Parish of Leatherhead

Tributes to David Heath LVO, 22 July 1927-17 July 2006
Linda Heath 20 August 1931-21 May 2013


David Heath LVO, 22 July 1927-17 July 2006

The funeral service
Appreciation by Anthony Carroll, cousin in law
Compilation of tributes read by Michael Lewis, friend and former Chairman of the Friends of Leatherhead Parish Church and former churchwarden
Canon David Eaton's Address
David Heath RIP: Newsletter of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society, August 2006

from the September 2006 Parish Magazine
Thank You I would like to thank all the many people who have sent messages of sympathy since David's death in July. To have such tremendous support is to feel one really belongs to a Church "family". Linda Heath

The service was taken by Canon David Eaton, Vicar of Leatherhead:

Hymn: O Jesus I have promised
Psalm 46: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Tributes by Anthony Carroll (cousin in law) and Michael Lewis (friend)
Hymn: All my hope on God is founded
Reading by Stephen Madgwick (brother in law): St Paul's Epistle to the Romans ch8 v31-39
Address: Canon David Eaton
Hymn (Descant by Linda Heath): The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended

Donations at the service went to the British Lung Foundation

Anthony Carroll: David was my cousin in-law.

I first met David shortly before he and my cousin Linda were to be married. I was invited along with my parents and younger brother by Linda's father, my uncle John, to their house in Mallord Street in London to meet David.

In those bachelor days David had a 1931 Lanchester, a true sit-up-and-beg type of car. We had just arrived and were standing on the pavement outside when the dashing, carefree David came careering round the corner on two wheels, finishing up with a flourish outside the house.

I was learning to drive round about this time and David kindly let me try driving his first new car, a Volkswagen Beetle. I remember that in this car you had to push the pedals much further than any car I had learnt on previously. He remained faithful to Volkswagen cars having several Beetles and then Volkswagen Golfs.

During his long and varied career he and Linda had several overseas postings. It was whilst they were visiting Hong Kong I celebrated my twenty first birthday. They sent me a pair of Chinese cufflinks and a silver tankard which I still have to this day.

Later on when in Beirut, before all the troubles when Beirut was the Monte Carlo of the Eastern Mediterranean, they adopted an 'Arab alley cat' which they named Mimi. She had a somewhat Bohemian nature and they had rescued her from a basement. This may have been the start of asylum seekers coming to the UK as David and Linda gave this cat refugee status in Leatherhead where she very quickly adapted to suburban life. This cat was the start of a succession of much loved cats that they had in St John's Avenue.

One of David's hobbies was making and exquisitely carving full size rocking horses producing several, the first one they kept and called Pegasus. Later on when our two daughters were grown up with children of their own David and Linda took on the roll of surrogate grandparents to our grandchildren with both parties benefiting greatly from this. He very kindly loaned Amy, our eldest grandchild, his beloved Pegasus rocking horse to keep in her own home and for it then to be passed on to other members of the family.

When Amy was about three years old and she and her parents were visiting Linda and David they asked Chris and Jennie where they would like to go for lunch; Amy piped up "the pub". So the pub it was. On arrival Amy announced that she wanted to sit next to "Him". Him was David, and a special relationship was born.

I shall always remember David's dry wit and the somewhat lugubrious way he had of relating his many tales and descriptions of his adventures. One of these being about 4 foot long centipedes that he encountered in the Far East and described by David as being like miniature tube trains.

His reminiscences of his work with the royal palaces, especially the restoration of Hampton Court Palace were fascinating, particularly the problems of convincing bricklayers that the manner of laying bricks was much more important than speed. Indeed 12 bricks a day was the maximum if they were to be laid to David's exacting ancient royal palace standards.

Once retired David decided he had had enough of telephones and it was always a struggle to manage to speak to him before he quickly said "Here's Linda" or "I'll just get Linda".

We shall miss him enormously and we will always remember him with great affection.

The next was compiled from tributes from various people received by Linda Heath and delivered at A Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of David Hugh Heath on Friday 28th July 2006 by Mike Lewis, who made a small addition:

David was such a modest and unassuming person that he could never believe that anyone really cared about him or took any real interest in him. He would have been absolutely amazed to read all the many, many tributes that people have paid him in their letters and cards to Linda.

What do people most remember about him?

The things that stand out most of all in nearly all these tributes are that he was a true gentleman; his ready wit and humour; his kindness and concern for others, both young and old; and his readiness to help in any situation of crisis or need. Never was this seen more than after the fire in this church in 1989 when David worked tirelessly to help repair some of the damage done to the fabric of the church. The photo on the cover of the service sheet shows him in his blue boiler suite, patiently cleaning the angels on the reredos behind the altar.

He spent many days working on them - Alison Wright wrote an amusing article for the parish magazine about the blue ghost who haunted the church, emerging from time to time to the churchyard for a quick cigarette. Another task he helped with after the fire was dismantling the old pipe organ and laying out over 2,000 pipes on the pews.

