Sunday, September 28, 2008

In memory of Lorna Wilson (1941-2008)

My aunt Lorna Wilson passed away on 13 September 2008. The following is the text from the addresses made at her funeral in St Andrew's Church in Sedbergh in the Yorkshire Dales on 19 September 2008 and also an article in the Sedbergh Lookaround. Photos of Lorna can be seen here.

Address by me

How is it possible to sum up such an extraordinary lady as Lorna in just a few words? A lady who touched all our hearts with her unique personality of humour, irreverence, kindness and above all love.

Well, the first place to start is with Bruce. He was the love of her life and this raven-haired beauty was his. Just as the Dee river runs into the Clough so their souls were and remain inextricably entwined. They were one together and today I thank you Bruce on behalf of us all for being such a loving husband. Lorna was a spirit as free as a wild horse and yet she belonged to you absolutely.

But I thank you also for sharing this special person with so many of us through all the seasons of her life. From your first days at Abbott Holme and the fresh smell of Spring. A time of discovery in which Lorna found her calling as a shepherdess both of the Rough Fell sheep which she nurtured and of the people who would come and sit by the fire and talk over a cup of tea.

Then there were the hot summer days in the fields and by the river. A time when so many people discovered the open house, the warm hearth, the laughter and the love for all. The stories, the jokes, the incredible food and above all, the twinkle in her eye and that Lorna smile.

As the leaves start to turn we remember how Lorna extended her family into the golf club and yet another group of people came to love and admire this lady whose intelligence and gentle humour always allowed her to see the world for what it really was and to communicate that to others through her wise and earthy words.

Then when the frost arrived and Winter set in, the house was warmer than ever. There was time to look back and reminisce. There was time to travel and finally, there was a time to weather the storm and like the trees that bend with the wind, Lorna saw it through with the strength, dignity and concern for others that personified her whole life.

One thing is for sure now. She would not want us to be maudlin and weepy. She was always positive and would undoubtedly want us to remember all the happy and funny times which everyone here will have had with her.

So here we all are supposedly saying goodbye to Lorna. But we will never really say goodbye. She will always be with us – so strong has been her influence on family and close friends. Above all, the love which she gave to so many of us will not only live on but will flourish as we share that spirit with others. As Lorna now enters a new Spring we can remember that her Christian faith was not only important to her but embodied her deeply held values. Her kindness, her fierce opposition to injustice and above all her love. As Christians we would say that she was a true child of God and enriched the lives of all who knew her well. May God bless you Lorna and reward you with a special place in heaven – in the kingdom of our Lord, your shepherd.


Address by Rev Vic Hopkins

Thank you Tim for those personal memories of Lorna.

Apart from the family there are quite a few people here today who will not be familiar with Lorna’s background so I would like to start by filling in a few details of Lorna’s early life. Lorna Veronica Catherine Kevan was the second child of the late Dick and Kate Kevan. She was born on Saturday 22 November 1941 at Kepwick in the North Riding of Yorkshire where her paternal grandfather was vicar.

She was the second eldest of six children having two sisters and three brothers. In 1944 the Kevan family moved to Sedbergh and lived in the temporary accommodation at Pinfold before moving to Beamsmoor in 1947.

Lorna attended the National school in Sedbergh and passed her 11+ examination and went to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School at Kirkby Lonsdale. She was not happy there and two years later after various escapades, which often involved the riding of nearby horses, she was called into the office of the old fashioned and somewhat fierce Head teacher, Mr Defoe who said to her "You're not happy at this school are you?" Lorna replied "No". Mr Defoe, wishing to be addressed in a manner befitting his station, said "No, what?" To which Lorna replied "No, I'm not.” Mr Defoe promptly called an end to Lorna's time at that school.

Lorna finally left school at 15 and went to work with horses at Caton before returning to work in Sedbergh, in Miss Woolcock’s shop and also at the egg packing station at Birks.Her life changed following a New Year’s Eve dance at Sedbergh where she met a young farmer’s son, Bruce Wilson. They fell deeply in love and were married on 21 September 1963 and went to live in the cottage at Abbott Holme which they would occupy for the whole of their married life. Bruce tells me that three weeks after marrying Lorna he broke his leg and for some months it was in plaster – one can only wonder at what Lorna’s comments were at the time!She became a true dale farmer’s wife and helped with all the jobs on the farm. Her particular interest was Rough Fell sheep and she could handle all the tasks that accompanied this passion – no matter what time of day or year they might be needed.

