REMEMBERING GILL GARDNER
Gill came to live in Barrow in 1983, with her husband Arthur and their three children Ben, Jessica and Joshua and they very quickly
became involved in village activities. I have very fond memories of them doing a very energetic rock and roll at the Community Association
dances that were held in the 80s. Those of you who knew Gill, will remember her as a lady of such elegance, who wore her clothes with
a casual flair, that could make the most ordinary scarf into a stylish accessory.
It was said by Gill herself, that she never had a 'career', yet she spent her working life helping
others. After university, Gill taught as a primary school teacher, thoroughly enjoying teaching
creative writing and poetry. Feeling the urge to do more, Gill applied for and was accepted by
the VSO but her placement in Kenya met with some difficulties, so rather than wait another
year, she decided to travel and work in the States for six months. Shortly after returning, Gill
and Arthur were married and by this time Gill was working as a research assistant. She was
promoted to scientist - the first non-scientist to be given the grade; a fact of which she was justly proud.
Very happy years were then spent bringing up the children and moving house, as Arthur
obtained promotion. When the time felt right to get back to work, Gill was accepted to train as
a marriage guidance counsellor with Relate. She did this part time and somehow managed to
also work as a researcher on a project to set up a register of people with learning difficulties for two London boroughs. This was obviously a
very busy time that Gill said she wouldn't have managed without Arthur's support.
The move to Barrow came when Arthur was seconded to the university. After spending time settling into their new home on Cotes Road, Gill
returned to work, joining the Leicester Rights' Centre. This was a job that she loved and believed in and stayed for 12 years. The last case she
took was the first ever under the new Disability Discrimination Act to go through the County Court. The last few years of her life were spent
doing project evaluation for a number of voluntary groups, and also as a researcher on an Asian Literature University and Community project
for the English Department at Loughborough University and Charnwood Arts. A pretty impressive CV for a 'non career' person. Gill was also
greatly involved with the WEA and the Labour Party, and was also on the Barrow & District Twinning Association.
Most of the details about Gill are extracts from an account of her life which she wrote down when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer
last summer. In this account she wrote, that you only get out of a community what you put in. Well, Barrow was certainly on the winning side
in this case. Even when Gill was desperately ill, she had the ability to put you at her ease and you so enjoyed her company that you forgot
how ill she was. Unassuming, elegant and so very, very brave, Gill will be remembered by all her many friends in Barrow, and all who knew her.
Arthur would like to take this opportunity to thank the community nurses at Barrow Health Centre for all their help and support during Gill's illness.
'They were fantastic', he said. Arthur has also been amazed and delighted that, through the generosity of family and friends, over £1000 has been
donated to LOROS in Gill's memory.
Constance Marianne Walker was born and educated in Sheffield, obtaining an MA degree, specialising in French. After some years of
teaching, she was appointed to the post of senior mistress at Humphrey Perkins School and took up her post in the autumn of 1937.
Her main sphere of responsibility was the welfare of the girls and she carried this out meticulously, from the measurement of the hems of their skirts to the
imposition of detentions for those caught in the village without a beret. She could scare for England. I was told recently of the student, stopped,
berated and given a detention, before she drew breath long enough to explain that she was a Rawlins pupil. But here was another tender side to
her and a small girl whose mother died remembers her kindness and care at that time.
Of course, her time here coincided with the outbreak of World War II in which she played an active part in the ARP and the ambulance service.
She drove with the same kind of panache which we associate with her later years, culminating in the hair-raising exploits of the little red buggy. Beware,
Marianne was in charge.
She was an elegant and gracious hostess, preparing meals and presiding over them with her lovely Georgian silver. She dressed elegantly and
bought a lovely black dress for her ninetieth birthday and also for the Humphrey Perkins' centenary. In the 1950s, she began the school trips
abroad, which led to exchanges and eventual twinning with Marans. She was delighted to be involved, speaking fluently in French at the service
and at the unveiling of the road signs.
Her parents retired to Barrow, having built a bungalow at the back of the school. She lived alone there after their deaths but was graced in her latter
years by former friends and the unstinting loyalty of Tannis Reeves, who was a frequent visitor at Pingle Nook, where Marianne found a home with Lesley
and Robert. She was a member of Holy Trinity Church and was often seen in church in her famous red hat, first worn when she was chair of the Parish
Council. Marianne was also a founder member of the Community Association. She was a staunch supporter and regularly attended Council meetings,
speaking out in characteristic and considered style. The Community Association benefitted greatly from this support, especially in the early days when we
were feeling our way in creating something quite radical for the village.
She was a quietly Christian lady who believed the best of everyone she met which is why the many people whose lives she touched, loved her.
(we are grateful to Marie Slater for allowing BV to use this extract from Marianne's funeral address)