Herbert George Surridge, married my aunt, Kate Elizabeth Hume
on Christmas day, 1914, four months after the start of the first
world war, at All Saints Church in Plumstead. Herbert was aged
25 and Kate was aged 22. Herbert’s sister Hilda May Surridge
and grandfather John Hume signed the register as witnesses.
Herbert and Kate were known to the family as Bert and Kitty.
Herbert was born at his family home in Finchley, Middlesex,
on 26th Feb. 1889, and Kate was born at the Hume family home
in Portland Place, Plumstead, on 18th June 1892. The marriage
certificate identifies that Herbert Surridge was a Police Constable.
Brenda’s grandparents were Herbert Surridge and Ellen
Warner. Grandfather Herbert was born in 1866 at Pavenham, Bedford,
and grandmother Ellen was born in 1865 at Brentford, Middlesex.
They were married in 1888 in Barnet, Middlesex.
Brenda’s father Herbert was the eldest of six children.
Following his birth in 1889, Violet was born in 1893, next was
Hilda in 1894, then Harold in 1895, William in 1898, and finally
Olive in 1900.
When Brenda was born, her elder brother Gordon Herbert Surridge
was aged nine and her sister Marjorie Constance Surridge was
seven. Her brother Gordon, was born on 18th October 1915, at
Belsize Rd, Hampstead, and her sister Marjorie was also born
at this address on 31st May 1917.
Two years prior to Brenda’s birth, our grandfather, John
Hume had died on 6th April 1922, he was aged 71 years, and was
buried in Woolwich Cemetery. The death certificate states that
the cause of death was Carcinoma of the throat. His body was
borne from the family home of 101 Barnfield Road, Plumstead,
to his grave, on a Royal Artillery Gun Carriage as a mark of
respect for his long service in the Regiment of the Royal Artillery.
He was buried in the same grave as that of his daughter Margaret
who had sadly died on 9th Feb. the previous year. Margaret was
Brenda’s uncle, Frank Hume aged 22, married Marie Violet
Kemp aged 20, just before Brenda was born on 19th January 1924.
At some time before Brenda was born in May 1924, the Surridge
family had moved back to Plumstead, from Hampstead, and were
living at 76 Princes Road, very close to where Kate was born,
and within a stones throw from the ‘Hume’, family
home at 101 Barnfield Road. At this time Herbert’s occupation
was that as Canteen Steward, still with the Metropolitan Police.
It is thought that Herbert suffered with a stomach Ulcer and
was medically unfit to carry out the duties of a Police Constable,
and had transferred to a job in the Police canteen.
The General Strike took place in 1926, when Brenda was just
two years old. Most working class families were seriously affected
by the strike, but as Herbert was in the Police force, their
regular family weekly wage would still have been coming into
On 4th January 1927, Kate’s brother William Thomas Hume,
her elder brother aged 38, married Edith Agnes Sherbourne at
the Woolwich Register Office. This was the second marriage for
both of them.
One of Brenda’s earliest memories was of my dad, John
Robert Hume, placing her on his shoulders, while he was wearing
his full Grenadier Guards dress uniform, and she remembers burying
her head in his Busby, she was probably aged three or four at
On the 2nd May,1930, Kate’s brother, my father, John
Robert Hume was demobbed from the Grenadier Guards, after a
seven year engagement. Later that year on 3rd November John
married my mother Kate Parslow, at Woolwich Register Office.
His younger brother Frank and his older sister Isabella signed
the Register as witnesses. My father was aged 32, and my mother
was aged 25. My mother and father lived with grandmother Mary
Hume at 101 Barnfield Road. My mother was called ‘Queenie’,
as her mother was also called Kate. My mother’s family
lived in Bristol, but my mother was working at 228 Blackfriars
Road, London, in service, when they got married.
On the 26th January 1931, my brother John Robert Hume was born
at 101 Barnfield Road and was baptised on 1st March at All Saints
Church, Herbert Road, and it is likely that all the Hume family
attended the Christening service. Brenda would have been aged
almost seven and there would almost certainly have been a family
get together afterwards.
On 14th November 1932, my sister Mary Agnes Isabel Hume was
born at the British Hospital Samual Street, Woolwich. My family
were still living with grandmother at 101 Barnfield Road at
Brenda’s mother Kate sadly died on 21st March 1933, aged
40. The death certificate identifies that she died of Pulmonary
Tuberculosis at their home at 4 Brookhill Row, Herbert Road.
