Parish of Leatherhead - Jim & Caroline Williams

This page is a remembrance of Jim and Caroline for their many friends.

Dr Jim Williams

It is hoped that an appreciation of Jim which appeared in the Leatherhead Parish magazine will be placed here. If you have a copy of this please contact the Remembrance pages editor.

Caroline died in 2013.

from the Leatherhead Advertiser: source Jackie Hampton

Doctor to retire to W. Country

A Leatherhead family doctor is hanging up his stethoscope after 35 years general practice in the area. Jim Williams, of Fortyfoot Road, is 65 and has lived in the town all his life. He was born at Highlands Road and went to school at the Lindens, Downsend and Epsom College. Dr Williams then went to Cambridge University and did his medical training at St Bartholomew's where he met his future wife, Caroline, a nurse.

The doctor is a regular worshipper at the parish church and has been a member of the choir and the bellringing band for nearly 50 years. Even when he did his National Service Dr Jim remained on familiar ground. He was posted just around the corner to RAF Headley Court!

Dr Jim with the bike he has had since he was at school. It was stolen some years ago but was later recovered.

The doctor and his wife have four children. Both sons, John and Tony, have followed their father into the medical profession. Elder daughter, Jenevora, is a professional singer with the Welsh National Opera. Younger daughter Mary is at Durham University.

The doctor will be given a big send off by his patients - many of whom come from the Ashtead area - on Sunday at a special party being held at the Peace Memorial Hall.

He and his wife are moving to the West Country on retirement. Dr Williams enjoys woodwork and gardening. He has produced a number of wood guide boards for Leatherhead Parish Church.

Caroline Williams

Caroline Williams

a celebration of her life

Holy Trinity Church, Guildford
Thursday 16th May

J S Bach Adagio from Trio Sonata No.3, BWV 527
Schmücke dick O liebe Seele,
BWV 654
Largo from Trio Sonata No.2, BWV 526
Organist: Stephen Farr

Welcome by Canon Robert Cotton
Rector, Holy Trinity and St Mary's, Guildford

Hymn: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

Dear Lord and Father of mankind, Forgive our foolish ways.
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives thy service find,
In deeper reverence praise.

Prayer: Father Andrew Norman
Rector, St Nicolas', Guildford

Caroline's early years - John

Mum grew up in Chelsea before and during the Second World War.The Borough was wealthy but her family lived in a small working class pocket just South of the Kings Road. She developed the skills that sustained her through the rest of her life - she always made the best of whatever the world threw at her.

In her youngest years mum and her three brothers grew up in a flat with two rooms and an attic, an outside tap on the balcony and toilet on the staircase shared with the other tenants in the house.

She told me how her family was hit by the 1930s recession - her father had to tell them that all workers at Lotts Road Power Station had to take a pay cut to preserve their jobs, his weekly wages were cut from £3 to £2.10s - the whole family had to get by on that.

When she was old enough she often accompanied her father on the underground to tend his allotment in Harrow where he grew the vegetables that sustained the family throughout the recession and the Wartime years. As the children grew bigger they moved to a house with more space further along the same street.

During the Blitz she remembered once running home with her eldest brother Henry during an unexpected air raid. Bombs fell all around them as they ran over Putney Bridge, her brother held her hand and her feet hardly touched the ground.

The Luftwaffe bombers targeted the neighbouring Lotts Road Power Station. One time her father was frying a pan of his best tomatoes on the kitchen range when a bomb landed on a house up the road. The explosion shook their chimney and soot came down smothering his cherished allotment tomatoes in black filth. The words he shouted up at Hitler were the only time she ever heard her father swear.

The whole of Meek Street was obliterated in one explosion, her brother Henry was in bed with yellow jaundice and he too was covered in soot.

She had 3 older brothers to learn tricks from. The local Chelsea Football Ground would open its gates well before the end of a match to allow the crowd to leave, but mum and her brothers would run past the gates into the ground to watch the end of the match for free. At home they played on the street and also had the run of Battersea Park just across the river. The museums were free and they bought a penn’orth of stale cakes to last for the whole day.

She worked hard too, she gained a prestigious place at Grammar School, studied and won many prizes. Her choice of career was dictated by her desire to help others which has continued in her voluntary work throughout her life – as a teenager she considered work in a Citizens Advice Bureau or as a Social Worker.

