Fay Searle

Jackie Embury
Fay's beautiful flower arrangements for Anne-Marie's wedding May 2001
Jackie Embury
Fay having fun with confetti at Anne-Marie's Wedding
Jackie Embury
This was Fay's next project but sadly not able to complete it - Disabled toilet facility 2008
Jackie Embury
The Church Hall 2008 prior to refurbishment
Jackie Embury
Hall kitchen 2009
Jackie Embury
Messy playroom 2009
Jackie Embury
The refurbished hall 2009
Jackie Embury
How Fay would have been so pleased that the refurbished hall was being enjoyed 2010 It is the most used hall in the village
Jackie Embury
Church kitchenette 2018
Jackie Embury
Refurbish Church
Jackie Embury
Refurbished Church
Jackie Embury
Di Coleman's flower arrangement
Jackie Embury
Refurbished church vestibule
Jackie Embury

22 April 1945 – 28 April 2005 

A tall, upright woman, smartly dressed and well groomed, with a warm, friendly smile and a welcoming and kind word.  That’s my memory of Fay and I’m sure it’s a picture of Fay that others hold in their minds.  Fay was a communicator who enjoyed meeting people, finding out about them and engaging them in conversation.  “She’s a lovely woman”, I’ve heard over and over again.

Fay was born in Grimsby where she grew up until her late teens.  She attended McCauley Street Primary School and Grimsby Technical School.  She had two special friends, Christine and Stephanie and shared the top marks in every subject with them.  She was good at athletics and played netball for the school.  She was also in the school hockey team.

In later years after she and Olive Holmes became friends, they set out to learn golf together.  Fay’s technique was to approach the ball, whack it hard and watch it sailing off into the distance.  The story doesn’t tell if she achieved a hole in one but it symbolic of her determination for life.

Her family moved to Letchworth at the end of her schooling and soon after she met Byron who quickly asked her for a date.  They courted for three and half years and married shortly after Byron proposed.  During their courtship Fay worked in the accounts department at Letchworth Bacon Factory and then at Cobb and Wards.

After marriage, Fay and Byron moved into their home in Dixies Close, where the décor left much to be desired, especially the kitchen.  This must have been the beginning of their effective style of working together.  Because of their efforts the home we see today is greatly improved and far more comfortable than the original building.

I understand that at one time the houses in Dixies Close were under threat of demolition to make way for redevelopment.  Fay wouldn’t have this and really did her homework, collecting sound information which resulted in the houses being repaired at a more reasonable cost.  She organised a street party, including a karaoke, in support of this protest.

During their marriage, Fay and Byron supported each other in all that they’ve done, both separately and together.  Byron, who played football and cricket, needed help with washing the teams’ football shirts and preparing the cricket teas, which Fay did willingly. Byron supported Fay in the activities in the WI, the church and other community-based commitments but I’ll come to those later.  What’s important is that they were a team.

As Jonathan, Emma and Rachel were born, they moved on from being a team to being a family, bringing Fay a great deal of pleasure.  I sense the family have always been a close, happy unit enjoying life to the full.  Holidays seem to have been very merry, usually a beach holiday, Dalmatian and all, and especially memorable when Fay fell through a deckchair which she laughed off despite twinges of pain emerging.

 Fay also supported and cared for Dad who lived in sheltered accommodation at Hadleigh, Letchworth.  Fay was so well loved there that the warden, on hearing of Fay’s death, called for a minute’s silence.

Fay’s family was of prime importance to her but she also held a sense of community for which we all knew her.  Fay was involved in the WI, Village Hall Committee, PTA, Moss Cottages, Meals on Wheels and the URC.  If there was something that needed doing in the village you could rely on Fay.  She was a good organiser and would simply get on and do things without any fuss, nothing was too much trouble.

I mentioned her support of Byron and his football involvement.  I wonder if you know that on one occasion, she catered for 50-60 footballers for a weekend using old-fashioned burners at the Village Hall – that’s some feat!  She also played football against Flottbecks of Hamburg both home and away!

Fay had a commitment to the WI, in which she held most positions, including being its President.  The group would go away for weekends and learn skills like flower arranging and cake decoration.  I also hear that they were into amateur dramatics, acting out roles like punk rockers – I wish I had seen that!  They won trophies for their performances, Di Coleman told me that Fay was very loyal to the WI, giving a lot of time to it.  Di commented that Fay was fun to be with and the two them often saw the funny side of things, like two naughty schoolgirls at the back of the class!

The WI brought out Fay’s gifts of flower arranging and catering.  She was often called upon to arrange displays of flowers for weddings and other significant events and to organise the catering.  For URC events Fay would come along with her clipboard and request for volunteers to provide some plates of goodies.  All complied because there was no saying ‘no’ to Fay.

Up until 2004, Fay had a commitment to organising Meals in the locality and being the Clerk to the Moss Cottages Association.  Mr Sam Wallace told me that Fay had done this work diligently for 12-14 years, and that she was efficient and caring towards the residents, keeping their homes in good order.  He relied on her.  Her last task was organising the centenary celebrations there last year.

Fay was also an Elder at Ashwell United Reformed Church.  She had a keen eye for what needed doing and got on and did it.  She was a sincere Christian in her worship of God as well as having practical skills in helping to keep the place running smoothly.

She liked things to be done properly and to look right.  She would help me on with my robes and make sure that my scarf was in place, especially the one which says ‘feed my sheep’ because if it’s the wrong way round it says, ‘sheep my feed’!

Fay was diagnosed with a tumour five years ago but she fought through to good health after that.  She organised events to raise money for the McMillan Nurses from which hundreds of pounds were donated to the organisation.

 It was a disappointment that secondary tumours which could not be treated appeared last year.  Fay didn’t ask for a prognosis, she believed that where there’s life there’s hope.  She lived her last five years to the full going to places she’d not previously visited, seeing dolphins and killer whales, seeing the tall ships sailing, (a memory of Grimsby), going down a rope ladder to board a floating bridge, riding on the big wheel but not feeling too secure when her car stopped at the top and being photographed with different Disney characters such as Shrek and Woody from Toy Story.  Fay and Byron visited 23 different countries, everywhere that Fay wanted to go.  Most importantly in those five years Fay took joy in marriages of Emma and Jonathan and becoming a grandmother to her three grandchildren, as well as seeing Rachel settled with her partner.  Oliver, her eldest grandchild, ran into Fay’s room not long before her death and simply smiled at her.  She and Byron celebrated forty years of marriage in 2005.  Fay was determined to enjoy every one of the days she had left and she was richly blessed because of her positive determination.

Fay was forthright in her views and she’d stand by anyone who was down.  If you were feeling low, she’d pick you up.  Fay, you will be missed by so many in this community, your memory will stay with us but you now rest in peace with your Lord.

A true and loyal friend by Jackie Embury

Fay was a wonderful loyal friend in 1996 when Roy and I moved to Clacton Fay kept in touch.  Fay and Byron visited and stayed with us on many occasions which was great fun.  When our daughter Anne-Marie married in 2001 Fay was first to offer support eager to help in any way as we no longer lived in Ashwell.  Fay created two beautiful floral arrangements in the church porch and read the bible lesson.

When we returned to Ashwell in 2004 Fay welcomed us back providing a splendid meal for my family and hers it made us feel as though we had never been away.

In 2005 sadly, Fay’s health deteriorated, once again I became an Elder at the URC and picked up where Fay had left off so her vision of improving the premises for the benefit of the village continued and was finally completed in September 2018 I am sure Fay would have approved.

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