Herbert was present at her death, and registered the death the
following day. Herbert had changed jobs at that time and was
recorded on the certificate as a Butchers Outfitter’s
Packer. Kate was buried at Woolwich Cemetery, in an unmarked
grave. Brenda was almost nine years old
At some stage prior to Kate’s death, possibly as early
as 1931, Marjorie and Brenda had gone to live with their aunt
Agnes, at 76 Flaxton Road, Plumstead. Aunt Agnes was unmarried
and shared the house with a friend Miss Miskin who was a teacher
at a local infant’s school. It would appear that aunt
Agnes carried out the housekeeping duties. They were both very
religious, and regularly attended ‘The People’s
Hall’ The Slade, Plumstead Common, which was situated
very close to their house not far from Plumstead Common. Brenda
was aged about seven years, and Marjorie was aged 14. Gordon
who was aged almost 16, was working at J Thorn & Co. Long
Lane in Bexleyheath, and was living with grandmother at 101
Barnfield Road. Gordon was studying for an accountancy degree.
It would seem that Brenda’s father, Herbert Surridge,
decided that he was either unable or unwilling to keep the family
together as a unit after his wife Kate died, and agreed to the
arrangement with his daughter’s living with aunt Agnes
and Miss Miskin. There may have been a problem with trying to
hold a job down and looking after his family at the same time,
combined with financial constraints and medical problems.
After leaving school, possibly in 1933, Marjorie worked as a
clerical assistant at the Woolwich Equitable Building Society,
in Woolwich. David Hume my brother, was born on 11th November
1934 at the British Military Hospital, Samual Street, Woolwich,
and the family address listed on the Birth Certificate was now,
4 Brookhill Row, Herbert Road, Plumstead, the same house that
Brenda’s family were living in prior to Kate’s death,
so it would appear that after Kate died, my family took over
the tenancy of the house in Brookhill Row. David was baptised
on 13th Jan.1935, at All Saints Parish Church, Herbert Road.
Brenda attended Bloomfield Road, Primary School in 1935 and
was academically quite good, as she entered a competition and
won an award certificate for writing a ‘Safety First’
essay. She also was gifted musically and attended the Woolwich
Centre of the Guildhall School of Music, and was awarded certificates
with Honours, in April and December. 1936 for passing examinations
in the Rudiments of Music, and Pianoforte playing.
Although Brenda was now living at 76 Flaxton Road, each Saturday
morning she would walk to 101 Barnfield Road to visit our grandmother.
She recalled sitting with her in the back room of the very small
terraced house, in front of the black fire range, while grandmother
would tell her stories about the Irish little people, and the
Leprechauns, as they looked into the burning embers of the fire.
Grandmother would always have one of the old stone bottles of
ginger beer sitting in the hearth, together with a jar of mustard
pickles. On occasions grandmother would smoke a clay pipe. Brenda
would stay for a couple of hours and then walk back to 76 Flaxton
Road. Brenda also remembered that the house had a long narrow
garden, with a long path, and that an aspidistra was in the
window of the small front room.
Brenda attended Sunday School at ‘The People’s
Hall’ The Slade, and was also an active member of the
Girls Life Brigade. One of her very good friends was Audrey
101 Barnfield Road was situated on the left hand side of the
road at the top, approaching it from Plumstead Common Road,
and Brenda remembered that the neighbours were very kind people.
Not far from the house was a council yard where the road steamrollers
were kept, and Brenda was fascinated by the noise and smell
of these vehicles.
In 1936, Brenda attended King’s Warren Grammar School
for Girls that was situated by Plumstead Common.
My brother Geoffrey Allan Hume was born on 20th March, 1937,
at the British Military Hospital, Samual Street, and was baptised
at All Saints Parish Church on 2nd May. Also on 2nd May a son
Malcolm Hume was born to Frank and Marie Hume at home at 64
Barnfield Road. Frank’s occupation listed on the Birth
Certificate was ‘Central Market Butcher’. Malcolm
was baptised on 30th May at All Saints Parish Church.
On December 11th 1936, King Edward V111 abdicated the throne,
and the next day King George V1 ascended the throne. On the
12th May, 1937, the Coronation of King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth
took place. All school children in the Metropolitan Borough
of Woolwich were presented with a suitably inscribed book to
commemorate this occasion, we have Brenda’s copy.