Among the many other things he did for the church were lifting and repairing all the metal grids over the central heating pipes in the floor which were in a very dangerous condition. When any of the wooden supports for the pews collapsed, it was always David who came and re-fixed them. Needless to say, he never expected thanks or gratitude for whatever he undertook - he just got on with the job.

When the Friends of the Parish Church held an auction in 1988 to raise money for the restoration of the church, David made a small very simple rocking horse for it.

In the churchyard, he was always ready to help with any clearing, and there was a time in the late 1980s when he and Warner Wright spent days cutting the grass at the far end of the churchyard with scythes.

In later years when he was not able to help with work in the churchyard, he spent an enormous amount of time with Linda helping to finish recording all the memorial inscription in the churchyard.

In 1988, when Linda was churchwarden, she designed the churchyard Garden of Remembrance for burial of ashes and David drew the plans for this.

He also gave a lot of his time and attention to helping with any projects for the Museum at Hampton Cottage. When it was decided to excavate the well in the garden there in 1990, David was there every day with the team helping to sift through all the earth and rubble brought up to the surface. Using his talent for jigsaw puzzles, he was able to reassemble a large meat platter from the many fragments of it brought up from different levels in the well.

When he was not engaged in all these activities, he spent a great deal of time, as we know, making rocking horses. Many people used to stop and chat to him on their way past the house and watch his progress on the various rocking horses as he carved them in the garage. One of David's rocking horses has graced the landing of Cherry House [the Lewis home] since 1994 and has given great pleasure to all of our grandchildren.

He was an avid reader and had a very extensive knowledge of history and foreign countries and their histories. He was a tremendous support to Linda in all her activities and took immense pride in what she did, not least in when she was elected as Chairman of the Local History Society. On one occasion, this posed an unexpected problem when he went to help at the Museum, but had no key. When he went to collect a key from the people who held it, they asked who he was, and he had to give the somewhat curious reply - "Oh" he said, "I'm the Chairman's husband!"

We have heard how many people described him as a true gentleman, and this would have pleased him more than anything. When he was a small boy at school his class was asked to write down what they thought a gentleman was. David wrote "A gentleman is someone who everyone respects." David was held not only in respect, but with great love and affection by all who knew him.

Spain 1985

Canon David Eaton's Address:

David was born in Ealing and went to school there where he showed an early interest in both art and history. At the age of 7 or 8 he created his own version of the Bayeux Tapestry and wrote the following delightfully succinct poem about the death of King William Rufus:

Rufus the Red
Was shot in the head
And as he fell dead
He said "Oh my poor head!"

He became an architect, but his main interest was in the construction rather than the design of buildings. As with everything else, he was an immensely practical man - definitely a `hands-on' type of architect. In 1953 he joined the Colonial Service and went out to Malaya where he spent five years designing and constructing many buildings, including schools, and a training college, now the University of North Malaysia.

This was during the Emergency when the Communist terrorists were creating havoc there and David spent nearly all his free time fighting terrorists in the jungle with the Reserve Corps of the Federation of Malaya. He left Malaya when it became independent in 1958 and returned to England where he worked at Chessington for what later became the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, designing army barracks in Hong Kong.
David escorting the Duke of Edinburgh during his visit to 'C' Company, 1st Battn, Reconnaissance Regiment, in Penang 1957

They returned to England in 1964 and bought their present house in Leatherhead in 1965 but again they were sent abroad - this time to the Lebanon where they lived in Beirut for three years.

David was in charge of all Embassy and Consular buildings throughout the Middle East - the work entailed a lot of security measures and meant he had to travel regularly over a very wide territory from Athens and the Balkan states to Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Cyprus.

He and Linda were married in 1960 and lived first in Little Bookham, but in 1961 they went out to Hong Kong for three years where he was much happier constructing the barracks and working on site.

On returning to England in 1964 he worked for various departments in the Civil Service over the next twenty years, some of which also were not without their excitements. He was working for the Post Office & Telecommunications department when the IRA left a bomb near the top of the Post Office Tower. Because of its height, this presented quite a logistical rebuilding problem.

Later on, David was working for the London royal palaces when Hampton Court caught fire, but luckily he had retired by the time the fire occurred at Windsor, or we might wonder if he had become careless with his matches! Being Surveyor to the Royal Palaces was his final post in which, again, his work was primarily concerned with security. For his work in this field he was made a Lieutenant of the Victorian Order (LVO) on his 60th birthday in 1987. He particularly valued this order because it is a gift from the Queen, not from the government.

As we have heard, David was a very active person and his illness in recent months restricted his activities more and more, which was very hard for him to accept. However, he was able to remain at home until just two days before the end of his life. When the end came, it was sudden and unexpected, but perhaps that is how he would have wished it, and perhaps the happiest outcome for him under the circumstances.

(After this, the Vicar went on to say quite a lot about David's character and what a stay and support he had been in helping to look after the church building. He finished up by saying that no doubt he would be helping to 'touch up' some angels in Heaven!)

from the August 2006 Newsletter of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society

The Society mourns the passing of a staunch member. The husband of our president Linda Heath. He passed away on 16th July. Many were present at his funeral service which took place at St Mary and St Nicholas church, Leatherhead on Friday, 28th July.

