Further Recollections from the Stanmore Baptist Church

“She arranged for us to go to France with her.  We had a lovely holiday and she was really kind to make it possible for us to go to France.  She was the kindest lady on earth.”  (Trhliks)

“Dear Rita, We loved you, missing you . . . ”  (Tomas and Ivana)

“I remember Rita for her patience with the children at holiday club – helping them to learn to sew.  Endless patience so they could thread a needle.”  (Sue)

“Dear Rita, friend, neighbour and fellow worker, what a gift you have been over 30+ years.  Memories are too poignant to write just now, but we will pick up the baton you have put down.  God bless you and keep you, love Margaret P.”

“Picking raspberries and rhubarb in a lovely garden!” (Glenn & Winifred)

“To know Rita was to feel loved and accepted.  She was worth far more than precious rubies.  We will miss you but rejoice to know you are with Jesus.” (Unknown)

“Rita was a wonderful person.  She was one of the few people who made me feel that I was truly loved by God.”  (Anon)

“A special lady with a heart for others caring  and  full of Godly wisdom.  I have memories of her when she hosted a post-Alpha house group.  She will be missed.  Much love, Jessica Currie.”

“Thank you for all your hard work tutoring us.  We are all very thankful.” (Ben and Daniel)

“Thank you Rita for being such a great and thoughtful friend.  My children and I have learned a lot from you.  We shall never ever forget you.  Love of love” (JJ, Lana & Nadia)

Tribute From Miriam

Provided by Miriam 

 

My very very dear Rita,

 If you can talk to me through the words and music in your funeral, I know I can talk to you.  

I want to thank you for all that you have done for me.  How you were totally there, and a rock when things at times were really tough.  You were 100% reliable and as a young family we felt enormously welcomed and absorbed into your house and your family particularly when we stayed with you for a while following the birth of Kezia.  We shared so much fun over many years and I loved and was inspired by your approach to life.  You lived a life in synchrony with not just ideas, but words and actions that matched.

I am so glad that you never had to leave your house with all its cherished memories and that you continued to see life as a challenge – the cross-trainer was a fabulous idea!  You really died in active service and that is how you would have chosen it.

I will miss you enormously, but know that your legacy lives on in the wonderful family you have and were so proud of, and the way that you have touched so many lives.

You will always remain an inspiration to me and I hope that by the time it is my turn to move on upwards, I will have been able to be of use to at least one person in the way that you were to me.

 

With gratitude and love,

 Miriam

Eulogy

By Stephen Jourdan

At 10.30 in the evening of Tuesday 16 July 1929, a baby girl was born in Düsseldorf in Germany. She was named Clara, after her grandmother, and Rita, which was the name her parents really liked, and which she was always called. For the next 3½ years, her mother kept a journal of her life. Let me read you a couple of extracts, translated from the original German.

At 11 months: “Rita is a very observant lively and intelligent child. She is a delight, always cheerful and loving”. Nothing changed there.

At 12 months: “She eats with good appetite and likes everything that is given”. At 2 years: “She eats almost anything and appreciates food. Particularly fruit, cake and chocolate”. This was the beginning of a life long habit.

At 13 months: “She is not tearful or self pitying. If she falls or knocks herself she rises unaided and carries on.” Here too, the child was mother to the woman. I cannot remember my mother ever expressing any self pity. She had some pretty hard knocks in her life, but every time she would rise and carry on.

When she was 8, in 1937, her father, who was a doctor, got a post in the Department of Physiology at Cambridge. Mum had to learn English, and settle into an English school – the Perse school for girls – at a time when Germans were not especially popular in this country. The family moved into an enormous house called Southacre, which was going cheap because it required a huge amount of maintenance. It had central heating, but this was not much good because coal was rationed during the war and my mother and her family would huddle around tiny stoves in the freezing Cambridge winters.