Later there came the planning and building of the Sedbergh Golf Course – an enterprise that Lorna put her whole heart into. Anyone who ever faced a ‘full monty’ there is unlikely to forget the experience.

I have heard many stories and anecdotes about Lorna and these are few of them:

* She really enjoyed living at Beamsmoor because they were next to the Milburns and practised swearing so that they could be like them.

* [A nephew said] The one thing I loved the most about Lorna was that she had a naughty side. When I was little, I thought it was the best thing in the world because I thought all adults were sensible and not naughty. She used to spoil us with as much chocolate, fry ups and pop combined with non-stop swear words that would have as all in stitches! Lorna - WE LOVE YOU.

* Oh, what a naughty laugh.

* “Hey up, lad, do you fancy a brew?”

* Lorna’s mash potatoes were lush – the best ever.

* [Bruce and Lorna] never stood on ceremony and you could relax and be a kid there. You were always treated as an independent person and were allowed to scrump apples from the tree in the garden!* I remember after Bridget's funeral David and I were standing in Granny's kitchen feeling very sad (the rest of my family were all on holiday at the time and so only myself and Dave attended). Then Lorna came over and said "eh you Lyle gannets!" It just broke the tension and made us smile.

And one of my own:
My wife Linda and I went to play golf one day and mentioned it was our wedding anniversary. As we finished our round and returned to the golf house – she gave us a bottle of wine to celebrate. It was so typical of her.

It is easy to think that Lorna’s life was idyllic and untroubled. This is not so for she had to come to terms with not having any children of her own, the early death of her sister Bidget, the death of Ollie Statham, the breakdown of relationships leading to the changes at the Golf Course and, of course, her own terminal illness. Yet none of this darkened her outlook on life.

Her brother Richard uses the words:
Distinct, Special, Incomparable, Unmatched, Without equal, Inimitable.
Words with which I am sure that all of us who knew Lorna would agree.

She was earthy, kind and generous. There are a large number of people who can testify to that - none more so than Andrew Mattinson and Neill Ferguson. For many people the cottage at Abbott Holme became a warm, safe refuge from the harshness of the world.

We have heard of the strength and constancy of Lorna and Bruce’s love for each other and their concern for the people around them.Jesus Christ gave us two great commandments – the second of which was, “love your neighbour as yourself.” Well, for my money Lorna was the epitome of that. She was not one to take a narrow view of anyone – unless they were being pompous. She was not judgemental, she was realistic about people and always embraced people for what they were, “warts ‘n all.

This realism extended to her own final illness – she was fully aware and it fitted into her understanding of life and her confidence of the future. She didn’t proclaim her Christian beliefs in words but in deeds: in her love and care for others. Her Christianity was highly personal but gave her courage in her last battle. She gained comfort from the fact that she understood the meaning of the resurrected life that flowed from the love of God. She didn’t talk about it she just lived it with a joy and zest for life that is the envy of us all.

We can be assured that she is now embraced, safe and comfortable in the love of God.


Lookaround, October 2008
The following appeared in the October 2008 edition of the Sedbergh Lookaround. The original can be seen here.

LORNA WILSON..........
on behalf of many friends.

Where oh where do we start ? They surely broke the mould when they made Lorna. The lovely, loveable, amusing Loma, unique in many ways, came into most of our lives with the advent of Sedbergh's new golf coursein the early 90's.

Lorna quickly became the key figure, the hub of the wheel, a wheel that turned quite rapidly in those early years. A friend to everybody, all who came to Sedbergh Golf Club came to know Lorna. Many came back. again and again, leaving every time with a happy smile and fond memories of a great day (and an enormous plate of food.!)

There are letters galore, thanking the Golf Club and Lorna in particular, for a memorable day and the amazing "Full Monty" (a mixed grill of gargantuan proportions, which challenged many and defeated some!). People around the Golf Clubs of Northern England still enquire about her and it, some fifteen years later!

There are letters also (only two) about a touch of flowery language which Lorna could turn her hand tonow and again, generally in jest rather than anger. She would always call a spade a spade! Most took in in the humorous spirit it was intended. Two didn't!

Heart of gold, Lorna may have gone but will be remembered forever and it is easy to picture her, looking down from above, watching Matty drive off the third tee, then saying quietly to the Angel next to her, " By gum lad, he splatted that!!"

God Bless you Lorna, from us all. ☺

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