David who was an architect by profession, played an important part in the affairs of the Society and was a key player in the development of the museum in its early days. Roddy Clube who was with him during the post-war years when both were posted abroad on Government business, tells of David’s role in helping to ensure the safe conservation of artefacts destined for the Leatherhead museum whilst the building was being renovated.

In the first instance the objects were stored in a garage, then subsequently transferred to a basement at a building named The Priory (still the museum’s store house). There was plenty of space here but the extreme dampness of the cellar was a threat to the sound preservation of many items. He explained how David came to the rescue by constructing an airtight enclosure which housed de-humidifying equipment. Thus many vulnerable artefacts were saved from deterioration.

Speakers at the funeral service paid tribute to David, first and foremost as a kind and gentle person ever ready to lend a hand in a practical way whenever there was a need. A perfect example of this was during the aftermath of the serious fire at Leatherhead parish church: he gave himself unstintingly to assist in the renovation of the damaged interior.

Referring to his work at the museum, one speaker recalled the time when the contents of the well in the garden were being dug out and sorted. This was an immense job with many curious objects being mingled with much debris. Thanks to his skill and patience David was able to piece together assortments of pottery fragments at various levels. His painstaking efforts resulted in the reconstruction of some interesting pieces of domestic tableware from earlier times.

We share with Linda our sadness at the loss of a dear and noble person.

from the December 2009 magazine
From the Magazine 20 years ago: New ghost in the church
Throughout November people have reported seeing the motionless figure of a man crouching on top of the high altar in the Parish Church. The ghost of a chancel monk, exchanging brown habit for blue dungarees? No, the monk never leaves the church, and this man periodically goes outside to pace up and down the churchyard, smoking a cigarette.

The sly shades of a rural dean? No, this man seldom spoke. Motionless? At a distance, yes, but come closer and you see his hand move. He is clutching a toothbrush – better not go too close. He sees you. He speaks. "This dear little one has lost all her toes" he says, and strokes the feet of one of the alabaster angels on the reredos with the toothbrush. Poor fellow, you say, and escape. Perhaps you did not notice that the angel on the left is a delicate shade of white, while the right hand one is dark grey.

You enquire and discover that it is David Heath LVO, lately architect to Her Majesty's palaces, whose greatest joy in retirement has been to refurbish various parts of the church. The jobs he finds are always time-consuming, intricate and mucky.

Go inside the church today and see what he's doing now. And while you're there have a look at the angels, all of them.
Alison Wright

David's page last updated 1 Dec 2009: 8 Feb 2018
David's images: Linda Heath

Linda Heath 20 August 1931-21 May 2013

A Service of Thanksgiving
for the life of

Linda Heath

20th August 1931-21st May 2013

Wednesday 12th June 2013

Parish Church of St Mary & St Nicholas

Music before service and on entry

James O'Donnell
Organist and master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey
who as a longstanding family friend has kindly agreed to play
Thomas Parker Organ in tribute to Linda

Sentences, Welcome and Introduction

Hymn - O Jesus I have promised


Psalm 150: alternate verses read by priest and congregation:

Allelulia: O praise God in his holiness; praise him in the firmament of his power
Praise him for his mighty acts; praise him according to his excellent greatness

Praise him with the blast of the trumpet; praise him upon the harp and lyre.
Praise him with timbrel and dances; praise him on the strings and pipe.

Praise him with ringing cymbals; praise him on the clashing cymbals.
Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be forever, Amen

Reading - Romans 8:31-39
Stephen Madgwick, Linda's brother-in-law

Address - Rev Graham Osborne.

[extract] A year or two ago, after a funeral here, Linda and I got talking about funerals and she said "Oh I hope they get it right at my funeral." I said "Sit down and write it out, say what you want." So she did. So what we have here is the service that Linda put together.

Outline of my life by Linda Heath

What would I like to have as an epitaph in just two words? Lots of things I might like to have said about me, but I think the most damning would be “Too busy”. It’s so easy to forget other people when we are busy with things that occupy our time. I sometimes think that life could be summed up briefly as “Too difficult”. But perhaps what I would most like to have is a description of me made many years ago as a local music teacher – “Very cheerful”. I always tried to be that no matter how I was feeling.

I have had such a fortunate life and every day I give thanks for health, friends and family. I was born in 1931 and grew up in Aberdeen where my father was professor of Natural Philosophy at the university, but in 1942 he became Chief Scientific Advisor to the Admiralty in London [editor: Sir John Carroll, as he became, was a post-war Deputy Director of R&D at the Admiralty. He died in 1974. Linda was the child of his first marriage, to an American. Linda thus had a number of American relations.], so as my parents had separated, I went to live with an aunt who looked after me like a mother.

St Margaret's School, Aberdeen, 1935

Linda - 'Dumfries 1943'

In 1943 I went to Benenden, evacuated to Newquay at that time, where I was very happy and also in Kent when the school returned there after the war. After leaving school I studied at the Royal Academy of Music and then went to teach at Wycombe Abbey in 1953. However, I decided I wanted to see a bit of the world so I went to Canada in 1955 and taught music for two years in Quebec province and then in Montreal for one year.