After leaving school, my mother obtained a job working at the Agricultural Research Council at Babraham, near Cambridge. This suited her as it gave her plenty of time to indulge in the great love of her life at the time – riding. I remember when young finding an old box in a cupboard and opening it. It was full of rosettes that my mother had won for show jumping and 3 day eventing. By the time I found it, in the 1960s, she had been forced to give up riding, because of a back problem. I remember asking her if she missed it. Yes, she said, I loved it, but you have to look forward, not backwards. “If she falls or knocks herself she rises unaided and carries on.

In the 1950s, the children of family friends came over from South Africa to work in England for two years – Eva and Werner Jourdan. Werner got to know Rita and was very taken with her. He he did not say anything at that time to her. However, after he went back to South Africa he communicated his feelings – not to my mother, but to my grandmother.

This is what she wrote in her memoirs: “Werner Jourdan had some girl friends but I had the impression that he preferred to marry Rita …. Having intimated Werner’s intentions I invited her to join me on my trip to South Africa the following year. They took to each other at once and got married after four weeks”. That is what you call an accelerationship.

That was in April 1958, when my mother was 28. They stayed in South Africa for two years. In March 1960, South African police opened fire on a crowd of black protesters in the township of Sharpeville, killing 69 people. My parents were not willing to go on living in a country where something like that could happen, and moved to England, where they settled in Stanmore, first in a little house in Winscombe Way, and then a couple of years later in 7 Bowls Close, which they bought off plan for £5,000, and where they remained ever after.

In the early 1960s a lot of new things came into the world. The Beatles, mini skirts – and my brother Paul and me – although not in that order. It was just after Paul was born that my father started suffering from serious fits. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour and was operated on. After the operation Dad was better than before, but his life was dramatically affected. His short term memory was shot. He could not drive. He found reading difficult, and writing impossible. He went from having a stimulating and responsible job as a graduate mechanical engineer to work he hated – sweeping factory floors, and working on an assembly line. It was incredibly frustrating for him, and terribly hard for my mother – this was not the man she had married. Many would have given up on the marriage, but not her. “If she falls or knocks herself she rises unaided and carries on.

Instead, she decided to get a job to help support the family. She signed up for teacher training college, and qualified as a teacher, after which she worked at Kenmore Park School. She was a natural teacher, and loved her work. She moved on to specialising in what was then called remedial reading – helping children who found learning to read tricky. When I was 10, in 1972, she wanted me to sit the entrance exam for Haberdashers’ School. She decided to coach me, and some friends. This was a great success, and she carried on her coaching practice for the next 44 years, both while she was teaching and after she retired. She never once advertised for a pupil, and whenever one child stopped, there were always more parents who had been recommended to her. She thoroughly enjoyed coaching, and would often talk to me about her children and how they were doing. She took great pleasure in her retirement, which gave her more time to see her many friends and to go on a variety of exotic foreign trips with her brother Peter, to whom she was always very close.

I’m not sure when Mum first came to Stanmore Baptist Church. I came here in the 1970s when I was a teenager and so she was clearly coming then. This church community was a very important part of her life, which she loved. Others can say more about what she meant to you, but for her, you, and the faith that you share with her, were a source of great joy. You were a wonderful support to her when she had her first heart attack, and triple bypass operation, in 2003, and when my father died in 2010. Thank you for all that you did for her. She loved you and I know you loved her.

We knew she had an issue with one of her heart valves, but were told it was not serious. About a week and a half before she died, she came to lunch with us on Sunday, as she generally did. She told me she had been feeling short of breath and finding it difficult to walk. Her reaction to that was that she said she wanted to get something she could exercise on. So I took her to John Lewis and we chose something suitable, which Paul and I gave her as an early Christmas present. Some people, at the age of 86 if they found walking difficult would get a wheelchair. My Mum got a cross-trainer.

Her death came as a terrible shock and was very difficult for us; but for her, it was exactly how she wanted her end to come. She did not fear death. She did have some concern about becoming an invalid. In her handbag, she carried a note saying “please do not resuscitate me”, although it was buried deep beneath the many paper handkerchiefs, pens and chocolate bars she carried with her, so I doubt that any paramedic would ever have found it. She lived her life to the full from the beginning to the end and her life came to its conclusion in exactly the way she would have wished. From beginning to end, she lived up to her mother’s early description of her: “She is a delight, always cheerful and loving”.

