CHRISTINE ELIZABETH WHILD
8th September 1931 - 29th March 2022
Funeral service 25 April 2022
Please make charity donations to Sobell House Hospice Charity sobellhouse.org/donations
Christine was a huge part of Marcham life and will be much missed.
Here are the tributes paid to Christine by Martin, her son, John, her friend and companion, and Marcham WI There are more photos at the end of the page
The family have been overwhelmed by the many good wishes we have received since Mum passed away The following words stand out in the cards, letters emails and social media posts:-
I'd like to sum up all these words up when I think about Mum's life and the impact she had on others,
I believe we are celebrating the life here today of an Extraordinary Woman.
Mum has always had a love of writing, keeping a diary since a young age and producing many accounts of her life, some of which have been published and have won prizes. It is from a selection of these writings and my own personal memories that I have written this tribute to her.
When reading through her many accounts I came across two sides of notepaper. I guess it could be written in the late 60's or 1970. It is titled "What life might be like when I am Ninety". Well she made it to Ninety and when I say her predictions would put Nostradamus in the shade you get the idea!
Mum's childhood in Nottingham was dominated by the war. Living in an industrial city the threat of air raids was ever present. An air raid shelter was built in the family cellar, furnished and frequently occupied in the early years. Blackouts were in force and rationing in operation. Mum was dispatched to the pork butcher to pick up the meat allowance, only a few oz to feed a family for a week. Treats were rare but a family member serving in the armed forces managed to sneak her a banana in a food pack sent home which caused great excitement when she took it to school. Mum showing considerable entrepreneurial spirit in sharing it with fellow pupils for 2d a slice!
Mum left school at sixteen in her own words "having scraped the school certificate" and got a job at the Ministry of Works, meeting future husband Victor who also worked there. They say office romances never last but Mum definitely thought he was a keeper and they were married in 1952.
I am speaking to you today as Mum's eldest child. However, life could have been so different. Tragedy had struck two years prior to my birth when Mum gave birth to a stillborn child. When I was born the same midwife was present at the birth. Remembering the previous complications and recognising the same problems were occurring, she sent Mum to hospital for a caesarean operation. Mum writes that she yearned for Victor to be present when the baby was born but that just wasn't done in those days. When Victor was eventually allowed to see the new arrival, his first retort was "Is that the best you can do"!?
Dad's job with the UK Atomic Energy Authority took him to several sites ending up at Harwell and an Authority house in Abingdon. Mum was a full-time housewife at the time bringing up her three boys. The house we had was a little small and the search started for a bigger one. Dad worried whether they could afford a move but Mum had other ideas and looked for ways to move up the housing ladder.
Mum trained as a teacher to boost the family wage, attending Culham College. I particularly loved this period. I spent time there when Mum took me in the school summer holidays. Mum made new friends with the students who were mostly younger, cool and trendy and called her "Chris". I spent many happy hours with Mum and the students helping paint scenery for projects, plays and productions at the college.
After leaving teacher training college Mum got a job at Larkmead School. The Music Department at the time was in a minor crisis with few staff and the buildings were portacabins tucked behind the main school in a fairly poor state of repair. She recalled one lesson started out with a full complement of 30 children and was going well. However, she became aware that whenever she turned her back on the class there appeared to be less children each time. Puzzled, she went to the back of the class and discovered a small trap door that the kids used to sneak out during the lessons! She demanded that this escape route was blocked up, then went straight to the Year Head and caretaker to suggest that while they were at it, a lick of paint and a general tidy up wouldn't go amiss either.
Mum loved teaching, passing her knowledge to generations of kids and in her later years loved to be approached by pupils she had taught, some of whom had been inspired to teach themselves or had learned a musical instrument or joined a choir, but also by the more" unruly" element of kids who confessed they had been disruptive but held her in respect for her can-do attitude and her enthusiasm for teaching the subject she loved. Teachers at the school were amazed at the determination she showed in getting pupils of all abilities involved, giving them the confidence to sing in choirs and act in school musical productions.
With the extra money coming in from her teaching job the family were house searching and we found our present family home in Marcham. When we moved there over 50 years ago, Mum and Dad wasted no time in integrating themselves in village life, contributing to many social events such as the Marcham Son et Lumiere, old Time Music Hall, plays and pantomimes. Mum was devoted to all aspects of church life at All Saints, playing piano at services and leading the church choir.
Marcham is the home of Denman College, now sadly closed, but then the National hub of the Womens Institute. In Abingdon, Mum was a founder member and first President of WI Abingdon Fitzharris Branch. She joined WI in Marcham and using the extensive facilities of the college literally on her doorstep, let her art and crafts creativity run riot. Mum really was multi-talented - Egg decorating, making corn dollies, pottery, brass rubbing, embroidery, water colour painting, it seemed there was nothing she wouldn't try.
In her 80's, Mum started WI market baking, getting up early to prepare and sell her fresh produce at the
weekly WI market. Shortbread, mince pies and delicious cheese scones were particular favourites.
My father Victor suffered with dementia from 1982 until his death in 1999. For nearly twenty years, Mum was his devoted Carer. She displayed great courage and patience in looking after him at home.
Mum pored over research articles into the disease. Using her musical and organisational skills, she got heavily involved in fundraising events for the Alzheimer'
s Society. She took time to support and befriend fellow carers. She appeared on TV and Radio several times during this period of her life, contributing to documentaries on the subject to help raise understanding of this cruel disease.
During the later years of Dad's illness, Mum had to retire from teaching but her thirst for learning was still strong. She studied for several years with Open University on top of caring for Victor, achieving a BA with Hons in Humanities and winning a National Award for adult learning through the WI. She has also studied successfully for the Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music (LRAM), a very prestigious qualification.