It was on the return journey from Montreal in 1958 that the whole course of my life changed when I met David. He was returning from working as an architect for the Colonial Office in Malaya and we were both immediately drawn to each other, though David was planning to go overseas again. However, he in fact joined the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works at Chessington where he was designing buildings for the army in Hong Kong.

We were married at Chelsea Old Church in 1960 and rented a house in Little Bookham and I taught music at the Howard of Effingham School and the Leatherhead School of Music, at that time in Devon House, Church Road.
photo dated 26th March 1960

In 1961 we went out to Hong Kong for three years, which was absolutely marvellous. We returned to England in 1964 and bought our house in St. John’s Avenue in March 1965.

In 1966 we were again on the move – this time to Beirut. David was transferred to the Diplomatic and Consular Service and he was responsible for the maintenance and security of all embassies and consular buildings throughout the Middle East. It was a big job and involved a great deal of travelling. We were able to travel to some places together, such as Tehran, Isfahan, Persepolis, Cairo, Luxor, Cyprus and Athens, which was wonderful to see all these places. I gave some piano recitals in Jordan for the British Council, who then paid my expenses.

Linda in Beirut

Linda, September 1968

We came back to Leatherhead in 1969 and I resumed my teaching at the Leatherhead School of Music. In 1977 Sheila Hind, the Principal, retired and Mrs. Wolff who ran the Secretarial School in Bridge Street took over the Music School and I was the Musical Director (Acting unpaid!) there for several years.

Dynamic Linda

In the 1980s two very important events took place in my life – in 1986, much to my astonishment, our vicar at that time, Sandy Morris, asked me to be Churchwarden. I was amazed, but very honoured. I had Sydney Brown as my fellow churchwarden for the first two years, and then Ken Barber. In 1988 we set about a major restoration of the church, starting with the roof and going on to the inside. It cost a great deal and took an enormous amount of fund-raising, but we held lots of events to raise the money for it which were all great fun and provided many friendships and goodwill among our members. It was completed by Easter 1989, only to have a fire break out beside the organ later that year. The whole church had to be redecorated, but fortunately, the insurance paid for it and not too many things were destroyed.

Our vicar, Sandy Morris, left in 1988 so there was also a lot more to do during the nine month interval before David Eaton arrived. The last thing I did as churchwarden in 1989 was to design the Garden of Remembrance for the burial of ashes, and this is something in which I take real pride. The reason for this was because we were no longer allowed to have plaques in the ground for burial of ashes. My idea was to have three encircling walls with plaques on them as ‘arms’ round the area for ashes, though as it happens, a second garden has been created before the encircling walls were built, but both gardens can have encircling walls in due course.

The first wall of Remembrance, in 2004
source: Haslam

The other event which gave me great satisfaction was the creation of A Rich Inheritance – an enactment of historical events in Leatherhead to be performed in the church. This was first performed in 1995, then in 2000 and again in 2008. It was really exciting to see these events being brought to life and we all formed lasting friendships in the course of rehearsals. It is my hope that this may continued to be performed in the church at regular intervals.

from the 1995 production of A Rich Inheritance: the date of this scene is 2nd October 1806.
Dr Lawdell informs Caroline, Princess of Wales (L) that Miss Harriot Mary Cholmondeley, who was attending her on a visit to Norbury
Park, is dead following a coaching accident on their approach to Leatherhead. This event is commemorated by a plaque in the church.
source: Haslam

All these various events though are as nothing compared to everything I have received – health; love from family and friends, above all from David who was my help and support at all times; and for the friendship of so many people.

2007: Inaugural concert for the Thomas Parker Georgian Organ
in Leatherhead Parish Church: Linda with Benenden
school-friend Gillian Womersley, mother of James O'Donnell,
Organist and master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey
source: Haslam

2011: L-R: Gwen Hoad - Linda - Celia Marchisio
music making
source: Marchisio

I have indeed been fortunate and I am grateful to everyone – thank you all.

Hymn - All My Hope On God Is Founded

Prayers, ending with the Lord's Prayer

Hymn - The Day Thou Gavest: Descant written by Linda Heath


Go forth on thy journey from The Dream of Gerontius - Elgar



Exit Music Now Thank We All Our God (Nun danket)

The service was followed by a Private Cremation.

Service conducted by The Revd Graham Osborne.
Organists: James O'Donnell and Gina Eason.

Donations, please, to Music in Hospitals.

The family invited the congregation to the Parish Hall for refreshments after the service.

My Cousin Linda - by Anthony Carroll

I knew Linda all of my life. When Linda’s parents split up she came to live with my Father and Mother and she always told me about how she used to push me in my pram. In those days prams were huge, more like a small carriage. Linda must have been about 11 years old at the time. She was at my christening in her school uniform complete with straw hat. It being wartime my Father, who had the temporary rank of colonel, was in charge of a military hospital. He was moved round the country and Linda moved with us until it was time for her to go to boarding school.

