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.
4 Bowls Close
Now living in Dorset