Parish of Leatherhead - Celia Hamilton
and remembering John and Mary Hamilton
RANDALLS PARK CREMATORIUM
Celebrating the Life of
Celia Beatrice Hamilton
30.10.21 - 11.02.2018
Wednesday 7th March 2018, 4.15 p.m.
|Order of Service
Conducted by Reverend Graham Osborne
“Fantasia on Greensleeves”
by Ralph Vaughan Williams
WELCOME AND OPENING PRAYER
HYMN: Lord of All Hopefulness
2 Corinthians 4:14-5:1
Read by Angus Hamilton
Because we know
that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from
the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you
himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is
more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to
the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting
away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our
light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal
glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on
is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we
have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built
by human hands.
Mum was born on 30th October 1921 in Windsor and 96 when she died.
One of the things that she hoped for was to reach a hundred and get a
telegram from the Queen. I didn’t have the heart to say that telegrams
were no longer in use and as Mum didn’t have a mobile phone, email
address, Facebook or Twitter account, I’m not sure how the message would
have been delivered! It was always going to be a close run thing
between the two of them as to which one would survive the longest. As Mum
had 4½ years’ start over the Queen, the odds were that the Queen would be
the winner of that race and so it proved.
Mum was a keen supporter of the Royal Family and the Queen in particular.
In fact they shared very similar qualities: commitment to their vows in
marriage, to their country and their community, their sense of duty and
their sense of humour.
Her father, George Flegg, was born on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk
and worked there as a young man, before becoming a fireman and ultimately
joining the Metropolitan Police, part of the Royal Protection Force, and
the reason the Flegg family lived in Windsor when Mum was born.
|Mum was the second daughter to George and Beatrice, her mother.
Her elder sister, Florence, had been born two years’ earlier. As a
little girl, Mum found Florence hard to pronounce, so she named
her big sister Bobbie. Bobbie called Mum, Bay.
I still don’t know the reason why, but Bobbie and Bay
they remained all their lives. They were the best of friends and
great support for each other. I remember them calling each other
on Sunday evenings for a catch up, even if it meant going out to
find a telephone box with a pocket full of coins.
When George, Mum’s father, retired from the Police Force, the
family returned to Gaywood, a suburb of King’s Lynn, and Mum
attended the local Gaywood Council School, leaving aged 14 just
before Christmas in 1935. The Head Teacher’s remarks on her final
school report say, “She has done well and has been most useful as
a prefect. Very reliable and painstaking in all she does.
Exceedingly neat in bookwork.”
Cast out into the big wide world at 14, the neat bookwork got her
a job as an assistant book-keeper at a hardware store in King’s
Lynn, passing her exams in book-keeping with credit in 1939.
In the meantime her father had found the ideal retirement job as
the gatekeeper to the castle at Castle
Rising. The job came with tenancy of a brick and flint
cottage by the castle entrance to which the family moved and
remained in until Mum’s Mum and then Father died.
It may have looked chocolate box pretty but it was basic inside:
no running water with the tap across the road, outside toilet and
a coal fired range for cooking and heating, but they were happy.
Mum remained at home working in King’s Lynn during the early years
of the war and the family survived pretty well. George was handy
with a gun and their rations were supplemented with rabbit and the
odd pheasant. Mum always enjoyed game, particularly pheasant,
throughout her life.
As the War progressed Mum decided to do her bit for the War effort
and enlisted into the WAAF. Again her book-keeping skills got her
the role as a pay clerk. Life was not easy living and working in
unheated Nissen huts on the Plain of York in winter. She moved to
various Air Force bases but the best was the base near Cheltenham
She made lots of friends in the WAAF, especially Joan Herd and Dorothy
Ayrton and remained in touch with them long after the war had ended. Mum
joined the Women’s
Auxiliary Air Force Association supporting the reunions and
reliving those times. Mum liked the environment and atmosphere of the
planes and airfields. This remained with her all her life, happy to see
Concorde in the sky over Leatherhead. However, she didn’t fly in a plane
until 1976 when she came out to visit me for the first time in Greece,
where I was working. Needless to say she loved the experience.
Mum was demobbed from the WAAF in February 1947 and her Commanding Officer
wrote “Very conscientious and hard working; Corporal Flegg has shown an
aptitude for complicated work requiring patience and determination.
Strongly recommended for any type of clerical work.” Back in civvies, Mum
found work in the accounts department of Bourne and Hollingsworth,
an Oxford Street department store. Mum lived in their staff quarters at
Warwickshire House on Gower Street, again making friends. I particularly
remember Muriel Farmer, who Mum said was amazing at numbers. Mum was no
slouch when it came to figure work, so Muriel must have been quite
Whilst both were serving in the Metropolitan Police, George Flegg and
William John (Jack) Hamilton, my father’s father, became friends, with
their families knowing each other all their lives. Mum remembered them all
as children roly-polying down the sides of the moat of the castle at
After the war, Dad returned from his war service with the army in Burma
and their relationship blossomed. They married in the Church at Castle
Rising on 21st August 1948. My father had by then completed his degree at
Balliol College, Oxford, his studies having been interrupted by the war,
and took his first job as a classics teacher at Dulwich College. The bonus
for the newly-weds was a house on the school estate. They both learned how
to play Mahjong and they spent many a happy evening with colleagues and
friends. It remains a favourite family game.