Brenda was awarded a Pupils Certificate with Honours, Junior
Division, in December 1937 from the Trinity College of Music,
for the following subjects: Notation, Time, Intervals, and Terms.
Brenda was also awarded another certificate in June 1938 for
an examination taken in 1937 at the Woolwich local centre of
the Trinity College of Music, for Junior Theory.
Brenda won the first prize with honours for Scriptural Diligence
at The Slade in 1938.
On 6th June 1939 I was born at the British Hospital, Samual
Street, Woolwich., and on 2nd July, my sister Mary and I were
Christened at All Saints Parish Church, Herbert Road. Mary was
On 3rd September 1939 England declared war on Germany.
At the outbreak of war in 1939, Brenda was evacuated to live
with a family in Maidstone, Kent. She was aged 15 at that time.
She was very unhappy with this move and only stayed there for
a month before she returned home to Flaxton Road. Audrey’s
mum and dad brought her home.
Brenda’s brother Gordon, married Eileen Nora Kennedy,
on 16th December 1939. Gordon was aged 25 and Eileen was 22.
They were married at St Michael and All Angels Parish Church,
Plumstead. Their addresses were 11 and 12 Congress Road. The
marriage certificate identifies that Gordon’s occupation
was that of ‘Clerk’, and that of his father Herbert,
‘Boot repairer’. Sadly it would appear that no members
of the Hume family, other than Marjorie and Brenda attended
Gordon’s wedding, and neither did Gordon’s father.
Marjorie and Brenda stood outside the church but were not allowed
inside to see the ceremony, and were also not allowed to attend
the wedding reception which was held at Eileen’s parents’
house. Eileen and her family appear to have been treated rather
badly by the Hume family, although Eileen and grandmother Mary
were close. Unfortunately Gordon’s friend who was taking
the wedding photographs, experienced problems with his camera,
and the only picture that survived of Gordon and Eileen at about
that time was taken a week or so later in the garden of their
new house, when Eileen put her wedding dress back on and they
posed for the picture.
In 1940 Gordon Surridge enlisted in the RAF Volunteer Reserve,
Sometime in 1939/1940 grandmother’s house, 101 Barnfield
Road, suffered serious bomb damage. The 1938/39 Electoral List
shows that grandmother, auntie Isabella, Gordon Surridge, and
auntie Annie Louisa (auntie Ciss), were living there at that
time. Following the house sustaining the damage, grandmother
went to live with aunt Agnes and miss Miskin at 76 Flaxton Road.
Schooling was seriously disrupted by the war and the bombing
raids, and in early 1940 Brenda attended ‘Home Tuition
Classes’, that were organised from the LCC Plumstead Central
School. Brenda was preparing for the London University Matriculation
examinations. She was due to sit the examinations in September
1940, but the air raids on London made this impossible, however
her Tutor Eileen Humphrey, wrote a reference for Brenda on the
23rd September 1940, explaining the situation, and stated that
had she taken the exams she would undoubtedly have passed. The
reference also outlines that Brenda had always expressed a desire
to enter the nursing profession, and that her tutor felt that
she would ideally be suited to undertake a nursing career, and
had the right kind of qualities.
On the 24th September 1940, The minister of The People’s
Hall, The Slade, Rev. Russell – Jones, wrote an open reference
for Brenda, for a specific position, which was probably as a
child helper at a children’s nursery run by the Bucks
County Education Committee in Slough. Brenda stayed in lodgings
while she worked at the nursery, and was there from September
1940 until June 1941.
In July 1941, another reference was written for Brenda by Walker
Heddle, who was The Peoples Hall, secretary, and Sunday School
superintendent, recommending her to a future employer, this
was almost definitely to enable Brenda to be accepted into her
nursing training position.
On the 2nd August,1941 Brenda commenced her nursing training
at Oldchurch County Hospital, Romford in Essex, aged 17.
On 23rd March, 1942, aunt Agnes married a widower Mr Arthur
Henry Wood at ‘The Peoples Hall’, which was probably
where they first met. Aunt Agnes was aged 59, and Mr Wood a
widower aged 60, Both Brenda and Marjorie moved from 76 Flaxton
road and went to live with Mr & Mrs Wood at 67 Vernham Road
Plumstead. Brenda was away undertaking her training most of
the time but she would travel back for the odd weekend when
convenient, and when she had periods of leave.