Her interest in politics began with the Chelsea Labour Party, their meetings were held in the front room of her family’s house. For the 1945 General Election she went canvassing with Shirley Williams who also grew up nearby. It was an exciting time for her with post-war rebuilding and increasing interest in welfare. Her involvement in social issues is well-known to all of you. Her time in the Labour Party coincided with the birth of the NHS and amidst that of course she began her own Nursing Career in 1948.

She opted for the best Nursing School in London at Bart's Hospital. At that time it was posh too. At her interview with Matron she was told “You are the first gal” - not girl but “gal” - “to be considered here as Trainee Nurse to have come from a State School, our gals have always come from Public Schools but you have the best grades so you are here”. Mum believed in pushing the boundaries, she did not believe in class, just in people, and she wasn’t frightened of anyone.

Before Tony continues with mum’s story we can listen to Beth Halliday singing Somewhere, from West Side Story

Somewhere from West Side Story, Bernstein
Bethany Halliday (Vocal), Will Todd (Piano), Gareth Huw Davies (Bass)

Nursing, Midwifery and Marriage - Tony

Mum loved to say that she was a Bart's Nurse. London Teaching Hospitals were competitive in those days, Bart's more than most. The love of her profession and her pride in her training lasted throughout her life.

During her time at Bart's she met a young Medical Student called Jim Williams. Their paths crossed many times over the following years. He qualified as a doctor, she gained her Nurse Registration and she went on to get a degree in Nursing. She then trained as a midwife in Epsom.

By 1953 she was working at Sussex Maternity Hospital and was regularly visiting my father who was doing his National Service 40 miles away at the Headley Court RAF Unit near Leatherhead. She covered many miles on her bicycle, both as a District Midwife and in pursuit of my father – another sign of her ongoing determination.

When my father finished his National Service he got a job as resident Obstetric Surgeon at Bushey Maternity Hospital in Hertfordshire. Conveniently my mother too found a job there as a Midwife.

When my father was offered a Partnership in General Practice in Leatherhead the senior Partner said that he looked too young to be trusted, so to give himself an air of maturity he asked my mother to marry him which she did in October 1955. They moved out of Hospital accommodation and set up home in Ashtead.

The next big project was Mayfield, a derelict house in Leatherhead which they undertook to renovate a couple of decades before DIY became generally popular. It took years to get the house and garden cleared, demolishing walls and clearing huge rubbish tip from under the jungle of a garden.

Mum was determined to have a big family and she went through at least nine pregnancies to get the four children who you see here today. A few years after I was born a rare tumour in a twin pregnancy nearly killed her - a major operation in Bart's removed the tumour, the twins couldn’t survive but the operation saved my mother’s life. A future pregnancy carried greater risks but she went ahead anyway and the final weeks of her pregnancy with Jenevora were again spent in Bart's. That still wasn’t enough for her so after two more pregnancies we got Mary too.

Father had loved his military service and as children we enjoyed fabulous camping holidays which seemed to go without a hitch. I now understand that they cannot have been so easy for mum. When Jenevora was a baby we spent Easter camping under a canvas tent in an isolated spot in New Forest. Father and the boys enjoyed cooking fantastic fry-ups over an open fire. Meanwhile mum had to wash terry-towel nappies in a stream and we woke up with two inches of snow on the tent. She never complained in front of the children. Perhaps some of you knew how she really felt.

Hymn: Guide me o thou great redeemer

Guide me, O thou great redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty,
Hold me with thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Family times - Mary

Mum couldn’t have a career as such, that wasn’t acceptable as a GP’s wife. She desperately wanted to make a useful contribution, which she did though voluntary work. Near to where we lived was a large house called Lynwood, which was in the path of the proposed M25. She took it over for the intervening years and helped to set up and run a hostel for single mothers.

She worked for the Mount Green Housing Association and campaigned for better social housing during council-house sales of the Thatcher years. For many years she worked for the Samaritans, both as a listener and as a trainer. She travelled round the country giving talks on the work of the Samaritans. As her own children grew older, she went into the local primary school to help the children there with their reading.

As ever, she was fit and active. She and Dad cycled everywhere and encouraged us all to do the same. Family holidays were centred around the Mirror Dinghy that Dad had built in 1970. Sailing, fishing, walking and swimming – regardless of the weather of course. We remember her running down the beach in a thunderstorm to go surfing.

