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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Forever in our Hearts, Nan

  This week we said goodbye to Sharon's Nan.  Sharon and Nathanael were able to fly out to be with family and friends as they joined together to say goodbye last Thursday.  We know that she has invested so much in our lives that we wouldn't be the people we are today if it hadn't been for her influence, so we wanted to share her life with you. 

Gladys May Powell
24 May 1919 - 16th January 2012

Gladys was born in Bath on 24th May, 1919 & had a strict upbringing with her younger siblings, Kath & Dennis.  Her mother always said that she was different to the other two & had ‘big ideas above her station’.  She was in serious trouble when her father once caught her dancing with a chair!  She passed her 11plus, but her parents couldn’t afford the uniform for her to go to the grammar school & Gladys was too proud to accept the help offered by the State, so she didn’t take up the place.
 On leaving school she went into service with the Maw family of Bath & took care of their 2 children.  The house rule was that if the children didn’t eat their meal it had to go back into the larder & Gladys was instructed to bring it out every day until they ate it, but she couldn’t bear to do that to them & used to eat the leftovers herself in secret so that the children always had fresh food.  The family kept in touch with her for many years & invited her to their weddings.
She met her husband, Cyril, at the drill hall in Bath & they were married on 22nd November, 1941.  Cyril wore his army uniform & Gladys wore her W.A.A.F. uniform.
 Within days of the marriage Cyril was posted abroad to serve with the Desert Rats, while Gladys continued to serve with the W.A.A.F. as an equipment assistant, spending long periods not knowing where Cyril was.
 After the war they settled in Bath & had 2 children, Jacqueline & Kenneth.  When Jacqueline passed her 11plus, Gladys was determined that she wouldn’t let her miss the opportunity of attending grammar school & took a job cleaning a tailor’s shop to enable her to afford the uniform.  She later worked in various grocery shops in Bath, then eventually took a job as a home-help & enjoyed helping the clients by often doing extra tasks that weren’t part of the job description, such as taking washing & ironing to do at home. 
Gladys was always proud of her family & welcomed Jane & Bob on their marriages into the family.  She was particularly proud when Ken went to work at the British Embassy in Washington DC.  But, her proudest moments were on the arrival of grandchildren Sharon, Sally, Kimberley & the much longed-for grandson, Michael.  She was delighted when Sharon followed in her footsteps & joined the WRAF, and then Sally worked as a nanny.
Gladys was a life-long member of The People’s Mission Church in Bath & her life revolved around the Church, both spiritually & socially.  She served on various committees, taught in the Sunday School, & had very few friends outside the Church, enjoying many holidays abroad with other Church members, particularly a trip to Israel when she & Cyril were baptised in the River Jordan.  She & Cyril eventually moved to Radstock & when Cyril’s eyesight started to fail they started to worship at Westfield Methodist Church as the journey to Bath became too difficult, but at every opportunity Gladys joined her old friends from The People’s Mission.
During the 90’s Gladys began to show signs of dementia, although Cyril was quick to cover up for her.  One evening in 1998 she was walking to a ladies’ meeting at the Methodist church when she was knocked down by a car & sustained injuries to her head, eye & leg.  The shock accelerated the dementia & Cyril‘s sudden death in April 2000 caused another setback.  She managed to continue to live in her own familiar home, but became increasingly confused when she began to have hallucinations.  In 2002 she was admitted to hospital after staying out all night & was sectioned, so in June of that year she moved to Heanton Nursing Home where she was cared for until her death.  Although she met her great grandson, Nathanael, she couldn’t comprehend who he was, but she & Cyril would undoubtedly have been very proud great-grandparents.
Gladys was known to be very house-proud & had a very good sense of humour & told many amusing stories of her life in the W.A.A.F. but her references from the W.A.A.F. & Ifoulds grocery store probably sum her up very well:

‘This airwoman has reached a superior standard of efficiency in her trade.’

‘We have found her faultless in every possible way – always reliable, keen, energetic, punctual & most important of all, completely trustworthy.’

We lost the Gladys we knew many years ago, but the memories will always be there.

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