Myra Louisa Dowding

Myra Louisa Dowding has died at the age of 107. Myra was born and brought up in Upton and used to play the organ at St. Mary’s. Her father (or was it grandfather?) was Thomas Butler who has a tombstone in the graveyard by the church. Up until recently when she was taken into the JR, she lived on her own, supported by carers, in the parish of St. Peter’s Didcot.

The funeral will take place at St Mary’s on Monday 3rd November at 11am.

Tony West

Tony West died on June 23rd after a short illness.

Tony West was a much-loved husband, father and grandfather, a very good friend to so many and a pillar of our village community.

He was born in Penarth; and it was here that he developed his two big interests in life, everything to do with nature and a love of music. At the age of 13 he started playing the organ in his parish church and so started a lifelong love of organs and organ music. After leaving school Tony went on to study Electrical Engineering at Cardiff Technical College. In 1962 he moved to this area to work for UKAEA, first at Harwell and later at Culham where he stayed until he retired in 1993.

Also in 1962 Tony married Jessie and they moved into their present bungalow as soon as it was completed. Soon after moving to Upton, Tony started playing the organ at Hagbourne church, 10 years later he became full time organist at both Upton and Blewbury and played there and at other churches in the local benefice from then onwards. He was a churchwarden at St Mary’s for the last 20 years and spent countless hours helping to maintain the church and the churchyard. He was particularly involved during the interregnum, and the new lighting, which he designed and installed, will be a long-lasting memorial.

Nor did it take long for Tony to begin his massive contribution to the wider village community. As far back as 1967 he was one of the team who decided that Upton needed a new village hall to replace the existing wooden shed. There was a good deal of self-help involved and Tony was in charge of anything electrical. He was never far away when anything had to be done in the village. Time and again he and Jessie organised functions in the village hall and he became the expert mover of chairs and tables, he helped at the annual fete or simply with something that needed doing to tidy up the village. Only a month ago he was busy in the recreation ground doing his bit on the grass-cutting rota. For several years Tony served on the parish council, including a stint as its chairman.

Tony was also always prepared to help someone in need. He was an original member of the Local Ministry Team for the benefice and on his retirement from UKAEA he undertook voluntary work installing and maintaining personal alarms for the elderly. So many in the village will recollect occasions when his expertise with electrics or computers rescued them in an emergency.

For all these reasons, as well as for his placid good humour, his perpetual goodwill and tolerance, and his selfless service Tony will be sadly missed, by his family, by his countless friends and by our whole community. We thank him for all he did for us.

Stan Lynch

Stan Lynch from the Upton Cider Farm died in hospital on January 8th 2008.

STANLEY LYNCH 1921-2008

Stan had been in hospital quite a lot over the past three months but he always returned home to his place in the orchard. It was very fitting that this last hospital visit was short.

Stan was a very proud and independent man and he had been self-sufficient all his life. It was this, together with his stubbornness and determination within his character that enabled him to achieve the things he did during his lifetime.

He was born in Salford in 1921, and his father suffered greatly from his experiences during the First World War, which created some difficulties, both emotional and financially, during Stanley’s early years. His mother struggled and worked extremely hard to make ends meet and Stanley earned money with small jobs in his early years to help supplement his mother’s income.

He struggled with school and as soon as he was able to, he left and took an apprenticeship with an electrical firm. When the Second World War started, rather than waiting to be called up Stanley decided to enlist in the Royal Navy. He didn’t want to be conscripted into the army given his father’s experiences in the first war, and he certainly wasn’t having anything to do with, as he put it “those Brillcream Boys” of the Air Force.

Stanley had quite a distinguished career in the Navy during the war, serving a lot in North Africa, and he was awarded the British Empire Medal, a fact of which he was inordinately proud for disarming a torpedo that had been washed up on a beach just north of Gambia in a vital location.

Towards the end of his time in the Royal Navy he was promoted to Petty Officer and became an instructor at the Chatham Torpedo School, where he taught the intricacies of minesweeping.

