Parish of Leatherhead - Edith and Warner Wright

Edith 2015  Warner 2011

Edith Wright

St. Mary and St Nicholas Church with All Saints

A Service of Celebration
for the Life of


23rd May 1922 - 26th May 2015

Friday, 26th June 2015

Order of Service

Conducted by Reverend Graham Osborne Organist: Gina Eason

The Sanctus from Faure's Requiem



Love divine, all loves excelling

John 14: 1-6 & 27

Morning has broken like the first morning


by Michael Wright & Natasha Wright, delivered by Michael:

Edith had a wonderful 93 years on earth and was a friend to everyone she met. I thought that you might like to hear something of her life.

Our Edith was born on 23rd May 1922 in Camberwell, London, and was the daughter of Augustus, known as Gus, and Maude Yolande Janes.

Edith was the middle daughter, Elsie being her elder sister and Doris her younger sibling. Edith always claimed that she was shy as a youngster, and surprisingly says that she was described as being a bit "dizzy". Edith certainly bonded well with her Mother, Father and sisters. Edith used to recall the thrill of having a pillion ride on the back of Elsie’s boyfriend’s motorbike.

Gus was a manager in the GPO, or General Post Office so they had a secure upbringing during the Great Depression years.
Indeed the three girls had great fun growing up in London, with Edith recalling fondly that often her Mother would spontaneously come into her bedroom, saying that "it was a lovely day, so let’s take the excursion train to Littlehampton or Bognor."

Edith's Nursing Training started at the age of 18 years and she loved every moment of it. Edith felt that nursing was a calling from God.
Edith enjoyed nursing and soon became a Staff Nurse and then a Deputy Sister in Theatre, followed by Edith becoming a midwife in wartime south London, reminiscent of the television programme Call the Midwife.
During all this time she was having a romance with Warner, and when he was given embarkation leave they got married with a special licence, which was quite normal in those difficult times.

It was a few years later that Warner’s actual embarkation took place, and, I am proud to say, that it appears from the records that Warner landed in France on D-Day+2, some two weeks before it was safe enough for General De Gaulle to set foot in his home country!

Edith once said that if she had not married she would have liked to have gone with her friend during the war to Singapore; I pointed out that unlike her friend, she would have not left the patients and fled on the last boat to leave Singapore, but would have stayed to look after them and likely would have ended up in Changi Prison, the source of another television programme.

After the war they lived briefly in Jersey and then moved back to London, where I was born on April 15. As my parents were married on 12 April I recall asking if this was a 'just in time' marriage, but I was assured to hear that it was some five years earlier!

Then Edith and Warner bought a house in Westcliffe-on-Sea, which Edith ran as a Bed and Breakfast and then, using her nursing training, as a nursing home, while Warner commuted to London.

The money which they managed to save during this period allowed them to buy a detached house in Stoneleigh, as Edith had always wanted a family and this allowed them to achieve that, but what a surprise when Edith announced that she was going to have twins, Ian and Jackie. There had been no twins in the family before, but Ian carried on the tradition by having his own twins, Matt and Vicky, again following a single child, Katy.
Many happy years were spent in Stoneleigh where Edith picked her nursing career up again working part time at Ewell Park Hospital in order to fund my school fees, for which I am eternally grateful. When I would thank her for this she would modestly reply that she should thank me as it spurred her on to train as a Health Visitor. This was something she had long wanted to be and her affinity to this career choice was remarkable, as many of what she called “her Mothers” have testified.

Whilst she started work in Ewell, when the family moved to Leatherhead she transferred to the surgery of Dr. Meynen & Dr. Birtwhistle and she always said that these were her happiest years. Edith was forced to retire due to her age at 60, but somehow Edith managed to be re-employed in the same practice and went on working until about 68.

Not content with a demanding day job, in her 50s Edith took up playing the piano and she also joined the Ashtead Choral Society, who we are delighted have joined us today and considerably enhanced the event.

Edith loved not only the singing, but also the social life that came with the Ashtead Choral Society, in particular the trips abroad, accompanied by Warner, singing at various wonderful locations across Europe.

Edith also went on to study a City & Guilds Teaching Course but sadly was unable to put this to use as they said that at over 70 she could not be considered for a post.

Not deterred, Edith applied for and undertook work for the Open University, which she carried on doing well into her 80s!"When she retired Edith was not one to go in to the slow lane, oh no, this was the time to embark on a degree course with the Open University achieving a BA and BSc in Psychology.

Edith's graduation photograph
The whole Wright family, taken at Edith's graduation in 1995.
Ian, Michael, Edith, Jackie and Warner.

