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In Memory of Our Dear Mother








Welcome everyone.  My name is Colleen Baird, and I feel privileged to have been asked to help the family in this special way.  We are gathered here today to say goodbye to Lily Elizabeth Susannah  Blackwell


Lily was the loved wife of the late George who died in 1978 after 46 years of marriage, and the loved and loving mother and mother-in-law of George and the late Joyce; Ray and his wife Yvonne; Maureen or Molly as she is now known and her husband John; Brian and his wife Veronica, and Janet and her partner Paul.

Lily adored her 13 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

Lily's funeral will be a celebration of her life, followed by tea and refreshments at Ray and Yvonne's home, 11 Hillcrest Street, New Plymouth.

Lily's son Brian and his wife Veronica, who live in Brisbane, are unable to be with us this morning and our thoughts are with them



The family also wish to thank the Management and Staff of the former Tasman View Rest Home and more recently, of the Castlerea Rest Rome for their kindness and compassion. Lily spent her last seven years residing in these homes and the nurses gave her love and great care.  At times Lily was very hard to handle and her verbal ramblings difficult to listen to. The staff however, understood her state of health and managed her beautifully. Thank you.


Death is a time when we can celebrate anything we've been able to give, share or receive. But in honouring Lily's life we must also acknowledge that there is sadness at her death. The event of death has a way of uniting us in a way that perhaps no other human experience does. It reminds us of the fragility of our relationships; it reminds us of the special and unique way in which we relate to those people who cross our pathways in life. It is at a time like this that we think too, of the great debt we owe to the past - to all the men and women who have gone before us, and how each of them have contributed something, great or small to the benefit of' mankind as a whole.  Their work has not only benefited others in their own time, but also future generations. Very old people are a special part of the family tree. They provide a link with our past and with the past of our parents, our uncles and aunts and our great grandparents, people we may never have known. They represent the history and survival of our family and provide a feeling of permanence in a changing world.

Sorrow is the price of love.  If we never allowed ourselves to care for anyone, then there would be no such thing as sorrow. Let us now remember with love and gratitude the life of Li1y, however, we can never capture exactly the life of a person, we can only bring glimpses and moments of the time that they lived with us. Let us do that now -



On 7th March 1911, a. 6th child was born in Custom House, London, to Ada and Joseph Fox. They named their daughter Lily Elizabeth Susannah and she became a sister to Joseph, William, Martha, Alfred and Albert.  Over the next few years four more children were born, they being George, Leslie, Gladys and Violet.

Ada Fox was a Geordie from Jarrow, Newcastle and Joseph Fox a Yorkshireman who was 16 years older than his wife. His work as a stevedore in the docks meant there was some income for the large family, but money was never plentiful. When the docks were slack, Ada parcelled possessions for the pawn shop in order to keep her family fed and well.  Joseph worked hard to provide for his family, and from his two allotments he sold vegetables, his sons would sell 2d bunches of mint and Lily used to push a pram selling Sweetpeas and Wallflowers at 3d per bunch.

Children in the era of Lily's childhood were experts at keeping themselves entertained and they also discovered ways of finding those extra tuppences that gave them great joy. The differences between Lily's childhood and the children of today is vast. Imagine having to hire swimming togs for a halfpenny for a 1 penny swim at the Barking Road pool. The togs never fitted and they fell down to Lily's knees once she hit the water.  The best part of the swim was the bread and jam sandwich Lily's mother gave her to eat once she was out of the water. Bikes and cars were most definitely out of their  reach, but for 3d per '/2 hour, Lily and two other siblings would take turns in the hire of an old bike. Lily and her brothers and sisters had an enjoyable childhood, interesting themselves with the simple things in life. Marbles, ball games, skipping, Whip and Top and they loved to suck on Brandy Balls, Aniseed Balls and Paragoric tablets.

Family holidays may be either fruit picking in Wisbech or hop picking in Kent, with each family member being careful not to include any leaves, as there was always extra money for those who had picked the cleanest hops.

Lily would have gone to school in the Custom House area but in early March 1925 her childhood suddenly came to an end. Her mother advised her to go 'into service', so after an interview in London, she travelled alone by train to be met by the head gardener at Rickmansworth.

The home of the Honourable Mr and Mrs Arthur Capple at 'King Johns Farm'  was where Lily began her service.  It was a long day - up at 6.00am to start work at 6..30am until lights out at 9.00pm. Her starting wage was 24 shillings per month and she sent 10 shillings  home to her mother to help the family. Lily stayed with the Capple's for 2 years.

