridor he paces
and examines all the faces
Of the travellers in the First and the Third;
He establishes control by a regular patrol
And he'd know at once if anything occurred.
He will watch you without winking
and he sees what you are thinking
And it's certain that he doesn't approve
Of hilarity and riot, so the folk are very quiet
When Skimble is about and on the move.
You can play no pranks with Skimbleshanks!
He's a Cat that cannot be ignored;
So nothing goes wrong on the Northern Mail
When Skimbleshanks is aboard.

Oh, it's very pleasant when
you have found your little den
With your name written up on the door.
And the berth is very neat
with a newly folded sheet
And there's not a speck of dust on the floor.
There is every sort of light-
you can make it dark or bright;
There's a handle that you turn to make a breeze.
There's a funny little basin
you're supposed to wash your face in
And a crank to shut the window if you sneeze.
Then the guard looks in politely
and will ask you very brightly
"Do you like your morning tea weak or strong?"
But Skimble's just behind him
and was ready to remind him,
For Skimble won't let anything go wrong.
And when you creep into your cosy berth
And pull up the counterpane,
You ought to reflect that it's very nice
To know that you won't be bothered by mice--
You can leave all that to the Railway Cat,
The Cat of the Railway Train!

In the watches of the night
he is always fresh and bright;
Every now and then he has a cup of tea
With perhaps a drop of Scotch
while he's keeping on the watch,
Only stopping here and there to catch a flea.
You were fast asleep at Crewe
and so you never knew
That he was walking up and down the station;
You were sleeping all the while
he was busy at Carlisle,
Where he greets the stationmaster with elation.
But you saw him at Dumfries,
where he speaks to the police
If there's anything they ought to know about:
When you get to Gallowgate
there you do not have to wait--
For Skimbleshanks will help you to get out!
He gives you a wave of his long brown tail
Which says: "I'll see you again!
You'll meet without fail on the Midnight Mail
The Cat of the Railway Train.



The end

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mary dixon donated £50 in memory of Anne
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mary dixon donated £50 in memory of Anne
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Elizabeth Stewart wrote

I remember my half sister Anne as she looks in David’s photograph - as a young woman in uniform. In our early years we each grew up leading separate lives in different countries and my first memory of Anne dates from her WRAC days when our father returned to the UK for a few years and Anne visited us with her clarinet. She was enormous fun to be with and was very much team leader of her much younger half sister and brother.

I got to know Anne better when she went to university at the same time as I did. She was a truly remarkable person, initially leaving school with no qualifications and then, as a mature student, having both the intelligence and determination to get her A and S level qualifications and a degree in Economics. This was followed by a successful career with responsibility for airport safety at Heathrow. During this period of her life Anne visited her father in America - he always spoke warmly of these visits which I believe gave them both a lot of pleasure. He was also very proud of her achievements.

Anne was bright, witty and good fun to be with. She was very gifted in her ability to play the clarinet and I remember her lifelong passion for music and her regular trips to Wigmore Hall which were so important to her.

I will remember Anne in later life as she looks in David’s other photo intently reading the Sunday papers. My children also have very fond memories of their Aunt Anne and my husband remembers her with great affection. We will all miss her.


In loving memory donation made to Alzheimer’s Society.

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DAVID SLEIGHTHOLM posted a picture

Myrtle used to take my mother to get her hair done. There was always a great deal of fun and hilarity all round!

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DAVID SLEIGHTHOLM posted a picture

This is my mother with Mel, who was her carer and friend in the years prior to her going into Ebury Court. Mel is very special and managed to sustain my mother in the flat, despite my mother's determination at all times to have Mel sit down and relax!!

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William Sargent is attending the funeral
William Sargent donated £40 in memory of Anne

We both shared a delight in gardening and I remember fondly our several trips to Hampton Court Flower Show. From Bill.

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William Sargent donated £50 in memory of Anne

Anne was a delightful person to have known as a former work colleague and as friend. She was warm, self-effacing, sometimes wry, witty and with a hugely generous and compassionate spirit. Bless You Anne. From Bill.

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William Sargent wrote

Anne was a delightful person to have known as a former work colleague and as friend. She was warm, self-effacing, sometimes wry, witty and with a hugely generous and compassionate spirit. Bless You Anne. From Bill.

