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St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

The Website for St George’s Church, Waterlooville and its Parish Magazine St George’s News

Christmas 2023 issue

Jennefer Higginbottom, 1934 - 2023

The funeral for Jennefer Higginbottom took place at St George’s on Wednesday 15th December. The Eulogy given by her son Adrian Higginbottom is reproduced below.

Jennefer, along with her older siblings Robert and Mary, was born in Derbyshire on 16th March 1934. The family lived in the village of Darley Dale until their father’s job meant a move to Glasgow.

When World War II broke out, the family were evacuated to a farm in Ayrshire when Jennefer was about eight years old.

Returning to Glasgow after evacuation, Jennefer, together with her sister Mary, went to Glasgow High School for Girls. Jennefer left school when she was 16 to go straight into Pupil Training School for Nurses at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

After gaining her State Registered Nurse qualification, she then went to Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London where she qualified as a midwife.

This then led to a dual role as a District Nurse and Midwife (not unusual in those days) in the East End of London in  Poplar and often referred to “Call the Midwife as a close match to her time in the east end of London”.

It was during her time in Poplar that she met her husband to be Bob, while his Merchant Navy (White Star Line - Sister to Blue Star Line of which Titanic belonged) ship was docked there following a rowdy pub session by some of his crew and Bob as the officer of the Watch was called to return them to the ship, rumour is Mum had to patch a few of them up after an encounter with some large Glaswegian dockers…

They married 6th August 1960 and settled in Loughborough, Leicestershire, where Adrian was born in 1963 and Michael four years later. I remember the day well with Mum’s youngest sister Joan intercepting me as I wondered from my bedroom to give me the news, I had a Baby broth ….

Mum continued her work as a Midwife and District Nurse, juggled family life while Dad was busy at Loughborough College (now the university) and also the support of Uncle Frank, Bob’s father who used to sneak Adrian and Michael into the shed where Uncle Frank and Dad had a passion for building steam engines…. Adrian and Michael had hours of fun hammering nails in bits of wood to keep us out of mischief…. Or getting very muddy in the vegetable patch at the bottom of the garden which was very much a family affair.

Around 1971 the family moved to Denmead following Dad accepting a job as Senior Lecturer in Technical Engineering at Fareham College.

Adrian and Michael attended the local school and joined the local scout group enjoying cubs, scouts and explorers where Adrian eventually became the Scout Leader running the biggest group in Hampshire.

Many holidays in the caravan made for exploration around the UK from a very young age an exciting time and Adrian and Michael more than once getting rather tipsy on Cider.

Mum and Dad both became deeply involved with Lions International, he eventually becoming District President and one of the founders of the Meon Valley Lions, setting up LEOS (young Lions) of which Adrian and Michael became members and both finding their future wives.

Later also becoming involved in the Masons of which both enjoyed senior roles in both organisations, taking them around the world on conventions and holidays allowing Dad to finally share some of his Merchant Navy history.

Sadly, Bob fell ill with a stroke not long after his retirement and not long after passed away… followed shortly by Michael following a brain haemorrhage.

This was a very low point for Mum and the family and devastating for Sandy, Tom and Rosie.

Mum continued to be involved with Lions and the Masons but her faith and the work with the Mothers’ Union at St George’s Waterlooville became her main focus in the latter years never really recovering from the loss of Bob and Michael.

As Mum’s health failed, she moved to Victory Court where she managed to keep a lot of independence for a number of years and enjoyed many trips all over the UK and a couple of cruises, as well as many social events at Victory Court… normally involving a bottle of wine or two.

Eventually she moved to Easterlea where she enjoyed the help and support of the fantastic nurses and staff. Covid times were a big strain but Easterlea staff did a fantastic job, kept everyone safe as well as love and compassion.

In the latter months Mum declined and was a challenge for all of the family and especially the staff at Easterlea, between spells in hospital until sadly she passed away peacefully on 25th October 2023.

On a light-hearted note, a couple of funny stories:

•One of the funniest stories she related, (with some very good elaborating and embroidering, as many of you will know!) was while visiting an old woman in her role as District Nurse in Poplar to dress her leg ulcers.

At the end of each visit the old lady always offered Jennefer a box of Brazil nuts. Now, this was at the end of World War II in the early 1950’s when rationing was not quite over, so Brazil nuts were a great luxury and very expensive.

Eventually, Jennefer had to tell the lady she simply could not accept any more, to which the old lady replied in her Cockney accent “Don’t worry dear, I suck off the chocolate and save you the rest!”

Jennefer never looked at a Brazil nut again for many a year after that!

•Not far from where we are all now, Jennefer was employed as a Community Midwife based in Fareham, a job she absolutely loved. One day travelling along the A27 an ambulance, flashing its blue lights, came up behind her trying to get her to stop. In those days midwives displayed a notice in their car “Midwife on duty”. When the penny dropped that the ambulance was not trying to overtake her, she pulled over to find herself delivering a baby in the back of the ambulance! Such was the type of drama she thrived on!

•Another was one winter, during a very severe snowstorm when she got stuck en-route to an imminent delivery to a well-known couple in Hambledon. A local farmer came to the rescue with his tractor, hitched Jennefer’s car to it, and bumped her across the fields in time for the big event! Yes! This was a very special sleigh ride maternity delivery service!

•She packed Adrian and Mike off to School on more than one occasion when it was Half Term or Summer Holidays ….

•Had a flat tyre on her car and put the replacement on the wrong way round … good job Mike spotted it, and we quickly changed it before she went out… we never did tell her what she had done…. Mainly as Mike and I could not stop laughing.

•Woke up one morning to find approximately 20 Leos asleep all over the lounge and dining room floor… Dad was sent to the shops to buy bacon and eggs and Mum proceeded to feed everyone.

•She also had a passion for cooking cakes, and feeding the endless number of our friends that used to visit.

We had some wonderful times, and I am sure you all have personal memories to cherish.

God Bless You Mum.