Sunday lunches in the dining room at Mayfield were also another big family tradition. There was always plenty of food for any number of extra mouths, no advance notice needed but guests had to put up with the unsavoury medical matters that always dominated conversation. We were always having parties and friends to stay – she just took it all in her stride and loved having a house full.

She helped John, Tony and Jebbie with major house renovations and was always prepared to doabsolutely anything we asked of her.

The one activity she did purely for her own pleasure was singing with Ashtead Choral Society. She was a member for over 30 years and absolutely loved it. She went on many tours of Europe with the choir and made deep and lasting friendships.

In 1992 Dad retired from General Practice. He was exhausted and ready for a proper rest. They had so many plans for their new life together, possibly moving to the West Country. However, only a week after the retirement party Mum and Dad were in a horrific head-on collision just outside Hereford. Dad was killed instantly and Mum had serious head injuries. As she was waiting to be cut free from the wreckage she contemplated going with Dad, she was drifting out of consciousness and could have easily given up the struggle. She told us later that one of the reasons she didn’t give up was the thought of the enormous quantity of stuff stored in the attic – all needing to be sorted. There was still work to do.

Choir: The Lord Bless you and Keep you, Rutter
Conducted by Will Todd

A new life - Jenevora
(with a contribution from Rod Boreham: Guildford Town Centre Chaplain)

Mum had to rebuild her life following the car crash. She directed the energy from her grief and frustration into charity work. She travelled all over the country giving talks for Roadpeace, supporting other victims of road crashes and campaigning for safer roads. She moved into a more reasonably sized house in Leatherhead; unfortunately, much of the troublesome contents of the attic managed to follow her into each new house (we are still sifting through some of it now).

Adding to her busy life came the best gifts she could have wanted – eleven grandchildren. From 1991 to 2006: Katy, Jamie, Harry, Beth, Lily, Rose, Heather, Cerys, Charlie, Jim and Tim. They became the focus of her life, she journeyed the length and breadth of the country to visit them all as often as she could. All by train of course, as she could no longer drive. Her visits were always active: if she couldn’t redecorate a room, she would clean out cupboards or cut back brambles.

In 2006 she moved from Leatherhead to Guildford. Not far to move – she was still able to get the train to Ashtead every Monday night for her choir practice.

To tell the truth, I wanted her to be just round the corner – she was too useful to lose out on.

Now she had another project – turning a rather dilapidated 2-up, 2-down cottage into a gorgeous house with an airy extension, a roomy basement, underfloor heating, solar panels and an ensuite bathroom.

She threw herself into community activities once more, joining not just one church choir at St Nicholas’, but also St Mary’s.

One of her first ventures was to invite everyone in the road to a house-warming party. This single event helped to create many lasting friendships in Millmead Terrace.

She was still fit and healthy; looking at her particular skills: determination, kindness, quick-witted responses in tricky situations, an inability to be shocked by anything, and an overriding desire to help other people – the obvious choice was to become a Street Angel.

Recall of what Rod Boreham of Guildford Town Centre Chaplaincy said:
- Caroline was the oldest of their volunteers, out on the streets with the night population of the town
- when approached by the press to provide volunteers for them to feature, the reporter and photographer homed in on Caroline
- on the streets she had the reputation of being everyone's favourite granny
- in one particular incident the police arrived, saw Caroline was dealing with a troubled youngster, and decided she was doing a great job.

by permission of Guildford Town Centre Chaplaincy

Jenevora continued ..

Mum continued to have a sense of adventure. The night of her 80th birthday was spent with the family staying in Tanners Hatch – a youth hostel with an outside toilet and no vehicular access. Her dogged determination continued – even when she was ill and could only shuffle into town with her three-wheeler trolley, she still managed to get as far as Robert Dyas, buy a convection heater, get them to tie it to the trolley so she could wheel it home. She had to be independent.

As her illness progressed she was a model patient, her nurses and carers all loved her because she was so cheery and uncomplaining. The extended family came to stay as often as they could. She so loved having everyone around so much that she threatened to stay alive for another couple of years. In fact, one of the last coherent statements she made was “you all think I’m going to die tomorrow – well I’m not!”

Caroline Williams lives on in her eleven grandchildren. All have a useful combination of academic and practical skills, and all are caring and nurturing. The most noticeable common trait is that all eleven are argumentative, outspoken and absolutely determined.