Paul and I – and all of us – will miss her enormously.

Recollections From Myra

Provided by Myra 

As with many people my mind has been going over all the times I have shared with your Mum for many years, knowing her first as a Music School organizing Mum. She did a lot of work for that organization. as you know. In recent years I have been to concerts with her. She, and your Dad were our companions at New Wine, Werner and Bill would go to seminars together leaving Rita and me to explore our own interests (men free !!). This was when we both heard about Healing on the Streets and knew we had to do it in Stanmore, however much it might embarrass us. These fears proved unfounded but I know what physical energy Rita consistently put into SHOTS. I know how much she really loved the people who often came for prayer or a chat. They always wanted to know where she was if she wasn’t there on a Saturday morning. The few days I came up to your home, Paul, with her was a real treat for me. It was a privilege to join your family for a few days and I was so pleased to roam around Edinburgh again where I had spent five years of my life. Rita had shared with me about the family , her love for her sons , their partners and beloved Grandchildren. likewise she knew about mine. We prayed together for you all.

 

I could go on about our shared interests; excursions to London for exhibitions, plays, conference days visiting mutual friends, meals, discussing books  —  and more. How I will miss her!  But this is only touching my life.  I know that her interest and love was for many, many others, especially at SBC. She was loving and giving and it had the foundation of a deep faith and life of prayer. We had had conversations on doubt and topical theological / ethical topics. These did in no way shake her core beliefs and her yardstick towards  others was always based on the love Jesus showed and gave. She did likewise.  How she loved all children and young people.

 

On returning together from a recent funeral we, without any morbidity and with some humour even , discussed how we wanted our deaths and what sort of funeral we would like.  She was content in the knowledge of her ultimate destiny and just wanted to die in her sleep. How great that God took her fairly pain free and in the way she wanted.

 

I as a friend  I will continue to miss and mourn for Rita. How much more for you her beloved family and brother will miss her now and in the future.  You are her heritage.  I pray you will find and treasure her faith, hope and contentment in your lives,

 

With love, Myra

Recollections By Sam Jourdan

My memories of Ganny are numerous, and it’s difficult to summarise them into a short post. She was an incredibly generous, loving woman, and my life will not be the same without her.

Her advice and encouragement has helped to shape the course of my life, and her outlook and attitude towards the world and people will undoubtably act as a font of wisdom from which I can draw from in the future.

Whether it be the smaller things; adding cold water to a boiling mug of coffee and only taking food you know you will finish, or the larger things; treating everyone with respect and seeing the world from other’s perspectives: Ganny will always be my side, and I will forever cherish the 21 years I had the fortune to spend with her.

 

 

 

 

 

Recollections By Nel Walker

Contributed By Nel Walker 

I first met Rita when she and Werner began coming to Stanmore Baptist Church in the early eighties.  My first memory is their coming to a Sunday tea at the Manse.

Rita has been a wonderful friend to me ever since, and to my family; children and grandchildren, who each have their own very special memories.   She was like a solid rock to us all.  
We had some great times together on holidays in the Isles of Scilly, and then with the Longman’s and the Finney’s in a row of several neighbouring caravans in the Yorkshire Dales.  We shared many experiences too in the early days of the New Wine Events in Somerset.
Rita was also instrumental in setting up the Beulah Counselling Service which continued to serve the local community in Edgware until recently.  She continued to support that work in various ways and offered herself and her phone as the first point of contact for people seeking counselling from the team of Beulah counsellors.   Her grounded vision and commitment was amazing.
We enjoyed a lovely day recently in September when she and Myra came to visit me in Brackley, and then she was present with us at David’s funeral just last month.
She enriched our lives and was an inspiration and role model for loving, practical care for others.  She was like a solid rock to me and to the family, and we never imagined her not being there as she seemed never to change, but just continued with the same outgoing energy and care for others.