On 27th April, 1942, Gordon Herbert Surridge died after being
shot down and fatally injured on a bombing mission over Rostock,
Germany, the previous day. He was a Sgt Gunner/ navigator, and
his plane, a Stirling Mk 1, was attacked by a Messerschmitt
110. He died of his wounds in Tondor Hospital, Rends, Denmark.
He was buried in the Allied Military Plot, Aabenraa Cemetery,
Denmark. He was aged 26.
On 6th June 1944, the D day landings took place.
On the 16th July 1944 Mary, Geoffrey and I were evacuated to
Ugborough in Devon after the enemy bombing became intense. This
was the last wave of evacuation for children from London under
a Governmental programme called ‘Rivulet’. The Germans
were targeting Woolwich Arsenal, and the ‘Buzz bombs,
(Flying bombs) and V2 rockets’ made the whole of SE London
a very dangerous place to live. John Robert remained at home
to complete his education, as he had just won a technical scholarship.
On 12th August 1944, Brenda’s father, Herbert Surridge
aged 54, married my aunt, Isabella Hume aged 50, at the Woolwich
Register Office. The marriage was witnessed by my father John
Robert and my mother, Kate, ‘Queenie’. Herbert’s
occupation was listed as Asst. Storekeeper, Motor Works, and
Kate’s occupation as that of Coil Winder at Seimans in
On Wednesday 1st November 1944, at 2.30 am, our family home
at 140 Eglinton Road, took a direct hit from a V2 rocket. My
father, mother, grandmother, brother John Robert, and my aunt
Isabella were all killed.
The awful news was told to Mary, Geoffrey and me on Saturday
November. 4th, by the Headmaster of Ugborough Primary School
which we were attending while evacuated in Devon, his name was
William George Beare. Mary was aged twelve, Geoffrey aged seven
and I was aged five years.
The funerals took place on Monday 6th November at the Woolwich
Cemetery and aunt Agnes, uncle Frank, uncle William, Marjorie,
Brenda, and many other members of the family attended. My mother
and father, together with my brother John Robert, and my aunt
Isabella, were buried in an unmarked grave, while my grandmother
was buried in the grave of my grandfather and aunt Margaret,
also unmarked at that time.
At some time following the funerals, Geoffrey and I were sent
from Ugborough to Dartington Hall, in Devon, and Mary was sent
to live with a family in Hope Cove, Kingsbridge, Devon.
On 7th May 1945 there was an unconditional surrender by Germany.
In May 1945, both Geoffrey and I returned to London to live
with aunt Agnes and Uncle Wood. On 17th May Brenda celebrated
her 21st birthday, with a party at 67 Vernham Road. Plumstead.
On 7th June 1945, Brenda was admitted to the General Nursing
Council Register as a Registered State Nurse, having completed
her nursing training at Oldchurch County Hospital, Romford,
Essex. Having qualified as a State Registered Nurse, Brenda
continued working at the Oldchurch County Hospital, and began
specialised midwifery training passing her first examination
set by the Central Midwives Board on 3rd June 1946, and the
second exam on 23rd December 1946.
On 20th November 1947 the Royal wedding took place of Princess
Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
In Febuary 1948 Marjorie commenced training as a Teacher, and
attended Oakley College at Cheltenham Ladies Teacher Training
College, having previously worked for the Woolwich Equitable
In June 1948 Brenda commenced at Causeway Lane, Maternity Hospital,
Leicester. Positions attained were Night Sister and Ward Sister.
On April 5th 1950 Eileen Nora Surridge nee Kennedy, married
her second husband Herbert Archer Scott at St Michael and All
Angels Parish Church in Plumstead. Eileen was aged 32 and Herbert
34. Their respective addresses at that time were listed as 11
Congress St and 61 Borstall Lane, Abbey Wood.
Brenda’s father Herbert, married his third wife Edith
May Stanford on 27th May,1950 at Hendon. They were married at
St Paul’s Parish Church, Finchley. Herbert was aged 61
and Edith, who was a widow, was aged 41. Herbert’s address
was listed as 10 New Trinity Road, Finchley, which was the same
address as that listed on the marriage certificate when he married
Kate Elizabeth Hume on Christmas day 1914. This address was
presumably his parent’s home. Edith’s address was
listed as 215 Long Lane, Finchley.