Jo Edith Katy Vicky
Edith at her Grandson's wedding on 1st September 2012. In the picture Jo (girlfriend of her late grandson Stephen Kelsey), Edith, Katy and Vicky (Edith's granddaughters and daughters of her son Ian). Andrew and Lana were the first grandchildren to get married in the Wright family. Sadly, Edith missed seeing her granddaughter Vicky get married (July 2015) and Matt (January 2016).

Moyra (Edith's daughter-in-law), Edith and Jackie (Edith's daughter) taken at a family get-together at The Preston Cross Bookham. The family met at least once a year at The Preston Cross.

Edith was blessed with grand children and was lucky enough to see one of them, Andy, married and produce a great grandchild - Elsa!
Edith with her daughter Jackie. Edith is holding
her great grandchild Elsa born in 2013
Edith loved watching Elsa develop
edith gd
Edith with her three granddaughters - in order Katy, Vicky and Natasha.

At St. Mary & St. Nicholas with all Saints, Edith was involved in the crêche on a Sunday, moving on to become the first lady Churchwarden as well as taking on other roles including Parish Visitor, Child Protection Co-ordinator, Sideslady, taking Communion to the house bound, running the Bereavement Coffee Morning and helping with the church flowers.

Warner & Edith thoroughly enjoyed their life in Leatherhead and in particular their association with this Church and all the friends they made during those years.

Some of the remembrances which friends have kindly supplied say of Edith:

"Wonderful Health Visitor" - "Full of compassion" - "Grasped the situation in an instant" - "Efficient and so kind" - "Learnt a lot from her" - "So smart" - "Edith and Warner were very special people." - "I don’t know where she found the energy" - "So loved for all the loving help she gave."

One story is of Edith skidding on her bottom down a steep drive covered in snow with the scales in one hand and bag in the other to weigh a baby calling out that it was the only way to get through.

In conclusion, we all admire what could be called Edith’s 'Dunkirk Spirit', and yet, Dunkirk was about withdrawal, whilst Edith can more readily be said to have had the 'D-Day Spirit', that once she set her mind to anything then she charged ahead and nothing got in her way.

Edith and Warner will be loved and missed for a long, long time.

Edith’s life is encapsulated in her final words: “Hasn’t it been fun.”

Thank You.

ending with 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, Amen.

Ashtead Choral will sing
God so loved the World from Stainer's Crucifixion

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide


by Ashtead Choral singing God be in my head by Walford Davies


The Committal follows at Randalls Park Crematorium

Edith's family wish to thank Graham Osborne for conducting her service.
Also special thanks to the members of Ashtead Choral Society for attending
today and giving their time to make the service so special.
Thanks also to the kindness of the ladies who decorated the Church with the beautiful
flower arrangements which they donated in memory of their friend Edith.

You are warmly invited to the Church Hall for refreshments where the family
will join you after the committal at Randalls Park Crematorium.
Donations if wished, to Cancer Research or Princess Alice Hospice, Esher.
Either as you leave or sent to Hawkins & Sons Funeral Directors, Highlands Road, Leatherhead KT22 8ND.

more photos from the family albums

additional tributes

Warner Wright


A Service of Celebration for the Life of


8th June 1917 - 27th September 2011

Thursday 20th October 2011

Order of Service

Jointly conducted by Revd. Graham Osborne and Canon David Eaton
Organist Peter Holt

Adagio Sonata No. 1 .. Mendelssohn



HYMN: Love divine, all loves excelling

Kate Wright
Remembering a Life Well Lived

Some people just can't help
Making a difference in our lives
By simply being whom they are
They make the world a little brighter
A little warmer
A little gentler
And when they are gone
We realise how lucky we are
To have had our Gramps
The world has lost a very special person.

John 14: 1-6, 27
read by David Eaton

by Vicky & Matt Wright
Gramps, you were just a lad so many years ago.
You had your loves and had your dreams,
you watched us come and go.

We haven't always thought about
the things that you have seen.
To us you've just been Gramps
no thought of all your strings.

But we remember now in love
your life from start to end.
We're very glad we knew you
as Gramps, and as a friend.

HYMN (Crimond): The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want,

David Eaton

Warner was has lived to a great age. His life began during the First World War. If you have been glued to Downton Abbey on recent Sunday evenings you will appreciate just how different life was when he came into the world. There was a much more rigid social order, and religious faith played a still significant part in daily living for many people.

One of these was Warner’s mother who was a member of the Salvation Army, still at that stage something of a radical revivalist religion. It meant that at home they kept the Sabbath, so that Sundays were very different days from the rest of the week. They had the Sunday roast on Saturday and Sunday was a complete day of rest.