Mum was a keen environmentalist and joined Abingdon Carbon Cutters in her later years becoming their oldest and most active member. The environmental imperative to act on climate change before it is too late for future generations was her main focus.
Mum is a pretty resilient woman, having survived breast cancer, pneumonia, a minor stroke and a very bad fall over the last twenty years or so but unfortunately her latest cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment was to overwhelm her and severely restrict the busy life she had led until then. She came more reliant on home care but was determined to live independently in the house and village she so loved.
I would like to thank those close to her who helped her through her last few months and all of the love displayed by people in the village.
Firstly, I thank the family,
Malcolm, who came from the other side of the world to see her in her last days.
Douglas, who with his wife Nicky, whizzed regularly up the A34 from Portsmouth to undertake DIY jobs that were way beyond my capability.
Nicky with a delicious dish to keep us all fortified.
My wife Julia who cleaned the kitchen, washed everything to within an inch of its life and kept Mum's
mind active as the mean keen Telegraph Crossword Queen.
Her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who dropped in to say goodbye. Richard and Doreen next door, ever loving and supportive of Mum.
and John, her beloved friend of 10 years who provided comfort in the dark times of her illness.
And finally, to you all, here in the church and online, we are so glad you are here to celebrate the life of
An extraordinary woman
Thank you for listening
John Howden-Richards' Tribute to Christine Whild - read at her funeral service 25 April 2022
I have been asked to say a few words before the poem.
Some ten years ago now, the late Roy Hobart and I decided to go to 62 North Street where there was a coffee morning in aid of Alzheimer'
s. We were seated by the pond, and out of the house came Christine to offer us coffee - that was the first time I set eyes on Christine.
Subsequently, several more coffee mornings followed!
Little did I know then, what an impact that meeting would have on my life in the ensuing years!
We discovered that we had many interests in common, and we never travelled anywhere without the Good Food Guide, the Good Pub Guide and the Guide Michelin, when in France. Christine liked her food and wine, and was a good cook!
Masterchef was one of our favourite programmes.
But mostly her attraction for me, was to an exceptional, talented lady; engaging, full of energy, with a joie de vivre - who enjoyed life to the full - une bonne viveuse! In here company, life was never dull. She was intelligent, fun, clever - but never arrogant.
I will finish this with a quotation from a letter to me, written by Christine, while in hospital, which I received posthumously. She said, "We 'go together' so well. We think alike, we have the same ideas, opinions." Well, for me, that summarised the foundation of our relationship! "We 'go together'" so well. We think alike, we have the same ideas, opinions."
Dare I suggest, that many of you, also find yourselves able to identify, readily, with that sentiment?
Christine was a wonderful lady, epitomised by, if nothing else, your presence here today. And I do appreciate that I met many of you through Christine.
It was a privilege to have known Christine and her lovely family, who welcomed me, unreservedly, into their fold; and, for me, to have spent so much time with her.
We shall miss her, greatly!
Now for the poem
Christine asked me to give a reading; I asked what she had in mind; she said that she would find something. This poem was the result. We never discussed it; it deals with the past, the present and looks to the future.
In it, you will see reflections of Christine, unsurprisingly; her interest in history; her vision for the future; her passion for music, singing and poetry; her faith, her sense of drama - note that especially! In all - her cleverness!
It isn't benign - prepare for a roller-coaster!
Here it is!
Written by Christine Whild and read by John Howden-Richards at her funeral service in an unforgettable performance!
In this modern age, we don't stop the clocks,
We don't put a wreath on the door,
We don't wear black veils and mourning dress,
Mostly, life carries on, just as it did before:
But nevertheless, it's a sombre occasion,
For someone we loved isn't here anymore.
Life is fragile; just flesh, bone and thought,
Present one day - the next, slipped away;
Memories shared, good times enjoyed,
Too late now, for things we always meant to ask, or to say.
The music is silenced; the poems no longer read,
And we're feeling rather empty and blue:
This old world has vanished, spent, and gone,
With a yearning ache sending us slightly askew.
We may be weeping a few tears today,
As we gather in this Holy place;
But the Good Shepherd knows, and cares, and waits -
For the soul is eternal, by God's grace; and
New eyes will open on familiar fields,
New young hands will till the soil;
New pieces will be played on the old piano,
Service, joy and mirth will uncoil.
This old world will spin, as it always has,
Stars will twinkle and shine above;
The darkest house will come before the dawn,
But, above all, there will be new birth and love.
Carole Sands - Marcham WI
Christine was the Castaway at the WI Desert Island Discs evening in September 2018
We are so sad to report the death of our member, Christine Whild. Christine was our longest standing member, having been President on several occasions and very active in other committee roles. Christine moved to Abingdon in 1966, and was one of the founder members of Fitzharries WI in Abingdon, before moving to and joining Marcham WI. She was a Denman tutor and gave many talks around the county, especially on the history of Christmas traditions. She opened her lovely garden frequently for Denman events, and for Marcham WI parties.
Christine loved the WI and could always be relied upon to play the piano at any event given half the chance. She especially enjoyed the grand piano at Denman. As a member of the Combined Arts committee, she led the Christmas Songs in Oxford Town Hall many times, even when she had to have tinsel threaded into her thinning hair during her treatment for cancer. She was always one of the first to volunteer for anything and everything. She loved the jokes we have at the end of our monthly meetings and laughed longer and louder than anyone else.
Christine was a wonderful lady inside and out, and we will miss her greatly.