Her father, who was until 1942 Professor of Natural Philosophy at Aberdeen University, moved south to take up the position of chief scientist at the Admiralty. He rented a house for himself and Linda at Denham in Buckinghamshire. The other part of this large house was occupied by Malcolm Sargeant the conductor. This was named the White House and is the house where Cilla Black now lives. Linda spent her holidays from boarding school there and I stayed with them one weekend when I was about 6. I remember that they had a tethered goat to keep the grass down and to provide milk.

Linda was very talented musically and went to the Royal Academy of Music. At one time she thought she might like to join the WRAF and went on a taster course with several other girls to test their suitability for military life. One of the challenges Linda told me of was how to cross an imaginary bottomless chasm with only two planks, neither of which was long enough to reach across. She decided the WRAF was not for her and taught music instead.

I attended her wedding to David in 1960. Her father had remarried and was living in Mallord Street in London from which Linda departed for the church and her marriage.

Linda and David travelled a lot due to David’s work. They were in Hong Kong when I was 21 and they sent me two silver Chinese tankards for my 21st birthday. In 1966 Linda and David transferred to Beirut. In those days it rivalled the south of France for elegance and climate and sophistication. A stray alley cat adopted them and rather than abandon it when they left for the UK they brought it with them to Leatherhead where it lived a long and happy life.

Linda had a tremendous knowledge and love of Leatherhead and we remember going to her production in the church of the history of Leatherhead [A Rich Inheritance]. Her brother in law Stephen, my wife and I were left in her house in St John’s Avenue with a sumptuous cold buffet she had prepared for us. Linda went on well ahead to organise everything for the evening’s performance at the church. We enjoyed the meal she had left us so much that we had to rush to get to the performance on time. We arrived to find a very agitated Linda telling us that we had lost our seats she was trying to keep for us! It was a fascinating evening and we enjoyed hearing all about Leatherhead’s past that Linda had so brilliantly written about.

Sadly Linda and David were not able to have any children and when our first granddaughter Amy was born they took to her as a surrogate granddaughter. There was a real bond between David, Linda and Amy. Only a few weeks before she died, Linda took Amy to see a performance of The Gondoliers which they both enjoyed very much. It was incredible that Linda found the strength to do it, but that was Linda. Her courage and determination was an example to us all.

We miss her greatly and above all her love and friendship.

A Tribute to Linda - Roddy Clube

My wife, Mary and I first met Linda and David in 1967 in Beirut, and I recall Linda giving a piano recital for Embassy staff. In June of that year the Arab/Israeli War broke out and lasted seven days. During this period David was very busy putting steel mesh in the basement of the embassy as a precaution. When a small mob formed up outside, there was fear that they might try to burn down the embassy which had happened elsewhere in the past.

We next met up in 1970 when I was serving in Baghdad and the Iraqis broke relations with the UK without warning, and I suddenly found myself back in London. It was very fortunate that Linda and David were able to lend us the use of their house for a couple of days while we were trying to get our own house back.

Linda and I were both involved with the Leatherhead Local History Society. In this she subsequently became President. She built up a repertoire of lectures on persons and subjects such as Fanny Burney, and refugees from the French Revolution who were living at Juniper Hall. The latter included Mme de Stael and General D'Arblay, a French cavalry officer. They lived in the Hermitage in Bookham.

Linda was also very active in Church affairs. She was a Churchwarden and took services at Leatherhead Hospital, playing the piano for the hymns.

Linda was a strong character. She was indefatigable, kindly, and helpful. She was a very good friend who will be greatly missed by many people in addition to me.

For around 30 years, Linda and David, my wife, Mary, and myself met up regularly enjoying many good times together. More recently we continued to meet and I was due to see her on the weekend before she went into hospital. I shall miss her greatly.

I am sad that she has been unable to enjoy the beautiful wisteria at her house this year.
Roddy Clube 22.5.13

Linda Heath - Musician, from Gwen Hoad

This appreciation also appeared in the August 2013 Newsletter of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society

Members of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society know of Linda as a local historian but may not know that she was a professional musician. I had the privilege of playing piano duets with her most weeks for several years. She seemed to be delighted to find someone with whom she could share her enjoyment of music with and was disappointed when something prevented our meeting.

Linda studied at the Royal Academy of Music and qualified as a teacher, a career she followed all her working life. While in London she sang with the Bach Choir but her work took her to Canada. She met her husband, David, on the boat she travelled back to England on. He saw this young woman playing the piano on board and that was that.

David's work as an architect took them to Beirut and Hong Kong for several years, but on their return, Linda taught at the Leatherhead School of Music in Bridge Street. She also taught the piano at home where pupils were able to play on her lovely grand piano. There are local musicians who owe the start of their musical careers to her. She served the church through music, playing for services at All Saints until it closed for worship recently, and at Leatherhead Hospital. She was very involved in the campaign to reinstall the Parker organ at the Parish Church and wrote a booklet about it.

Linda performed on the piano in public from time to time, and was very flattered to have been asked to play in the Chopin Society's members' recital for a second time, which sadly she did not live to do.

An Appreciation of Linda Heath from Peter Tarplee

This appreciation appeared in the August 2013 Newsletter of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society. Peter Tarplee is Vice President and a past Chairman of the Society.