My sister, Mary, was born in November 1952 at King’s College Hospital,
Denmark Hill. As food rationing was still in operation at that time, Mum’s
father used to send a dozen fresh eggs a week from Norfolk to Dulwich to
improve the diet of both mother and child. The eggs were sent in a wooden
box George had made, with internal sections covered with felt to protect
the eggs on the journey. Mum continued to use that egg box even up to the
time we moved to Leatherhead.
As Dad became more experienced, he moved first to St. Olave’s School in
London and then, as Head of the Classics Department, to Liverpool
Collegiate School. This meant a house move for Mum with a little girl 2½
years old and another baby on the way. Mum and Dad rented a house in
Blundellsands, on the outskirts of Liverpool and on the banks of the
Mersey. She wrote a postcard home, shortly after arriving, “It is
delightful, rather like Dulwich without the hills and no bombed houses. We
are five minutes’ walk from the beach and can see the sea from our top
windows. Gradually getting settled.” That is pure Mum, positive.
I was born at home in December 1955 and for a while Mum had a house
keeper, Margaret, to help her. I remember Mum saying that she found it
quite lonely in Liverpool and, apart from meeting a few other Mums at
Mary’s nursery school, she found it hard to make new friends. It was her
mother who suggested the Mothers’ Union and Mum became a member on 19th
June 1958. It certainly helped and Mum remained a member until her death,
almost 60 years. I understand that today there would have been a regular
meeting of the Leatherhead branch and that has been deferred to allow
members to attend this service. Thank you.
In 1959, Dad was appointed Headmaster of Normanton Grammar School in West
Yorkshire. This meant yet another house move to a large school house with
open coal fires downstairs, coal-fired range in the kitchen and gas fires
upstairs. Ice on the inside of the windows was a regular feature in the
severe winters we experienced in the 1960s. Although at first Mum found it
difficult being the Headmaster’s wife, a prominent position in a working
town, with her gentle and caring nature she soon warmed to the task.
Normanton was a mining town, the men were hard, the women harder, but Mum
was a constant at home, the breakfast table laid before she went to bed,
cooked breakfast for Dad, food ready when we got home, cakes or cherry
buns, shortbread or oatcake for tea, muddy rugby kit washed and ready for
the next day, unflustered when she had to provide meals at short notice,
or formal meals for visiting dignitaries for speech days or special
events, singing or whistling as she worked.
In Normanton, church became a central part of our lives: Dad read the
lessons, Mum was in the Mother’s Union and on the Parish Council and I
sang in the choir and rang the bells. It was at this time Mum was told of
an opportunity to become part of the Church as a part time auxiliary and a
Hospital Chaplain’s Assistant. As the role required Mum to make hospital
visits, she needed to learn to drive, which she did, and passed her test
first time at the age of 47. She completed her Church training and started
work as a Chaplain’s Assistant at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
In the summer of 1970, the family came south and moved into a house in
Reigate Road, Leatherhead, Dad taking up the position of Headmaster at
Dorking Grammar School. Mum became the Chaplain’s Assistant at Dorking
Hospital, which at that time specialized in hip replacement operations.
When Dorking reduced in size, Mum continued her Assistant Chaplain’s role
at Epsom General Hospital. Goodness knows over the years how many patients
she met with that warm smile, listened to their concerns and fears, gave
comfort and support, said prayers and blessings and left them feeling calm
and prepared for their pending operation or their recuperation. Even if we
had asked (we didn’t) she would never reveal anything of those meetings.
It was no doubt part of her training, but also something that both Mum and
her sister, Bobbie, learned from their policeman father.
Mum joined Leatherhead branch of The Mothers’ Union and took up country
dancing, which she really loved. She joined the congregation at St. Mary
and St. Nicholas, Leatherhead, serving on the Parish Council and Deanery
Synod. She also attended the services at Leatherhead Hospital, many of
which she lead.
It was whilst at Leatherhead that Mum learned of the sudden and premature
death of her brother in law, Rex, at 59 and a few years later her beloved
sister Bobbie at 66. I know Mum was a huge support to her three nieces,
Jill, Ros and Isabel (Inkie), their husbands and families at that
difficult time. Mum kept in regular contact with them all, never
forgetting birthdays or Christmas.