In Nov.1950, Brenda attended a Midwife Teacher Training College
at High Coombe, Kingston Hill, Surrey for a six month residential
course, which she successfully completed in May 1951.
Aunt Agnes died on 16th February 1951 aged 67, at the home
address of 67 Vernham Road, Plumstead. The death certificate
states that the cause of death was Carcinoma of the Oesophagus.
Uncle Wood was present at the death. I did not attend the funeral
and stayed with some friends of the family at that time.
In September 1951 having passed my 11+ examination, I commenced
school at St Olave’s and St Saviour’s Grammar School
at Bermondsey aged twelve.
In December 1951, Brenda passed the Midwives Teacher’s
Diploma examination, set by the National Midwives Board.
On 6th February 1952, King George V1 died.
In Feb. 1952, Brenda returned to work at the Oldchurch County
In May 1952 Mr Wood put Geoffrey and me into the care of the
London County Council. Geoffrey worked in London as a Commis
Chef, living in digs, and I was sent to live with a Mr &
Mrs Nash, who lived at 33 Burney Street, Greenwich. Geoffrey
was aged 15 and I was aged nearly 13 years.
On 15th August, 1952 auntie Ciss married Andrew Faldon at The
Register Office, Dartford, Kent. Andrew was aged 56 and Auntie
Ciss was aged 55. Uncle Frank and auntie Marie signed the marriage
certificate as witnesses,
Towards the end of August 1952, the family home at 67 Vernham
Road, Plumstead, was sold by Mr A Wood now retired and aged
70, and he bought the bungalow at 133 Pickford lane, Bexleyheath.
This was now the new home for Marjorie and Brenda, who lived
with Mr Wood, and between them kept house for him. Marjorie
was now aged 35 and Brenda was aged 28.
On 1st September 1953, Marjorie and Brenda’s father,
Herbert George Surridge died at his home, 215 Long Lane, Finchley.
His wife Edith was present. Herbert was aged 64. The death certificate
states that the cause of death was Carcinoma, Pancreas. His
occupation was listed as that of Interior Decorator.
In October 1955 Brenda successfully underwent an operation
at Southmead Hospital, Bristol.
Brenda went to Kampala, Uganda as a Midwife in early 1956 and
undertook a couple of overseas tours up to 1959. In 1958 Marjorie
and Brenda went on a safari holiday to Uganda.
Brenda was at Southmead Hospital in 1959/60/61. It is understood
that at sometime during 1960/61 Brenda damaged her back and
was off work for about a year.
On 5th March 1960 Michael Hume aged 20, married Carol Christine
Finch aged 16 at St Barnabas Church, Dulwich. Marjorie and uncle
Wood attended the wedding at the church.
From 22nd to 28th January 1961, Brenda attended a refresher
course for Midwives at Bath.
In 1961 Geoffrey Allan Hume aged 24 married Yvonne Curtis at
Westminster Registry Office.
On 1st January 1962 Andrew Faldon died aged 65, at his home
at “The Elms, Lesney Park, Erith, Kent. He was cremated
at Eltham Crematorium.
In September 1962 Brenda attended a course on photography at
Effra Road, Evening Institute, Brixton. At that time she was
staying at lodgings at 52 Trinity Rise, Tulse Hill, SE 2.
On 27th September 1963, Mary Agnes Isobel Hume aged 30, married
Rupert Horace William Pleece, aged 52 at The Register Office,
On 11th August 1963 Arthur Henry Wood died at Queen Mary’s
Hospital Sidcup. He was aged 81, and his death was notified
by Brenda, as Marjorie was on holiday at that time. In his will
Uncle left the bungalow at 133 Pickford Lane, Bexleyheath, and
his personal chattels to his two nieces, Marjorie and Brenda
in equal shares. The properties that he owned in Eltham, he
left to a number of charities. Brenda took care of all the funeral
On 9thJanuary 1964, uncle Frank aged 60, died at his home,
44 Ridgeway Road, Sidcup, Kent.
In 1964, Brenda accepted the position as Deputy Sister Tutor
at the Redhill County Hospital, which is where she met and became
friends with Audrey Dodd, who had been working at the hospital
since 1946. They remained good friends right up until Brenda
died. Brenda shared a flat whilst at Redhill with Chris Hudson,
and they had a cat called ‘Ling’, they were both
very fond of cats. The position of Head Sister became vacant
later in the year, and Brenda applied for this position. Unfortunately
she was not successful, and resigned toward the end of 1964.