Being keen to be closer to family Lily approached an Agency to look for another job. As a result Lily found work for 15 months at Kensington Palace Mews for Lady Bertha Dawkins who was lady-in-waiting to Queen Mary. Lily's next position for 2 years. was in 'Holland House' at Eton College, a job that she enjoyed every minute of. Each 4th July she went to Henley on Thames to watch the boat racing between some of the other schools and the staff were given 'time off' to go to Windsor Castle to see the Royal family or attend events like the Ascot Races.

Lily returned home to live, and got a job in Lyons Tea shops waiting on tables in the East End, East Ham, Poplar and Aldgate districts. For many years Lily had kept in touch with George Blackwell, a Navy friend of one of her brothers and this friendship blossomed into romance and their eventual marriage in the Stratford Registry Office, on 14 August 1931.  Lily found employment in the British Home Store until their first child was born at the Eastend Maternity Home in September 1932. They were very difficult times for Lily and George as they were the depression years and George had been invalided out of the navy.  There was no work to be had but eventually George got a permanent job on the Council as a decorator, working on Council houses at Dagenham. George, Lily and by now their two sons moved to Barking to be closer to George's workplace and Lily's older sister Martha and her children shared the house with them.  The demand for George's work increased and they decided to have another child. Maureen was born at home, but then the work situation changed for George. He took a job decorating for the Tilbury County Council which meant the family had to move. They rented a couple of flats until Lily applied for and was granted a Council House with a large garden.

The year was 1939, things were looking grim for the world and her mother's early death at aged 60  on 22 January, did not get the year off to a happy start. As part of the war effort George was sent to Fords in Dagenham and it was necessary for the family to move yet again. Lily's sister managed to find the family a house, but George was unhappy with work at the factory and signed up for the Merchant Navy which would take him away from home for long lengths at a time.  Within days he was assigned to the "Rotorua".

The evacuation of children to areas away from London, ostensibly out of harm's reach, meant that Lily was required to send her 8 and 5 year old sons away, with their little cases and gas masks to, she knew not where. She was comforted to finally know that her 2 boys were being well cared for in Devon.  After having been advised to find carers for her daughter, Lily was put to work in a factory making lavatory seats for soldiers. It was a time of air raid shelters, blacked out windows and the terrifying drone of Jerry planes overhead. In 1940 Lily was offered the position of living with and cooking for the elderly school teacher, Mrs Evans who lived next door to where her sons were evacuated to in Devon. George was on his way to New Zealand and Australia, would be away for some time, she was able to take Molly with her and it enabled her to be closer to her boys. Lily took the opportunity and at Mrs Evans' suggestion, she sent to London for her furniture which duly arrived and the surprise of her life came, when one of the furniture carriers passed her on the stairs and said 'Hello Darling'. Unbeknown  to Lily, George had been posted as missing, presumed drowned after a torpedo attack 300 miles off Scotland. He managed to get on the last life boat and make it to Stornaway on the Outer Hebrides Islands that lie off the North Western coast of Scotland. his dishevelled and unrecognisable state was understandable - he'd just travelled from one end of Scotland to the bottom of England. George rejoined the Royal Navy, passed exams and was made a petty officer, joining a Patrol Boat guarding the Harbour.

After Mrs Evans' death, Lily stayed on in the Evans' home and she had their two sons George and Ray returned to them. Brian was born on 16 November 1942, but George had left Salcombe to train for the second front. He was sent over to Ireland for some months, Algiers for 2 years and after a spell in hospital was put to Mine Sweepers up and down the Thames.

Lily and the children returned to Dagenham in early 1943. The Doodle Bugs, or flying bombs made life stressful and dangerous so it became necessary for children to be evacuated once again. This time Raymond went to Nottingham and Molly to Wales. Lily found night work at a Bakery from 9pm  to 7am, a job which she was very happy with. At the beginning of 1945 George was de-mobbed as his health was not good and even though the V-2's were still a threat, the war appeared to be coming to a close. Once George began decorating again, Lily left the Bakery and it was great for her to get her life back to normal. It was a very emotional time for Lily and all other mothers when their children were returned after VE Day which was May 6  1945. The family were in their brand new council home when Janet was born in 1947.