Linda was a member of the local history society for many years and contributed to it in so many ways. She first joined the Executive Committee in 1986 and was elected to be its Chairman three years later a position she held until 1996. In 2002 Linda was appointed to be President of the society, an office which she held until standing down at the 2007 AGM.

She was always willing to work for the society and she was an active member of the Programme Committee as well as a trustee of our museum. When the museum trust ceased to exist as a separate body Linda again became a member of the Executive Committee.

She was a steward at the museum for many years and as well as giving many talks she also contributed to the society by writing a number of books on their behalf.

Linda lived with her husband, David (who died in 2006) in Little Bookham from 1960 but they soon had to spend 3 years abroad where David was working. They returned in 1964 and lived in Leatherhead but a year later they spent 3 years in Beirut.

From the time that they lived permanently in Leatherhead Linda was extremely active in whatever organisation she was involved none so more than the Leatherhead and District Local History Society. Whatever needed doing from making tea to chairing a committee Linda was always willing to take on the task. Our society as so many other organisations in the area will miss Linda very much but we should all be grateful for her contribution over the years.

Linda was very active in Leatherhead Parish Church as churchwarden, archivist, organist and organiser of the Voluntary Car Service. She was a member of Leatherhead Community Association on whose committee she represented the local history society. She also represented L&DLHS and the LCA for many years on the organising committee of Mole Valley Heritage Open Days as well as helping with walks and visits during the weekend.
Peter Tarplee

Some Recollections of Linda from Stephen Fortescue

Stephen Fortescue was a Founder Member of the Leatherhead and District Local History Society and is a past President: these recollections appeared in the August 2013 Newsletter of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society

Linda Heath in the late 1950s or early 1960s had taken up the position of music teacher at a local school and rented a cottage in Little Bookham from Miss Elsie Micholls of Manor Farm, Little Bookham. Miss Micholls was the daughter of the Lord of the Manor of Manor House, Little Bookham. Miss Micholls invited me to take tea with her and to meet Linda and her husband David.

Inevitably the conversation turned to local history and Linda had joined the Society. Miss Micholls' nephew, son of Dr G H Rendell who for a short time was headmaster of Charterhouse, gave a lecture on the History of Little Bookham at which Linda was present. The lecturer always talked with his hands in his trouser pockets. To the alarm of all present his fly buttons were undone - a local resident, Michael Easun prepared and suitably equipped to rush on stage in case anything untoward happened.

Linda became chairman of the Society in 1989 which office she held until 1996 when she was appointed Vice President until 2002 and then President until 2006. She was actively supported by David who was a surveyor at the Office of Works and responsible for the restoration of the Albert Memorial in London.

It was during her term in office as Chairman that the Howard Vault in the Churchyard of St Nicolas in Great Bookham was investigated and supervised and Linda arranged for David to survey the interior. An article appeared as an Occasional Paper No.4 of the History Society and David made a plan of the location of the coffins.

Again with the encouragement of Linda David surveyed the removal of the granary then in the car park of Preston Cross Hotel and the siting of it in the grounds of Manor House School, Little Bookham for its proper restoration. I can remember watching with Linda when David made his first investigation. The floor of the granary was rotten but David crawled underneath and his head popped up through the rotten floor reminiscent of the head of John the Baptist on the plate.

Linda was an indefatigable worker for the Society - her enthusiasm was infectious. She wrote and published many books and pamphlets on the History of Leatherhead and of local schools. She was sometime a churchwarden of St Mary and St Nicholas Parish Church and much of her research related thereto. Her wisdom and enthusiasm will be missed.
SED Fortescue

Linda Heath 1931- 2013

This tribute appeared in the August 2013 Newsletter of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society

It is with sadness to record the death of one of the most dynamic members of the History Society. Linda held many offices including that of Chairman and President and she was also a very active member on various subcommittees and a staunch supporter of the Leatherhead Museum when the building was maintained by a separate charity. She was also instrumental with Gordon Knowles our recent past president in the winding up of the museum trust and steering the merger of the trust with the L&DLHS.

Linda was also active with Peter Tarplee our past Chairman on behalf of the History Society in supporting Heritage Open Days in Mole Valley, attending meetings, working with Rod Shaw and organising and working with the Leatherhead Community Association to mount displays on one or other annual themes set for those days.

Several members have been approached and asked to provide their own recollections of Linda and of her work for the society. They have kindly obliged and I would like to thank them all for their contributions which are in this Newsletter.

Linda Heath, my friend - a personal tribute from Celia Marchisio

I first met Linda and David in 1970 when my family moved to Leatherhead from London. Later in 2000 when my husband John and I finally moved down here we became neighbours. They were so kind, friendly and welcoming, often having us round to the house. Drinks or tea under the magnolia became a favourite, also Sunday lunch.

Linda loved her garden and spent much time in it, enjoying it as well as working hard in it. She had a great love of cats and had many wonderful tales to tell of the cats that she and David had, especially Mimi, the one they brought all the way back from Beirut, the redoubtable Oscar and more latterly Tammy. What a great sense of humour she had and dry wit, such an amusing lady!