In June 2007 my sister Mary died as the result of injuries sustained in a
car accident and Dad followed a year or so later in November 2008, unable
to cope with the loss of his daughter. This was a hard time for Mum, over
the years she had been a constant support for them and, along with her
patience and tender care, she had seen both of them through their
However, for the last 10 years, our family have been able to enjoy Mum’s
good humour, her interest in all that we have done, her joy at Jocelyn’s
marriage to Matthew, Angus’ sporting and academic achievements and our
animals. As for me, it was never a burden to go over and see her at
weekends, or at any other time she needed help, take her to an
appointment, get her shopping or sort out her pills.
Mum was glad to see me and grateful for whatever I did for her. Mum and I
were kindred spirits, making each other laugh and mimicking the various
dialects we picked up, especially Yorkshire. She was always happy for a
cup of tea and a biscuit, Digestive preferably, a piece of cherry cake or
a cherry bun. Inkie, her youngest niece, was also a regular visitor always
ready to chat about Bobbie and the rest of her family in Norfolk.
Mum’s wish was that she remain in her home and that was achieved, until
her final visit to hospital, by the help, kindness and support she
received from her neighbours in Fairfield Road, especially Keith, Arlene
and Mackenzie, who lived next door and lately Gill, who lives next door,
the doctors and nurses at the Ashlea Medical Practice, Dr. Hagley in
particular, the assistance provided by Home Instead, Epsom and their
carers Lynda and Annie and last, but by no means least, the church and
local community in Leatherhead who like a well-oiled machine scooped Mum
up from home, wheeled her up the slope and into church and dropped her
back after the service, the members of the Mother’s Union, the leaders of
the bible reading groups, the stall holders at the Friday market and the
team that provided the lunches at the Parish Hall on the second Sundays of
the month. Thank you all.
Since Mum died, I have not met anyone who had a bad word to say about her.
Without fail, all have remarked what a wonderful, kind and gracious lady
she was. Her inner contentment and her resilience to adversity was
astonishing, bouncing back from injuries sustained in a car accident,
infections and proud of her health. She was not one to dwell on
yesterday but to look forward to tomorrow and the future.
I will close now with Mum’s own words, which she wrote when she applied
for the training course for her role in the Church:
“Firstly, I think I want to do this work
as a thanksgiving and memorial to my parents’ lives. They have been a
constant inspiration and guidance in my life;
although I have often been many miles from them, their Christian
guidance and training in my early life has always been my mainstay. It
is with joy, not sorrow, that I have seen two Christian lives completed,
as they should be, in service to others.
Secondly, four years in the WAAF during the war taught me that the only
way to survive temptations, hardship and sometimes suffering was to lead
a Christian life. So many young people fell away because they just had
not got the necessary qualities deeply inside them. It is only when one
is thrust into strange circumstances that one knows the value of a sound
Mum closes by saying “It becomes more and more clear to me that women,
properly trained to use their natural gifts to the best advantage, could
do some very valuable work for the community.”
I think the world is slowly waking up to that last sentence.
Mum’s Christian life here is now complete. I hope the memory of her will
remain an inspiration to you.
Read by Jocelyn Hamilton
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush.
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
THE PRAYERS including
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
But deliver us from evil,
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever,
HYMN: The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended
THE COMMENDATION & COMMITTAL
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Andrew and family would like to thank everyone for coming today. After
this service you are warmly invited to join the family for refreshments at
Woodlands Park Hotel.
If you would like to make a donation in memory of Celia please make
cheques payable to “Christian Aid” via L. Hawkins and Sons Ltd, Highlands
Rd, Leatherhead KT22 8ND
see also Mary Hamilton
Frank Haslam writes
: I well
remember Celia and Mary writing in the parish magazine telling us about
events in the Gambia, and Celia at meetings of a committee dealing with
Missions chaired by Sandy Morris. She was part of our Christian Aid team
of collectors. And as sidesman, the pleasure of greeting her, ever
quietly smiling, as she was delivered to church by Chris Hodson.
Until very recently I had not 'joined up the dots' on the Hamilton
family's interest in The Gambia - John Hamilton's wartime experiences in
Africa and Burma were with men from that area. He wrote an invaluable
account (War Bush: 81 (West African) Division in Burma 1943-1945
2001) of the little recognised contribution made by them in Burma,
itself a campaign fought by the 'Forgotten Army'.
Sue Roberts and Margaret Jones write
: Celia was a member of our
Bible Study Group, familiarly known as “the Monday Group”, from the
One of us would collect her and take her home afterwards. She always
enjoyed riding around Leatherhead, particularly if we were picking up
another member or two. She enjoyed the companionship in the Group, and
working her way through the New Testament, or the seasonal course we
were following. Her comment was always “A very interesting meeting”.
When we think of Celia we always remember her quiet, happy smile. And
that is a memory that will remain with us.
you have photos of Celia or a further remembrance to add, please contact Frank
Haslam, the editor of these pages.
page added 18 Mar 18: updated 30 Mar 18
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