Lily was an excellent knitter, she sewed their clothes and as George was absent more often than not, she practically brought their children up herself. George and Lily had many conversations about emigrating to New Zealand, but it was a huge decision to leave friends and family and settle on the other side of the world. However George paved the way, by settling in New Plymouth and setting himself up as a Painter/Decorator.  By August 1957 George was landing jobs and preparing to bring Lily and Janet to New Zealand. They set sail on the 4th January 1958 aboard the Rangitoto, and a few weeks later Lily and George assisted their son Brian to join them here. They spent 2 or 3 years in Pio Pio, eventually returning to New Plymouth.

Once settled in New Plymouth Lily cleaned cinemas and worked as a seamstress for both Fashions and Guardsmans.  She gave up paid employment to care for George, and when driving became a problem, they shifted to Stratford to be closer to their two daughters. While living in Stratford Lily received great joy from breeding Pekinese dogs. Both she and George returned to the New Plymouth area. and settled in Bell Block and it was during this time that George passed away. In 1979 Lily returned to live in Stratford where she unfortunately was the victim of a mugging while on her motorized scooter.  It was a very unfortunate and unhappy incident that more than likely affected her health.  George's death in 1978, was a very sad time for Lily, but throughout her life, she has always faced the difficult times with great strength and determination. Lily worked hard all her life, and she turned her hand to whatever needed to be done.  Since her husband's death, for 10 years Lily travelled annually to Australia where she spent 4 weeks in Sydney with Ray and Yvonne who were living there at the time, before travelling north to Brisbane to spend time with son Brian.  She also managed a trip back to England in the late 70's.

Lily was always very proud of her husband and family and I quote from her notes "When I look back, it was well worth the sacrifice that Dad and I took, as no way would my children have had the opportunities in England that they have got from New Zealand and Australia, so I'm thankful for that."

You can see from what has been said that Lily led a life that was filled with love and caring for her family and friends. It is time now, for her to take a well earned rest.


Could we now have just a few moments in which everyone can be with their own thoughts and memories of Lily. Some of you might like to use this quiet time for silent prayer, or to reflect on the beliefs that bring you comfort.

Reflection time Music -  Let the rest of the world go by"



I invite Yvonne, Lily's daughter-in-law to give her tribute.


The priceless gifts in life
are not the ones wrapped up
and exchanged on special occasions
but the gifts we give when
we give of ourselves
It is the love that we share
It is the comfort we lend at times of need
It is the moments we spend together
helping each other to follow our dreams
The most priceless gifts in life
are the understanding and caring
that come from the heart
And each and everyone of us
Has these gifts to offer
Through the gift of ourselves


 Someone dear has left us
But so many beautiful memories remain

Lily always came straight to the point and she would say to you all

When I am gone, release me, let me go

I have so many things to see and do.

You must not tie yourself to me with tears

 be happy that we had so many years.


I gave you my love, you can only guess

how much you gave me in happiness.

I thank you for the love you each have shown,

but now it is time I travelled on alone.


So grieve a while for me, if grieve you must

then let your grief be comforted by trust.

It is only for a while that we must part

so bless the memories within your heart.


I will not be far away, for life goes on

so if you need me, call and I will come

Though you cannot see or touch me, I will be near

 and if you listen with your heart

 you will hear all of my love around you soft and clear


Then, when you must come this way alone,

I will greet you with a smile and a 'Welcome Home'



In farewelling Lily, know that nothing can now detract from the joy and beauty you shared with her. Nothing can possibly affect the happiness and depth of experience that she. herself knew. What has been, has been forever - the past with all its meanings is sacred and secure. Your love for Lily and her love for you - her family and friends, cannot be altered by time or circumstance.

 Remember Lily as the living, vital and warm presence that she was.



 Thank you Lily

We are glad that you lived.

We are glad that we saw your face and felt the pressure of your hand

Thank you for the good times

Thank you for your hard work

We cherish the memory of your words, deeds and character

We cherished your friendship and most of all your love.

You leave this world a richer place than you found it.

Farewell Lily, Mum,

As a way of saying a final goodbye to Lily, I invite each of you to place a flower upon her casket.


Harry Seccombe - "Abide with me"

 May you find richness, example and tranquility in your many memories of Lily - and have peace in your hearts.

 Concluding Music:

Sarah Brightman - "Time to Say Goodbye"

 Prepared and delivered by

Colleen L Baird,


7 Te Mara Place,

New Plymouth, New Zealand


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