'Betty' Gaymer 1920-2008

The following eulogy was delivered by Paul Gaymer at the Service of Thanksgiving for the life of
Elizabeth 'Betty' May Gaymer.

I would like to take you on a journey through the highway of Mum’s life. 

Mum’s mother and father – Frank and Flo Woods lived with their son Frank in Alice Holt House which was owned by a Mrs. Anderson. (This is now the forestry research station.) I believe they were in ‘service’ there and probably lived in little more than a wooden shack at the side of the house. 

Mum was born there in April 1920 and 9 months later Mrs. Anderson moved to Gold Hill House in The Bourne and they went with her.  Mum’s Dad was the chauffeur cum gardener and her Mum the housemaid.  I know they lived in a large shed in the grounds of the house this time because I have seen the photos.  

Then in 1930 Mrs. Anderson died and they had to move to a rented room in a big house facing the Bourne Green at the bottom of Lodge Hill Road.  The council were now building new houses in the road and they had first choice.  Mum could never understand why her Dad chose one in the middle with the highest steps, which Frank and her used to have great trouble negotiating their bikes up and down - especially later when Frank owned a motor cycle.

Mum went to the Bourne school and on leaving at the age of 14 started work in Mrs. Browne’s upholstery shop – firstly in Bear Lane, and then moving to the bottom of Castle Street (the shop that now goes by the name of Hi O Silver).   We walked by there a few weeks back and she showed me the little alcove by the front bay window where she used to leave her bike and lunchbox all day.  (Don’t reckon you could do that now.) 

She joined the Farnham Cycling Club in 1936 with her brother Frank and went on many enjoyable trips and events and had great fun by all accounts. She also played table tennis at a hall which I think was in Bear Lane, where at 18 she met her future husband – Bert. Two years later they were married in December 1940 at St. Andrew’s church, Farnham.

Now already into the war years they only had 2 days honeymoon before Bert was posted off to Birmingham for training, so Mum continued to live with her parents in Lodge Hill Road

During the war she joined the local auxiliary fire service.  Working first from South Street on the switchboard and then they moved up to a building on the Ridgeway – behind the water works and then onto Elstead by the green.  She enrolled on a six week cookery course – traveling back and forth each day to Aldershot with 6 other girls, and then she ended up being one of the station cooks.

After the war had ended and Bert returned from overseas where he had been for 4 years they had nowhere to live. But before the war Dad had worked for Len Heath at Frensham and on hearing of their plight Len offered to let them live in the works staff canteen.  The building is still there now and I believe is used as spray shop.

I came along around this time and we lived in one end of the canteen with a curtain across the middle, (the canteen was still in use for the workers by the way). Mum told me she spent many sleepless nights watching over my cot - because we shared our home with lots of rats and mice, and she was worried I might get bitten.

Anyway council houses were now starting to be built and we were lucky enough to be offered the first one completed in Peakfield – which we moved into on Armistice Day 1949.  This must have seemed like a palace to Mum and Dad after what they had been used too.

Along came sister Angela next and when time permitted Mum gradually got back into her sewing and upholstery interests. Which she always seemed to get more satisfaction from the finished product - than any monetary gain. 

Mum learnt her sewing skills on a treadle machine and never really did adapt to the modern electric version. She liked to make costumes for any school plays we did, and fancy dresses for the local flower shows and this was always great fun. She seemed always capable of making a silk purse out of a pig’s ear.

A special birthday of hers in the 50s brought the arrival of a brother for Angela and I – Boot – Oh good God what can I say!  Well if mother's have their little worries this was it.  I guess this is when she started to turn grey. For those that don’t know Boot’s posh name is Nigel.

We all grew up through the 50s and 60s and shared many fun and happy times with all our friends and neighbours in the estate. Mum always stood by us whatever trouble or mayhem we caused (and there was some believe me). Angela never seemed to cause too much trouble – just busying herself with her dolls and school work etc. (girls are a bit different today I guess].

Boot and I caused her a fair bit of worries and sleepless nights, but nobody ever got really hurt or anything  [certainly nothing ever approaching what you read or hear about now].