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Susan Chedgey posted a picture

One more from October 2013, digging in the Wildlife Area.

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Susan Chedgey posted a picture

I'm guessing this was taken in St Luke's hall almost opposite Anne's Ilbert Street home. December 2015 with a clipboard, enrolling new members at the door, seen here with our much missed hub manager.

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  • I think that this is St Jude's Hall but still in Ilbert Street.

    Posted by Simon on 19/02/2021 Report abuse
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Susan Chedgey posted a picture

This was taken during the 2015 Summer Festival. Never one to be idle, Anne's help with the endless litter picking was invaluable.

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Susan Chedgey posted a picture

This was taken in 2016 at the Queen's Park Gardens Summer Festival. Anne took pride in being able to help at the Open Age table and she is wearing one of her favourite blouses here.

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  • That is a wonderful picture!!

    Posted by DAVID on 24/02/2021 Report abuse
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Susan Chedgey posted a picture

I found this in the Paddington Festival programme for 2015.

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Gareth Evans donated £10 in memory of Anne

In loving memory from Cousin Gareth

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Simon Walton wrote

Dear FOPG,
I apologise for being so totally gobsmacked on Saturday that I didn't thank you properly for all your kindness. I am just as gobsmacked today but must thank you not only for letting this wobbly old bird fall about in your now-great garden but also for showing me how spectacular dark red roses are - I never knew that. - Now I look at them again and again; they are absolutely gorgeous. So lots and lots of thanks for lots and lots of reasons from Anne

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  • This email that was sent after she was awarded something from Ryan in the gardens – it was something like Community Champion Award. It is a lovely email…..

    Posted by Simon on 13/02/2021 Report abuse
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Simon Walton posted a picture

Anne in Queens Park Gardens.

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Astrid de Cosson donated £30 in memory of Anne
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Nigel Garwood donated £50 in memory of Anne

Such a pleasure to have known you, Anne.

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Nigel/Simon Snuggs/Walton donated £50 in memory of Anne
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Brett Pugh is attending the funeral
Eric Serebro is attending the funeral
Eric Serebro wrote

I first met Anne in the City Lit chamber music group supervised by Bryan Fairfax. We soon discovered that we shared a particular love for the music of Francis Poulenc, though we disagreed about orchestral music and opera, both of which Anne disliked. At the time I was going through the breakup of a relationship and my unhappiness must have shown at times, though I tried to keep it to myself. Anne picked up on it and at some point, while we were all drawing breath between movements of a piece we were playing, she asked how I was coping with the travelling from Bucks into London. I explained that I’d invested the funds from my London flat in our new home and that I no longer had the wherewithal to move back to London as my ex-partner refused to sell. Anne’s answer, which endeared her to me for ever, was simple: ‘I’ll duff him up for you’. I believed her too.

Here are a few more memories. Before Anne moved to the Ilbert Street flat, she had a room on the first floor of the Warwick Farm Dairies’ building, overlooking Elgin Avenue. Heath
Robinson could have learned a thing or two from the way she had organised her living space. To the left of the door were washing and cooking facilities. Books and records were neatly stored along the left-hand wall and her bed occupied most of the length of the room just beneath the window. Anne’s engineering masterstroke was a system of frames covering the entire ceiling area. They could be lowered and raised by pulleys and cords and from them were suspended multi-coloured items of freshly washed laundry. The only time I ever knew her to surpass that achievement was when she constructed an intricate wooden climbing frame for one of her cats, possibly Jemima, in the back garden of the Ilbert Street flat. When I mentioned it to her a year or so before her move to Ebury Court she had no recollection of that wondrous construction.

Anne had well-hidden criminal tendencies, as I discovered during frequent visits to art galleries. We never left the Tate Gallery on Millbank without ‘nicking’ (her word) at least one masterpiece – preferably a 20th Century English painting or sketch by the likes of John Piper or Paul Nash - to be smuggled into an imaginary van parked outside. Countering that tendency, she gave generously to various charities and was a loyal ‘punter’ at the Wigmore Hall.

In my mind, there’s a blue plaque above the entrance of the concert hall dedicated to Anne.

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Warwick Farm Dairies, Elgin Avenue, where Anne had a room on the first floor.

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Eric Serebro donated £30 in memory of Anne
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