Whilst at Redhill, Brenda also made a good friend of Anne Geraghty,
and they kept in regular touch.
After Audrey married Bill Dodd, Brenda met up with them every
year and they went on holidays together. Bill was a Vicar and
Bill and Audrey were located at vicarages in Herefordshire,
Abergavenny, and Aberdeen, before finally settling in Lugwardine
in Hereford in 1983. On a few occasions they went on holiday
to the Dordogne in France. After 1983 Brenda and her very good
friend Rachel used to visit Audrey, and when Brenda had her
operations on her hips and knees, Audrey would visit Brenda
Brenda accepted the position of Principal Midwife Tutor at
the East End Maternity Hospital Stepney, and was there between
1965 to 1968.
In 1968 Brenda secured a senior Administrative position with
the Lewisham Health District as
senior Divisional Nursing Officer based at Lewisham University
Hospital. She held this position for some eleven years before
retiring in 1979 aged 55 years, after spending 38 years in the
On 17thJanuary 1970, Geoffrey Allan Hume aged 32, married Linda
Elizabeth Wyatt aged 20 at Hitchin Register Office. This was
the second marriage for both of them. Linda’s maiden surname
On 18th October 1970 Mary Agnes Isabel Hume died, aged nearly
38. at the Mount Alvernia Nusing home in Guildford, Surrey.
Her son David who was then aged three came to live with us at
On 5th January 1978, Aunt Mary Ellen died in the Bromley Hospital,
Bromley in Kent. She was aged 88. She had been living at the
Robert Whyte House, Oldfield Road, Bickley, Kent. The certificate
states that she died of a Heart attack.
In 1978, Brenda went on a Cosmos coach holiday to Europe.
On 10th February 1979, Annie Louise Faldon, (aunt Ciss), died
aged 81, at a care home in Bromley. Sydney House, Hawkwood Lane,
In 1979 Brenda retired from her job as Senior Divisional Nursing
Officer at Lewisham district Council after an eleven year period,
and to commemorate and recognise her 38 year nursing career,
she was invited to a tea party at Buckingham Palace.
On 17th May 1980, Marjorie and Brenda went on an Oriana Cruise
visiting, Athens, Rhodes, Cyprus, and Egypt. From 24th October
through to 7th November they went on another cruise on the Oriana
to Barcelona, Tenerife, Palma, Madeira, and Vigo, Spain.
From 15th May through to 29th May, 1981, Marjorie and Brenda
went on another Oriana cruise to Casablanca, Alicante, Cannes,
On 18th April 1986, Marjorie Constance Surridge died aged 68.
She died in the Ambulance on the way to Brook Hospital, Greenwich.
Certificate states that cause of death was due to Myocardial
Infarction, and Coronary Atheroma.. In Marjorie’s Will,
she left her share of the Bungalow at 133 Pickford Lane to Brenda.
In June 1987, Chris and I made contact with Brenda, not having
seen her for some 35 years. She recognised me after all that
time, and made us most welcome. She gave me some very precious
documents, which had been kept in the safe, these consisted
of my father’s army documents, and some of my family’s
birth and death certificates.
In 1988 Brenda went on a Canberra cruise.
Brenda underwent an NHS operation to replace her right hip
In November 1991 aunt Marie Hume died aged 87, widow of Frank
In 1992, Brenda underwent an NHS operation to have her left
knee replaced, and in November 1994 Brenda underwent another
operation to have her right knee replaced.
In 1996, Brenda went into hospital for her left hip replacement
operation; this was done privately as the waiting list on the
NHS was too long.
On March 4th 2000, Michael and Chris renewed their wedding
vows celebrating their 40th Wedding Anniversary, at the New
St Barnabas Church in Dulwich. Brenda and her good friend Rachel
attended the service.
I retired from Dowding and Mills, as a Company Director in
June 2002, and in August while Brenda was on a cruise with her
close friends Rachel and Di, Chris and I stayed at 133 Pickford
Lane, and carried out some tiling in the kitchen, and some decorating
following the installation of a new gas boiler.