It was lovely to walk past Linda's house early in the evening and to hear her playing the piano, as she always did at that time of day and also on a Monday morning when she played duets with her dear friend Gwen. A proud moment was when she played at the Chopin Society's Member Concert in London last year. She was planning to play again this year in July, even though she had broken her shoulder not so long ago!

What enthusiasm and tenacity she had in all that she did and what a lot she did after retiring from Piano teaching. Not one to want to sit around, she was always busy with all her voluntary work, her lectures, her books, the car pool, the museum, the library and all the concerts, lectures and local events she attended. Such a natural organiser! After David, passed away she would still go away sometimes on her own driving to Norfolk or Devon. Where did she get her energy from, I used to wonder!

After my husband passed away in 2010 Linda was even more supportive, holding me together at times and often having me round for supper, which was so appreciated. She was so thoughtful at birthdays and anniversaries, always arranging something for me if I was on my own, such as visits to National Trust places.

She became my closest friend. We went to the New Forest , one of her favourite places, also did a 5-day Rail journey to Wales in 2011, last year a holiday in Vienna & down the Danube and more recently the New Forest just at Easter this year with dear William as well. How wonderful that she was able to enjoy that break near the end of her life and was able to be so active generally.

Linda was always such an interesting and stimulating companion, so good with meeting new people, putting them at their ease. I shall always remember her wonderful smile, which would light up a room. I give thanks for having had such a wonderful friend in my life, for her wonderful life and wish her now the Peace and Joy she deserves. I send her my love, my gratitude and many Blessings.

Despite everything ... from Bernard Salsbury

In his letter of condolence to Linda's brother William, after recalling that he and Linda had served on the committees of a number of local organisations, Bernard continued: Linda gave freely of her time and energies and was especially good at giving presentations on the history of Leatherhead. I had asked her to give one of these to the Probus Club of Leatherhead at the Leatherhead Leisure Centre.

Prior to lunch, after which she was to speak, she carefully set up her slide projector. However, on switching on, the picture was lower on the screen than desired. In an attempt to be helpful I placed a couple of thick wine menus under the front of the projector - whereupon the slide magazine came out and all the slides fell to the floor! Accompanied by a stiff drink, Linda painstakingly restored them in the right order in the magazine, and reloaded.

After lunch she commenced her talk but after one slide the Leisure Centre suffered a complete power failure! Nevertheless Linda proceeded with her excellent lecture without the assistance of her slides. A true reflection of her indomitable spirit.

It has been a privilege to have known such a talented lady.

My Favourite Hobby - Gardening: Linda Heath

For the 2012 December Social Meeting of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society, Linda was one of those who each spoke for five minutes or so on the subject 'My Favourite Hobby'.

I have chosen gardening as my favourite hobby, and when you have heard what I have to say about it, you may well wonder why?

First of all, why do I like gardening? To be honest, I don't – it's just that if it is a nice sunny day, I much prefer to be out in the garden rather than stuck in the house, so gardening is my excuse to be outside. In a way, I look on it as housework in the garden instead of the house.

There are four major handicaps to serious gardening and, unfortunately I suffer from all of them. The first is a total lack of knowledge about plants of all sorts, and a complete inability to remember their names other than say daffodils, daisies and dandelions.

The second handicap is difficulty in kneeling down and, even more, in getting up again. This makes planting very difficult.

The third one is increasingly poor eyesight which makes it hard to read the names of the plants I am buying, and the instructions of how to look after them, plus instructions on boxes, bottles etc. almost impossible.

The last handicap is vertigo. This requires considerable care in getting up after bending down and makes looking upwards to pick or prune plants up above me interesting.

Nevertheless, I press on regardless though, it has to be said, that apart from hang-gliding and bungy-jumping, gardening must be one of the most dangerous occupations, with injuries ranging from splinters, cut fingers, scratched arms and legs to breaking one's neck in falling off a ladder.

As some of you know, I managed to break my hip a year ago just picking runner beans. A more innocent and harmless occupation could hardly be imagined and when I arrived at Guildford hospital they all felt it was the most uncommon cause of a broken hip they had ever heard of. The only reason it happened was because I pulled hard on a high tangle of beans over my head and the whole lot came away, so with no resistance from the plant the beans and I fell heavily onto the patio.

My big worry was that as I had only popped out for a moment or two to pick the beans, I had left the potatoes on the cooker with the gas full on. It was a fine evening in August, so I realised I would come to no harm if I just lay on the patio for a couple of hours until my brother came home. But by that time, the potatoes would have boiled dry, the saucepan would have burned – maybe the kitchen and then the whole house would catch fire.

So I realised I would have to shout for help and hope that eventually some passer-by at the front would hear me. I knew that two lots of neighbours were away, but I shouted and shouted for help, and by great good fortune, the little girl next door was on their patio and heard me calling out and after only about ten minutes her father came round and rescued me. The first thing I asked him was to turn off the potatoes! He phoned for an ambulance, so all was well and I was very lucky, but it does illustrate my point about the dangers of gardening!