After the war Stanley left the Royal Navy and joined the Merchant Navy sailing around the world on some of the luxury liners, mostly with the Cunard Line as an Electrical Engineer Officer. He had some wonderful stories to tell about his times at sea and I think it was a time in his life, which, even though it was difficult, he really enjoyed.

After his time at sea and having moved around the country quite a lot with various jobs, coming further south each time, he eventually took a complete career change and decided to go into teaching and became a Lecturer in electrical engineering in Oxford. Given the fact that he struggled with his early education this really was a brave step and took a lot of determination and hard work on his part to achieve success but, as with everything else he took on as a challenge in his life, he stuck with it and it was a change that he made a success of and found fulfilling.

It was this stubbornness and determination that enabled him to tackle his most challenging project and create what is now known as The Upton Fruit Farm. In 1968 Stan bought the 16-acre meadow in Upton that was to become the cider orchard. He planted the cider apple trees in the early seventies, and in 1973 he got permission to build himself a thatched house in the young orchard. Initially he was refused permission to build a house there, but he stuck with it, and eventually got permission and built up the house and the business.

The cider apples were at first sold to the Taunton Cider Company and used to make Blackthorn Cider. In 1983, Stan decided to make his own cider in his orchard and formed the Upton Cider Company. He also decided to make the orchard organic which although common now was a bold and innovative step at that time.

In 1999, aged then 78, he decided to slow down a little and sold the business to Robert and Valerie Fitchett, but he continued to live in the orchard and to help with the annual cider making. His advice and knowledge led to Upton Sweet Cider being judged by CAMRA to be the best English Cider in both 2004 and 2005.

Over the last couple of years his health had deteriorated somewhat and he suffered a lot of pain from his arthritis, but he continued to be as independent as he could. He relied very much upon the help and kindness of his friends and neighbours, who enabled him to stay in a home he loved for as long as possible.

I asked Stan once whether he had any regrets in his life and he told me he wished he discovered the pleasure of the orchard years and years earlier. Having helped with the harvest for the past several years I understand completely the pleasure and peace that living and working in the orchard provides. The annual harvest will never quite be the same again, Stan will be sorely missed.

Graham De Wilde

Erica Schumacher

Erica Schumacher (1912-2007) – A long life well lived

Erica, how we admired her mental and physical agility while acknowleging her age never thinking of her as old.

To quote a member of her family, Erica was a remarkable and in most ways admirable person. She was above all an adventurer but paradoxically she combined a good measure of rebellion with extreme conformity. She was determinedly independent, yet obsessivlely aware of social status. In quick order she could leave you gaping incredulously at the vehemence of her opinions; fill you with admiration for her intelligence, honesty and determination or drive you to distraction by her readiness to judge and criticize – frequently unfairly. She had lived life to the full and she had a very strong sense of her own place in this universe. She had little time and patience for what she considered to be trivial or irrelevant to her life. Like any true adventurer she suffered many setbacks but had the mental resilience and strength to overcome the immediate obtacles, to re-ground herself and to fulfil any obligations accrued along the way. True to the rest of her life she left us on June 29th in her own place and on her own terms. We have been enriched and stimulated by her presence. She will be a hard act to follow.

Jessie

Mary Bucknell

Sadly, April 5th saw the death of Mary Bucknell who had lived in Upton since 1944.

Continue Reading Mary Bucknell

Diana Milford-Cottam

Died on 20th March aged 92.

Diana was very interested in and knowledgeable about ballet, opera and the fine arts. In fact she and her husband George were largely instrumental in the formation and establishment of the Goring and District Fine Arts Society. Over the last twenty-five years this has gone from strength to strength – to the extent that over three hundred people now attend the monthly lectures. She was also a member of St Mary’s Parochial Church Council.

She had lived a life full of interest, spending some time in South America, and finally retiring to Upton in about 1990.

The burial took place on the 29th following a service at St Mary’s Church. She is survived by her husband.

Tom Suttar

20.06.1929 – 16.01.2006

Tom and I have lived in Upton for 42 years and during the time have seen many changes. But one thing never changes, the village camaraderie and neighbourliness. The number of cards and words of sympathy I have received has been quite overwhelming and I thank you all for your tremendous support at this sad time.