Brenda kept in regular telephone contact with all her good
friends, and she would phone Audrey Dodd every Friday night
at 6pm. She would also phone Chris and myself every Sunday morning
at 9.45 am, and we would phone her every Saturday morning at
In late 2004, following a visit to Chris’s cousin in
Toronto, Canada, Chris and I decided that the time was right
to start tracing our family history, of which we knew very little.
At every stage of tracing the family we kept Brenda informed.
Initially she seemed almost disinterested, but as we began to
piece together all the family history, she became more and more
interested, and provided some priceless information, although
we believe that she had wiped out quite a few of the unpleasant
memories from her childhood. I produced some quite complex family
trees, and kept Brenda supplied with all the latest updates.
Following a publication in a local paper in December 2004,
about trying to trace my cousin John Hume we received an invaluable
lead that led us to find his children, although sadly John had
died just three weeks earlier. As a result of that publication
Brenda contacted our cousin Malcolm Hume and we managed to find
out even more background information on the Hume family, and
obtained a picture of my dad.
Continued searching for the ’Parslow’s’,
my mothers family, led us to their family who originated from
Bristol. In a major breakthrough, we finally found my auntie
Amy, my mother’s youngest sister who was born in 1928,
25 years after my mother Kate was born in 1905. We visited auntie
Amy in May 2005. It was a very emotional meeting and she gave
us a picture of my mother with my brother John Robert sitting
on her lap. The picture was dated 21st December 1931.
In October 2005, Chris and I travelled to Thomastown, in County
Kilkenny, Southern Ireland, and visited Pleberstown, where my
great grandparents lived and where my grandmother was born and
christened. We managed to obtain a copy of my grandmothers christening
certificate, and also visited the church of St John in Kilkenny
where my grandparents were married on 8th February 1881. On
our return we compiled all the information and gave it to Brenda.
She was so interested, as she was unaware of the history of
our grandparents, although she knew that grandmother Mary was
born in Ireland.
Chris and I visited Brenda on Saturday,17th December 2005, just
before Christmas After lunch, at Brenda’s request I visited
a few local residential care homes, just to get some idea of
waiting lists, financial costs etc. as Brenda was resigned to
selling the bungalow and going into a home. She had come to
terms with the fact that she could not look after herself, and
she was really only being able to manage with the help of Di
looking after her. She was obviously not looking forward to
loosing her independence and leaving the bungalow, which had
been her base home for the past 54 years. We talked a lot about
what it would entail, and we agreed that prior to any firm decisions
being taken we would make further enquiries and arrange a visit
to some of the more acceptable care homes to get her agreement
on whether she felt she would be happy making one of them her
Brenda was extremely fond of all animals but especially cats.
During Brenda’s lifetime she had had many cats as pets,
and I well remember when I first went to live at 67 Vernham
Road, at the age of six years, the pet cat ‘Tiger’
a very friendly tabby, was Brenda’s cat and she idolised
him. Her last cat ‘Ebby’, a black cat who she had
rescued from a cats home, became very poorly towards the end
of 2005. He had diabetes, and Brenda used to inject him daily,
it’s ironic that Brenda also suffered from diabetes. When
‘Ebby’ became progressively worse Brenda had him
put to sleep, and she was obviously devastated. Looking after
‘Ebby’ was one of the main reasons for her to face
each day, and since that day in October, Brenda’s health
had also deteriorated.
On Wednesday 21st December 2005 we were notified that Brenda
had died in the Lewisham University Hospital, at 11.06 pm while
undergoing an emergency operation for an Acute Ruptured Abdominal
Aortic Aneurysm. She was 81 years old. She had been taken ill
earlier in the day and was suffering intensive pain in her tummy.
Her very good friend Di, who had stayed with Brenda, on occasions
while her health had been progressively deteriorating, had called
the ambulance and she was taken to Woolwich Hospital for the
initial diagnosis, and later transferred to Lewisham University
Hospital for the emergency operation. At her request Brenda
was cremated at Eltham Crematorium, following her funeral service
at St John’s Baptist Church, Erith, on Friday, 6th January
2006. Her ashes were buried in the grave of her mother Kate
Elizabeth, in Woolwich Cemetery, on 27th Feb. 2006, and a headstone
was erected to both Brenda and her mother on Thursday 25th May,