Recollections By The Stanmore Baptist Church

Contributed by members of the Stanmore Baptist Church 

 

“Rita is an inspiration to us all and we would all want to be like her as we approach old age.” (Rosie and Ken)

“Rita loved music and worship – she was always an encouragement and a blessing to me!” (Glyn)

“Rita, always had an encouraging word and she hosted my family & I for a Sunday lunch”

“Rita supported us so much especially our four boys, Jacob, Dylan, Eran and Aled. Such a wonderful role model. We miss you. x”   (Helen)

“What a lovely lady, she always had a smile on her face. We miss her! Playing the angels in heaven.” (Mel, Ken, Nathan and Luke)

“Rita: You have been always so Very Kind, Compassionate & Loving to Rachel . . . Each of us will Miss You”   (Rachel’s family)

“Rita made it possible for us to remain in Stanmore, and therefore at the church after we married. So far that has been an extra 25 yrs of service and involvement. Hopefully there will be many more years. Thank you Rita!” (Tony and Gill Barden)

“I remember asking Rita to pray for me & my family and being a little scared of her, but the warmth and love I felt during and after when she talked to see how everything was has always put a special spot in my heart for Rita.” (Wendy)

“A lovely person who always made us feel welcome. Rita often prayed for our family and was so nice with her comments about our daughter. We pray she is at peace now and ask that the Lord will bless her legacy and family.” (Sukhram family)

“Rita is a lovely and kind woman. Only last Sunday she called William, my husband, to tell him that if our son needs any help at all with his studies she would be happy to help and to just let her know.”

“I still can’t believe her heart has stopped beating. It is like walking past Big Ben every day at noon and hearing it chime. And then one day it doesn’t. Rita we love you with all our heart.” (Shaun)

“I’ll always remember how she always helped the young people.” (James)

“Rita, you were a bright light to us.” (Sadhna)

“Will always remember her hospitality & warmth. RIP Rita, love Liz”

“A lovely lady and a real giver of her time and talents. X”

“She always helped people and was a fabulous friend.” (Natalka)

“You radiated so much peace and love. Rest in Peace” (Olu)

“I will always remember her and how she welcomed everyone and how she helped me with my work.”

My memories of Rita

Contributed by Alexandra

I lived at Bowls Close (number 4) from the age of 4 for 20 years and then returned to visit my parents regularly until Dad died last year so I knew Rita for over 50 years.  The houses at Bowls Close were built in 1964 and most of the families had young children and we all played happily together.  I remember Rita telling me that she got in first with the choice of house at Bowls Close and chose number 7, which had the best garden including some of the original garden from Bowls House.

 

As children, my brothers Peter and John and myself were particularly friendly with Stephen and Paul and also Catherine and Richard from number 6 as we were all similar ages.  I remember Rita used to organise New Year’s Eve parties and we as children played monopoly upstairs (with Stephen usually winning) – it was a great treat for us to stay up late.

 

I remember Rita as always being friendly, busy and full of energy – teaching, coaching, organising things, taking in lodgers, socialising with friends and helping others.

 

Rita assisted us when we were looking for a lodger for Dad as I asked her if she knew anyone suitable.  She came up with Jeannette from her Church, who lived happily with Dad for 5 years until he died.  Having such a good lodger meant that Dad could live at home successfully.  I often popped in for chat when I was visiting my parents and she always knew all the news of the Close (and other things) and was always friendly and interested in my news.  I know she was very proud of her children and grandchildren.  When I was sorting through my Dad’s photos I always brought over any I found of her family.  Fairly recently I found one of Paul about 6 months and myself which she said she had never seen and she gained a lot of pleasure from it.

 

She was definitely the matriarch of the Close and so it is fitting that she was the last one standing.  I was saddened to hear of her death as I thought she would go on forever.  It was wonderful that she was so astute at her age and able to travel and work and live unencumbered by illness and disability that becomes a problem for so many others of her age.

 

Alexandra,

4 Bowls Close

Now living in Dorset