So apart from weeding, pruning, planting etc. what is it I like about gardening? I think the answer is the results that all the work brings. I really love my garden – I sit and enjoy it as much as I can from my early morning tea in summer up to a drink before dinner in the evening. It is a real joy to me to see everything come out in due season; snowdrops, crocuses, forsythia, daffodils, etc above all the magnolia tree when it is in full bloom. Few people can enjoy their garden as much as I do. That's why all the time, effort, injuries etc. are worth it.

Leatherhead Advertiser, Thursday 4 July 2013
Indefatigable 'good friend' praised for many talents

Dynamic Linda was kindness personified

Family and friends have paid tribute to a popular woman who was a "dynamo of a person" and loved Leatherhead.

Linda Heath, who has died aged 81 after a 25-year battle with cancer, was a well-known figure round the town, after teaching music to many children. She was also an active member of the Leatherhead Community Association and Leatherhead and District Local History Society.

Born in Aberdeen in 1931, she grew up in the city before attending Benenden boarding school, in Kent, and then the Royal Academy of Music. She then taught music for three years in Canada, before returning to England in 1953. It was on her journey home that she met the man who was to become her husband, David, who was returning from working as an architect for the Colonial Office in Malaysia.

The happy couple were married at Chelsea Old Church in 1960, before renting a house in Bookham.

Mrs Heath began teaching at the Howard of Effingham School and the Leatherhead School of Music, and the couple bought their home in St John's Avenue, in Leatherhead, in March 1965.

The Heaths relocated to Beirut in 1966, after Mr Heath began working for the Diplomatic and Consular Service. When they returned to Leatherhead in 1969, Mrs Heath resumed her teaching at the Leatherhead School of Music, becoming the musical director there in 1977.

She also became an active member of both the Leatherhead Community Association and the Leatherhead and District Local History Society, of which she later became both chairman and president.

Her close friend Gwen Hoad, of the Leatherhead Community Association, said: "She was always concerned about people, especially if she thought they were lonely, and would invite them for tea or a meal. Her home was an open house."

Mrs Heath published a total of five books on the history of the town, including Of Good Report: The Story of Leatherhead Schools, in 1986, and Leatherhead in Georgian Days, in 2012. Another big part of her life was her connection with St Mary's Parish Church, for which she was a warden for three years in the 1980s.

Friend Roddy Clube, of Bookham, said: "Linda was a strong character. She was indefatigable, kindly and helpful. She was a very good friend who will be greatly missed by many people in addition to me."

Mrs Heath's brother William Carroll moved into her St John's Avenue home with her after Mr Heath passed away six years ago. "My sister Linda had a wonderfully warm and cheerful personality, and was renowned for her indefatigable fighting spirit," said Mr Carroll.

"Music and gardening were great passions but she also had a fine academic mind, as her books on Leatherhead history clearly demonstrate and, as anyone who worked with her will tell you, she was a great organiser. Linda also had strong religious beliefs and was always concerned for those less fortunate in society - she could never pass a beggar in the street without giving him or her some money. He added: "She was a dynamo of a person and will be greatly missed by her family and all who knew her."

Linda Heath: from the Parish of Leatherhead magazine, August 2013

Not many eighty or so year old widows have the church full to bursting for their funeral, but such was the feeling of the community for Linda Heath that those who could not make it to the funeral – and there were some – felt themselves impoverished that they were not there.

All this was as it should be, for Linda gave so much to Leatherhead and its life. She was not content to study and record its history: she had to share it with everybody. She wrote five booklets on different aspects of its history – on its early education and schools, on the church’s history, on its organ, and so on. She wrote a play, A Rich Inheritance, in which scenes from Leatherhead’s past are re-enacted, and which has been staged a number of times in the parish church.

As Chairman and President of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society she made sure that as many people as possible appreciated the place in which they live by acknowledging the richness of its past. Leatherhead is not just any old small market town which has seen better days: it is unique, as are them all. Think of Linda when you see the plaques dotted round the town telling passers-by of the history of various buildings.

Linda used to ring me in a slightly hesitant way, which I knew was the preamble to a request to do something – take photos, write a poster for the car pool, etc, etc. She was great at getting things moving! In the last few years I met her in Annie’s every Saturday when she brought our old friend Roddy Clube down from Bookham for coffee. She and David had known Roddy and his wife Mary in Beirut in the sixties – once you were a friend of Linda’s, it was a lifelong commitment!

No-one knew that more than her friend Gillian Womersley. They were at school together, and shared a lifelong love of music. The church has recently benefited from this connection: Gillian’s son James O’Donnell, internationally known organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey, played the inaugural concert in the parish church in 2007 on the restored 18th century Thomas Parker organ. He played at Linda’s funeral.
Alison Wright


Leatherhead Community Association
Leatherhead & District Local History Society (see Publications page)
Leatherhead Parish Church, Publications page
Thomas Parker Organ, Leatherhead Parish Church

Unless otherwise stated, photos via Linda's family
Linda's page created 9 Jul 13, last updated 13 Aug 13: 8 Feb 2018
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