All this left its mark on the young Warner as he grew up in New Cross. He was throughout his life a man of faith and high principle. Interestingly even with Warner, an only child, there seems to have been some kind of healthy teenage rebellion. Whereas Mum was Low Church, Warner’s taste was for the colour and ceremony of Anglo-Catholicism, a stark contrast.

Warner with his mother
Warner had the music gene and because of this he attended the London Choir School. He was recommended by his violin tutor. The Choir School suited him very well. It seems to have operated a kind of rent-a-choir arrangement.

Warner remembered singing at some of the most prestigious of London Churches: St Stephen’s Gloucester Road, Holy Trinity Brompton - a bit different in those days I imagine - The Guards Chapel, St Paul’s Cathedral, St Martin-in-the-Fields amongst them.

Warner in school uniform

Warner the young chorister

When Warner started work it was accountancy which he took up and trained for. He worked in the City and for much of his life with Laken & Auria who were in the travel and theatre business.

Edith lived in Dulwich close by to New Cross. She caught Warner’s eye. He followed her home. But it’s not what you might think; all was above board. He was, says Edith, very much a gentleman, which you could tell because he carried a rolled umbrella and wore yellow gloves. At the time Edith was only 16 ... so that all those child bride stories are true.

Warner had a tandem, although I don’t think he wore Lycra. For whatever reason Edith was never to ride on a bicycle made for two, nor did she dream they would ever get married. But married they were at St Barnabas Dulwich at a date unspecified, says Edith, or we will all think she is ancient, which clearly just isn’t the case.

Though Edith has three stripes up, the family have no record of her being in the Services

It had been a whirlwind romance. He swept her off her feet, who would have thought it, but there was a war on and Warner had been called up, so things needed to be sorted out in a hurry. Edith was training as a nurse at the time. Because it was wartime Warner actually proposed by telegram, which he sent on one knee.

In the war Warner served in the Royal Corps of Signals as a Sergeant and was attached to The Scottish Horse Artillery.

He went into Normandy on D-Day +1 and also served in Belgium and Holland ending the war in Hamburg.

Warner with a Dutch family WW2

Warner Wright WW2
To begin with in married life Warner and Edith lived with Warner’s parents but after a while they were able to move to their own property at Stoneleigh.

They were very happy there and it was there that their family was born: Michael and twins Ian and Jackie, with now seven grandchildren: Nicholas and Natasha, Katie and twins Vicky and Matthew, Andrew and Stephen.

It was there too that Edith became a 'choir widow'. Martyn Farrant, later Vicar of St Martin’s in Dorking, was then the Vicar of Stoneleigh. There was an active choir which included some memorable choir holidays and choir tours where Edith got on board as the Nurse ... so if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.

Edith and Warner with Andrew 7 wks
In 1973 Warner and Edith and family moved to Leatherhead and bought the house Mike and Molly Lewis had on the market at an unrepeatable price. On their first Sunday in church here Warner said to Edith “I won’t join the choir, I’ll sit with you”, which he did - for one Sunday.

So Edith was back to being a choir widow, but the choir had found the loyalest of members, who could always be relied upon to turn up and sing his heart out.

Warner leads the choir
My special memory of Warner with the choir is in his role as Crucifer.

On Palm Sunday he would tie palms to the cross with red ribbon and his wartime service came to the fore. Upright and determined he headed up the aisle like he was carrying the Regimental Colours into battle, with their honours proudly displayed.

A true soldier of Christ.

900th Anniversary of Leatherhead Parish Church: Crucifer Warner leads the way
The choir wasn’t of course Warner’s only input into church life. He was a staunch member of The Friends and with other stalwarts he helped to raise much valued funds. He also took a hands-on approach to the upkeep of the churchyard.

Those were the days when The Friends cut the grass themselves, and cut back the brambles, and Warner was always in the forefront of the working parties they organised.

With Horace Wright and David Heath alongside there was a distinct military air to proceedings, as strimmers advanced in line across the churchyard. Practical Christianity.

Presentation to Warner from Horace Wright
on Warner's retirement from the Friends' Committee

Mole Valley Show 1986: Parish Church/Friends stand
L-R Jack Stuttard - Ruth Spiers - David Saunders - Horace Wright - Warner Wright - Sandy Morris

Warner also had a big hand in running the Parish Church Hall as treasurer and for many years worked alongside Shelia Sutherland. They made a formidable duo. It can probably be said Warner took more of a George Osborne than Ed Balls approach to Hall finance. He wasn’t always that keen to tell you how much they had got, and even less keen about spending it. But for that very reason he did a good job as treasurer and the Hall remained not only solvent but in good order too. He knew: 'where your treasure is there will your heart be also'.

Warner also served as Churchwarden and his gentle good-humoured style made for good relations and the willing support of the congregation. For some he became a father-figure.