Dad tried to teach Mum to ride a motor cycle many times, but after disappearing through the hedge and another time ending up in the river at Waverley Abbey - she never really got to grips with it so gave up. I don’t think Dad would have been the most patient of teachers though.  She never learnt to drive either, which I know she regretted in later life.

When the 3 of us competed in various motor and motor cycle events, she was always there egging us on to go faster or whatever, and was really proud of any successes we may have achieved.

There always seemed to be a cat in our house – but I never remember choosing or buying one, they just seemed to appear from nowhere.  When they passed on, she would say “I loved that cat, but I don’t want the trouble of another one”.  But sure enough during the year another would appear looking sad and hungry and off we’d go again.  Over the years we had a number of cats and ended up with Theifer who is a very special cat and never left Mum’s side during her later years.  (Theifer will stay in the family by the way].

I remember some nights when Mum and Dad would come home from an evening out, usually at the British Legion - shall we say - slightly sideways. It was Gin in those days (but it had to be Gordons you understand).  It did not matter how many friends they came home with - or how many we had with us at the time - Dad would say - he felt a bit peckish and Mum would produce a great fry-up for everyone.  How she managed it I can’t comprehend.

Typically of Mum it was always for everybody else – never for herself - her hospitality was beyond reproach.

At the beginning of the 90s after Bert passed away she became very involved with the Frensham over 60s and thoroughly enjoyed arranging all the coach and holiday trips with Bob. Delivering the parish magazines, collections for Poppy Day, and anything else that needed doing, she was always first in the queue to help.  This was a very busy and rewarding time for her – no activity was too much.  Mum always liked to be involved with everything – always the actress never the audience.

She was also very proud to have made curtains and covers for several famous film stars and actors - and was called upon once, to do an urgent job for a No. 10 Downing Street garden party when John Major was in residence.

She also enjoyed a little bit of gambling – firstly on the old football pools, any raffles, and more recently the Lotto.  Anything she won she always liked to give away.

Mum was always very proud of her grandchildren, Scott, Nicki, Brogan and Harley and took great interest in all of their progress and activities.  She always liked to be involved and help where possible, nothing was ever too much trouble.

Sadly 4 years ago she had a minor stroke which left her without the use of her left hand and leg, but her mind was still very sharp.  This caused her great frustration and for the first time in her life she could no longer deal with anything constructive. The sewing machine was made redundant and this seemed to have the effect of making her very outspoken, sometimes cantankerous and sometimes just plain rude.  We had not seen this side of her before.  I think and hope to all of you that knew her, this was not the really Betty.

On one of her shopping lists she gave me, it read ‘cat food’ followed by a great list of makes, types, flavours, colours and sizes that you could imagine.  Right at the bottom it said whiskey (Bells or Teachers you understand), which was her preferred drink in later life.  I said Mum “what about food for you”, she replied “I’ve got plenty” she was more worried about the cat than herself.  (The whiskey was for her not the cat by the way). One morning she rang me at 7am and said could I come round and feed Theifer, but said nothing about being too ill to do it herself.  She always put the cat first whatever.

I would go round to see her in the evening and say have you seen anybody today “no” was always the reply – “haven’t seen a soul”.  In the next couple of sentences she would say “Oh Cis came across”, “May rang up”, “Rosie came and did my hair”, “Jo popped up to say hello”, “Stephanie came round with her dog”, “Maureen brought me some flowers”, “Auntie Jane made me a pie”, “Pat came over for a chat”, “Steve brought the milk” and “David collected the dustbin” – phew!!!  A bit of a quiet day then Mum.

All the family would like to thank you all for your time and great support you gave her in these last 4 years – thank you.

When I used to take Mum out somewhere one of our silly family sayings was – “we’re off to see the wizard” - well we never did find the wizard – perhaps she will now…..

I don’t think she will quite get to make curtains for the angels - no more than Dad got to tune the Triumph for the grim reaper, but I think maybe they will meet somewhere in the middle. 

After reading that lot she will probably fly out of the casket and cover us all in ashes. 

You must rest now Mum and let us do the worrying    RIP 

If someone you love needs help – do it today - there is no tomorrow