Nan

Charles Bernard Aldridge

23.11.1913 – 07.01.2006

As our dad was one of the oldest inhabitants of Upton, Pauline and I thought an epitaph in the Upton News would be appropriate. Charlie, as he was known by most people, was one of three brothers born and brought up in Blewbury. He moved to Upton in May 1939 after his marriage to our mother Grace. He was called up for war service in December 1939 and served in the 8th Army until severe back injuries, sustained in a train crash in Italy, brought him home permanently just before the war ended. Pauline was born in May 1946 and I followed ten years later in March 1956. Dad always had a great love of music and played the cornet regularly in Cholsey Silver Band, often taking part in concerts. He would love to entertain everyone at the slightest opportunity with his enthusiastic harmonica playing, whether people wanted to listen or not!! He was also a member of Blewbury Bellringers at St. Michael’s for many years. Sadly our mother Grace passed away in February 1982, without having the pleasure of seeing her grandchildren grow and develop into the fine young people they have become.

Dad continued to live alone for the rest of his life, taking care of himself and his home with very little supervision. His garden was his pride and joy, all vegetables were grown in regimented rows with labels indicating their whereabouts. He always seemed Charles Bernard Aldridge to grow enough produce to feed the whole village and would send visitors away with huge bags of wonderful goodies!! He was always immaculate in his appearance and was a familiar sight in the village wearing his trilby hat and pulling along his shopping trolley which would be bursting at the seams after his weekly shopping trip to Didcot on the bus.

Unfortunately, after breaking an arm in a very bad fall in March 2005, which required surgery and several weeks in hospital, dad became very reclusive and increasingly frail. Regular care was provided at home, allowing him to retain his independence until he passed away on 7 January.

He was a very dear father to both of us, a kind and affectionate grandfather to Carol, Lynsey, Ben and Felicity, always taking an interest in their lives and delighted by the mischief and antics of his two little greatgrandaughters, Eden and Brooke.

Dad’s funeral took place on 18th January and we were all extremely touched to see so many in attendance. The service was not so much a funeral but a celebration of his life, conducted by Rev. Louise Butler. We would also like to thank everyone for their kind and generous donations to Little Foxes Wildlife Care. Dad lived in the country all his life and would have been delighted to see money being used to help such a worthy cause.

Unity Amos

Monica Rowbotham

1909-2005

Dr Monica arrived in Upton a quarter of a century ago: a retired child psychologist of some note. St Mary’s soon discovered that she could play the organ and was a keen Anglican. Many will celebrate her church life. On the PCC she was Deanery Synod representative from 1982-93. From 1984-95 she was a churchwarden, and the church throve under her quiet guidance. Her reading of lessons was spellbinding and her knowledge of Scripture profound. At entertainments in the village hall, Monica would be an enthusiastic thespian: her Albert and the Lion was wonderful and as Lady Bracknell her “A Handbag!” outshone Edith Evans. Her memory of long poems was enviable and her dramatic rendering of The Mermaid had us in fits of laughter. We discovered her ability as a teacher of recorder and piano, and the bond she had with young people. With recorder, viols and keyboard ability, Monica became involved in groups such as the Friday trio, where she played viola da gamba, and playing Bach and Monteverdi’s Arianna with Sine Nomine singers. It has always been rare to find in one person so many talents coupled with a warm heart and a keen mind. She always spared time to discuss the problems of others and the state of the nation. Today, we thank the Good Lord that she was here and celebrate the life of a great lady.

David Dendy
(An abridged eulogy given on 7 July at her funeral)

John Greenfield

Many in the village will remember John and Elizabeth Greenfield who lived here for many years before moving to East Sussex.

Elizabeth’s tapestry remains on the wall in the church, and who could forget the youthful church choir of the ’80s with their striking cassocks and surplices for which she was responsible. Always in support was the delightfully enthusiastic John.

But alas, John died peacefully at St. Michael’s Hospice, Hastings on 10 October 2002 after an illness of four years. For all those who knew him this is very sad news.

John Grimshaw