Charmian Whitmell (1938 – 2019)

Charmian passed away peacefully after a short illness on 3rd November. A Thanksgiving Service was held at St. Michael’s Church, Blewbury on 19th November.

Charmian and Derek Whitmell moved to Blewbury in 1965 as a young married couple with their baby Clare, who was their first child. They stayed there for 23 years, increasing their family with three more children (Nick, Andy and Anne) and then moved to Upton in 1988 where they have lived for the last 31 years. Charmian split her loyalties between the two villages. She sang in the St Michael’s Church Choir for 42 years right up until her short terminal illness prevented her from continuing a few weeks ago. In her earlier days in Blewbury her excellent soprano voice was put to good use in five community operas in St Michael’s Church. She also served as a foundation governor at Blewbury School for many years, was involved in the Churn Benefice Pastoral Care team, helped as a volunteer training young people at Style Acre Café, and in her Grahame Close years utilised her nursing skills to offer treatment for minor injuries for the children of the Close from her kitchen work-surface and washing machine. In Upton, she was known best for the annual play-readings and her support behind the book stall at the annual fete.

Charmian was originally an Essex girl, living in Brentwood and Wickford, before going off first to boarding school in Eastbourne after her parents divorced, and then later to train as a registered sick children’s nurse (RSCN) at the Children’s Hospital at Great Ormond Street in London. She remained there working as a staff nurse before moving to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, where she obtained her SRN qualification and met and married Derek. Years later after her children had all started school she returned to nursing ,working at Didcot Hospital for 16 years, and then at Winterbrook Nursing Home in Wallingford until her retirement in 1995. After her retirement she worked for 15 years as a volunteer at Basildon Park, where among other things she helped with the arrangements for the filming of Pride and Prejudice. One task she seemed to particularly enjoyed seems to have been showing Colin Firth around the National Trust property, and was quoted in the Oxford Mail as having said that he was just as gorgeous in real life as he was in the films!

Charmian was very well liked by a wide range of people, and was well known as a very caring, thoughtful, funny, gentle and sociable woman. She had a very deep Christian faith and her commitment to expressing that through her life and work was unstinting. She contributed a great deal to the wider community of Blewbury and Upton and will be sorely missed by many.

Derek and her family want to thank all the many people who have sent cards and letters of condolence to them in the period since her death.