Gene was born in Shildon, County Durham in 1921, a mining community. As a result of the great depression, Gene’s father, who worked underground, was out of work for 7 years. In desperation the family moved south to a village Near Harlow in Essex to work on a large family estate. In this totally rural environment Gene, now 7 years old, had the freedom of running around in over 100 acres.
The local children did not understand her Geordie accent and use to ask her to say something, finding this amusing – needless to say Gene soon acquired an Essex accent!
When Gene left school at 14, her parents moved to North London as domestic service was expected of her by the “big house” and her parents did not want this for their daughter. Following the move, Gene trained as a cashier at Sainsbury’s headquarters in High Holborn London.
Come the war she became a radar operator with various anti-aircraft batteries serving in South Wales, Northern Ireland and lastly Coventry, where she met Peter. They married a year later and went on to have two daughters Lesley and Linda.
Gene became an “army wife” living in various parts of the UK, and for long periods of time found herself alone with two small children to care for and love.
When Peter retired from the army, they eventually settled down in Bollington the “Happy Valley”. She enjoyed her time as town Mayoress and later that of being Mayoress of Macclesfield borough. Gene joined the Women’s Institute and was an active member, eventually attaining the position of group chairman.
Gene has met many members of the Royal Family, and has dined in the Mansion House, the Guildhall and St. James Palace.
As a guest of the army, she stood along with Peter on the parade ground of Wellington Barracks in London where, prior to marching off to change the guard at Buckingham Palace, to her surprise the band of the Irish Guards played the Anniversary Waltz (it was her wedding anniversary that day)!
On one occasion, Gene sat at the same table and conversed with the Queen Mother and her Private Secretary, who were on a visit to Cheshire. So much so that she hardly ate any of her meal. Eventually when the queen mother was leaving she said goodbye to the Lord Lieutenant as protocol demands. She then half got into the car, stopped, got out and came back to Gene, shook her hand and said “It’s been a pleasure to meet you”. This was the only time Gene was stuck for words!
Though she has departed this mortal coil, she will always be remembered for her love of the garden which she designed, dug and planted for many years, creating a stunning display.
She had a long and interesting life and was a much-loved, caring, loyal wife, mother, grandma and great grandma.
May she rest in peace.