A Family History Collection
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Our Mum, Audrey Lord, was born in Gillingham, Kent on the 3rd January 1920, the first child of Arthur and Victoria Higgins (known as Lala to the Lord children).
Mum was only 2 1/2 lbs when born. In fact the doctor didn't think she would survive and advised that she be thrown in the bin! Luckily Great Aunt Charlotte, who was a nurse, thought differently. She wrapped her in cotton wool and fed her with a fountain pen and took care of her. Mum lived until she was 96 years old.
She had four sisters- Joan, Christine, Eileen and Betty. Some of our cousins are here today, along with what's left of her own children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren.
Shortly after she was born, the family moved to St Ives in Cornwall- our grandfather ran the first talkie cinema there.
Mum always maintained that she had been born in Cornwall and when we pointed out to her that she hadn't, she thought for a while and told us she would have been, had she not been premature!
Mum told us recently that she adored her father and so it was really tough on them when he decided to leave the family when she was about eight.
To make ends meet, her Mum used to bake cakes, which none of the family could afford to eat!
They then moved back to Gillingham where they received support from Lala's sisters Great Aunt Win and Great Aunt Charlotte.
Mum eventually started working when she was about fourteen, for a local photographer. She painted black and white photo's as there was no colour film back in those days. The photographer's family wanted to take her with them when they relocated to America but Lala vetoed this idea as she thought Mum too young.
Mum started training to be a nurse when she was seventeen, but was unable to take her finals owing to contracting pleurisy.
She told us of a time (during WW") when she was at the top of Chatham Hill, on her way to the Hospital, when there was an air raid; quite a frightening experience. However, she was grabbed by two rather large young sailors who swept her off her feet and ran her down the hill to safety. Apparently, her feet didn't touch the ground all the way!
In 1940, the family house was bombed and Lala and the girls returned to live in the village of Alturnun. This was one of Mum's happiest times. She recalled getting the harvest in and being thrown up on the hay wain where the 'village idiot' would be trying to catch and kiss all the ladies.
At one time she volunteered to go and get some rope from the farmhouse. She was tossed up on top of a shire horse with no idea how to steer- or hold on! The horse plodded straight to the farm where she was met by the farmer's wife, who handed her the rope, said 'Giddyup' to the horse, and Mum bounced all the way back, all without falling off. She retained a fond feeling for big horses for the rest of her life.
[note from Sandra- my Mum, Audrey's sister Eileen, was sitting one day in the outside privvy. It had a heart shaped ventilation hole in the door. A cow stuck its head through and nearly scared her witless. It stayed outside for ages, trapping her in the privvy. She was scared of cows for the rest of her life].
Audrey and her sisters made a lasting impression on the village. Not to upset the locals, the family would attend church at St Nonna's and then the following week, go to services at the Wesleyan Chapel.
Mum walked out with a few young men from what we can gather. There was an American airman, Eddie. Unfortunately, he was posted off and Mum heard nothing from him. It turns out that Lala was hiding all his letters- she didn't want her daughter disappearing off to America.
There was also a local farmer, Percy Maunder, who adored Mum, and things might have been different if Bill Lord, a dashing young man from the Air Force, hadn't turned up and swept her off her feet!
Six children were born to them over the next 10 years.
[note from Sandra - I remember Auntie Audrey saying to me that if she had known she was going to have 3 girls and 3 boys, she would have called them Tom, Dick and Harry and Faith, Hope and Charity!]
We travelled with Mum and dad to various RAF camps all over Great Britain and Germany.
Mum belonged to the families Clubs and she had phenomenal luck, always winning boxes of chocolates, smellies, bottles of wine etc. So, of course, when the National Lottery started we persuaded ourselves she was bound to win - another dream shattered!
Dad was posted to Germany again, but we didn't go with him. Instead we moved to a house in King's Lynn where Mum took up nursing again as an Auxilliary on the maternity ward at the local hospital. One day whilst hurrying to leave to catch her bus, a patient begged her for a bedpan and not wanting to incommode! her, she ran in to get one. Whilst flying back down the corridor she slipped, dropped the bedpan, landed on it and sailed through the doors with great aplomb. They don't make bedpans like that any more!
Every Christmas she worked and she would come home quite tipsy, saying she'd had a drink in every ward, though she never did tell us how many wards there were!
Our prodigal father returned and, on retirement from the RAF, took a job with Cossors in Harlow. Mum obtained work as a carer at an Old People's Home just down the road and took an 'O level' in Creative Writing. It wasn't long before Dad took up his old habits and so when Mum was offered the chance to become a Borstal Matron (helped by our Uncle Peter), we persuaded her to take it, even though we were in Essex and the job was in Yorkshire.
So off she went, leaving Dad behind. It was the best decision she ever made.
Whilst there, she learnt to drive. The instructor described how to turn right and they set off. He stressed that she had to gently steer and not wrench the wheel round. Having gently turned the wheel (but not actually looking where she was going), she arrived on the opposite pavement across the junction.
'Oh' she said 'What do we do now?'. He replied 'Never mind what we do now, get this bloody car off the bloody pavement!'
It was a short time after that she gave up on the driving lessons!
On retiring, she started looking for a house to buy. Heather and Tom spent many a weekend ferrying her about, looking at properties. There was a suitable house in Frome but, half way through the process of buying it, Mum went on holiday with a friend to Cornwall and succumbed to the call of her happier times and bought a cottage in St Agnes instead. It was a lovely place and the family made many trips down to see her.
While she was in Cornwall, she re-discovered her artistic taleny and took up china painting, producing lots of wonderful plates for friends, children and grandchildren. There was bull for Tom (Taurus); fish for Heather (Pisces) and a gooseberry for Suzanne because Dad called her 'Hairy Goosegog'! At one time she asked her grandson Kieran what he would like on a plate and he said 'pizza', so that's what he got! (He was a lot younger then!)
As Mum grew older, she started to get nasty chest infections every year and then started having falls so the old outhouses in Heather's garden were refurbished into a granny annex and she moved in.
Heather would often take Mum on holiday. They went to various places including Italy, the Scilly Isles, back to Alternun (where people still remembered her) and once to Dublin where they were persuaded to be cocktail judges. Mum and the demon drink again!
Mum bought a mobility scooter. Unfortunately, nobody had taken into account that Mum had no spatial awareness and hadn't a clue how to drive the thing. Many a happy hour we spent, taking our lives in our hands attempting to teach her but to no avail. We were left traumatised and somewhat injured but she never did get the hang of the blasted thing!
Mum lived in the annex for fourteen years or so before she was diagnosed with Dementia and the decision was made that she be cared for at Chaxhill Hall. As the Dementia progressed it became obvious that all her happy, go-to times were when she lived in Cornwall as a girl, a young lady, a new bride and as a retiree.
Into the freedom of wind and sunshine
We let you go.
Into the dance of the stars and planets
We let you go
Into the wind's breath and the hands of the star maker
We let you go
We love you, we miss you, we want you to be happy
Go safely, go dancing, go running home.
Rest In Peace Audy Lordy