Prayers: Canon David Eaton,
past Vicar of St Mary and St Nicholas, Leatherhead

God our Father, we thank you that you have made each of us in your own image, and given us gifts and talents with which to serve you.
We thank you for Caroline, the years we shared with her, the good we saw in her, the love we received from her.
Now give us strength and courage to leave her in your care, confident in your promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding, surround Caroline's family with your love, that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your goodness and strength to meet the days to come.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Grant us, Lord, the wisdom and the grace to use aright the time that is left to us on earth.
Lead us to repent of our sins, the evil we have done and the good we have not done; and strengthen us to follow the steps of your Son, in the way that leads to the fullness of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that 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: Be thou my vision

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.



At tables around the church with sheets of paper, please leave your name and a message on one of these.
Our thanks go to all who have made this celebration possible: in particular, Robert Cotton and all at Holy Trinity; to Will Todd, Stephen Farr and Beth Halliday for their musical input; and to Sara Scott for organising the refreshments. We would also like to thank David Eaton for conducting the burial service this morning and to Father Andrew Norman for his ministry to Caroline in the last few years. Donations to The Samaritans will be welcome online at or by post to: J Monk and Sons, 70 Woodbridge Road, Guildford GU1 4RD

...and a final word from the grandchildren

Tim (6) - "When I was five Nana took me on the bus to Pembroke Castle and climbed up lots and lots of stairs"
Jim (8) - "Nana climbed over the school gate in the evening to find my lost shoe in the playground"
Charlie (9) - "She always made us eat up all of our food"
Cerys (10) - "Nana cut the tops off all the recycling bags in our road before they got collected, and knitted them into a bag for my swimming kit"
Heather (11) - "Nana came with us to Wicksteed Park"
Rose (12) - "And she took us to play on the Straw Bales"
Lily (14) - "Nana loved using complex words and then explaining what they meant"
Beth (18) - "I remember Nana teaching me to sew and making endless lavender bags after walks to the pond in Leatherhead"
Harry (19) - "We used to walk down to the pond and feed the ducks, I once fell in and caught a tadpole in my welly"
Jamie (20) - "Despite Nana being a vegetarian she never passed up the opportunity to eat a leftover sausage "
Katy (22) - "I remember Nana's biscuit tin, home-made tango, plenty of custard and blackberry-picking with her every year"


from the Parish of Leatherhead Magazine June 2013
Caroline Williams 1930 – 2013

Although she had lived in Guildford for the last seven years many of the congregation and community remember Caroline Williams with great affection and respect.

Caroline grew up in Chelsea. She trained in nursing at Bart's, where she and Jim first met. She and Dr Jim married in 1955 and set up house in Ashtead. Later they moved to Mayfield in Fortyfoot Road. She was determined to have a large family, and it took nine sometimes hazardous pregnancies to produce John, Tony, Jenevora, and Mary. The whole family were much involved in both church and community life.

Caroline worked in a voluntary capacity for the Mount Green Housing Association, and campaigned for better social housing during the council house sales of the Thatcher years. She worked for the Samaritans both as listener and trainer, and travelled round the country giving talks on their behalf.

Caroline sang for many years with the Ashtead Choral Society, went abroad on their tours, and carried on going to rehearsals even after she had moved to Guildford.

In 1992 Dr Jim Williams retired from general practice. Less than a fortnight later he was killed in a car accident, and she was very badly injured. It took a long time to recover, but she coped with this grief and trauma with dignity and fortitude, and turned the experience into a tireless fight for greater safety on the roads and support for victims through the charity Roadpeace.

In later years in Guildford she showed her concern for people, her determination, and her refusal to be ruffled in any situation, by becoming a Street Angel, going out on the streets with a companion to seek out people in distress, in need of help or a comforting word.

The world has been a better place with Caroline in it, and she leaves as a great legacy her four children and eleven grandchildren, whose lives will have received an indelible imprint for having had her in their lives.
Alison Wright

Page created 17 May 13: last updated 9 Aug 13
If you would like to add to this page please contact the Remembrance pages editor
With thanks to the family, those who took part in Caroline's service of thanksgiving, and others who have contributed to this page.
For remembrance of some of Jim & Caroline's old friends from their time in Leatherhead, see Remembrance