Warner has lived to see the other side of ninety. Had you been a betting man when Warner was in his forties, you could have received extremely long odds on his reaching his tenth decade. His health was at times mixed. But Warner set a steady course and undeterred kept going, resolute and faithful, not least because he was wonderfully supported by his family, and most especially by Edith.

Edith and Warner relaxing at home

This has been particularly true over the last four years. Warner has suffered from dementia but been lovingly cared for by Edith. To see them together was to be reminded of young love in all its tenderness. I was touched to hear from Edith that these last years, in their way, drew out more of the real Warner. He was somehow able to relax more, and had lost any inhibitions that may have constrained him in earlier life.

Warner and Edith: Christmas with the Kelseys

He said to her “Do you love me as much as I love you” and towards the end he said “There are not many people as happy as you and I” and kissed her hand.

Tributes received include:
He always had a smile and a friendly word
We always admired his determination as a poppy seller each year in the town
Happy memories of singing together in choir festivals and running the choir stall at the Autumn market
A wonderful gentleman
A tireless worker to promote the smooth running of the church
I will miss Warner’s impish smile and the lovely story he told of Edith losing him in the supermarket.
We loved him very much

So there is not much doubt that we can with confidence commit Warner to God’s safe keeping today. He will be received gladly into heaven where Jesus has gone before to prepare a place for him.

Warner was a true disciple. I don’t suppose he was perfect, but that’s the point you don’t need to be, because God’s love reaches out to embrace us all even when our track record isn’t as good as Warner’s. But when it is we may also celebrate and give thanks to God, with hats in the air, for the person we have known and rejoice to have shared life with him.

So gentlemen, don’t forget, if you wish to win the heart of a lady - carry a rolled umbrella and wear yellow gloves.

ending with 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. Amen.

HYMN: Abide with me; fast falls the eventide

by Stephen Kelsey

God looked around his garden
and he found an empty place.
And then he looked down upon the earth
and saw your tired face.
He put his arms around you
and lifted you to rest.
God's garden must be beautiful,
he always takes the best.
He knew that you were suffering,
he knew you were in pain.
He knew that you would never
get well on earth again.
He saw the road was getting rough,
and the hills were hard to climb.
So he closed your weary eyelids,
and whispered "Peace be thine."
It broke our hearts to lose you,
but you didn't go alone.
For part of us went with you,
the day God called you home.


Nimrod .. Elgar


The Committal follows at Randalls Park Crematorium.

You are warmly invited to the Church Hall
for refreshments where the family and close friends
will join you after the Committal at Randalls Park Crematorium.
Donations if wished to
Cancer Research or Princess Alice Hospice, Esher,
as you leave or sent to Hawkins & Sons Funeral Directors,
Highlands Road, Leatherhead KT22 8ND.

Edith 2015

Some more photos from the family albums

Family outing to the seaside

The Wright family and friends on the beach

Michael, Warner and Ian

Warner and Edith's 45th wedding anniversary

At Jackie and Nick's wedding

Sandy Morris - the bridal group about to enter,
Jackie and Nick's wedding at Leatherhead Parish Church

Jackie and Nick's wedding at Leatherhead Parish Church


Warner Wright – A Tribute : from the November 2011 Parish magazine

I know precisely when I first met Warner Wright: it was in 1973 and he and Edith had just bought from us our first house in Leatherhead at 2 Mayell Close. Fortunately our sale and purchase negotiations had been amicable, and as Edith will confirm we left the house in a clean and tidy condition! I say fortunately, because in the event our joint involvement in Church and other activities meant that we were destined to see a lot of each other in the ensuing years!

Before coming to Leatherhead, Warner had been a Church member and chorister at Stoneleigh. On moving to Leatherhead Warner promised Edith that he would sit with her in church rather than in the choir stalls. It was a promise that lasted all of one Sunday! Warner joined the choir and was an active and loyal member for 23 years, at which time his vocal chords began to deteriorate. He seldom missed a practice let alone a service, and for many years was the choir’s crucifer. This was the start of what was to become a very big involvement in church affairs at St. Mary and St. Nicholas.

Warner’s financial background led to his being invited with the late Bob Brixey to check and bank every Monday morning, the Sunday collections, and he was treasurer of the church hall committee for 20 years. In the latter role he was extremely adept and keen at getting money in, and very protective then of the funds for which he felt very responsible. He looked upon the hall fund income as being primarily for the purpose of benefitting and maintaining facilities at the hall, and the case for funds to be diverted to other church activities, as frequently happened, had to be a convincing one!

Other duties undertaken by Warner included those of Churchwarden, Committee member of The Friends, and a member of the car rota scheme which transported people to and from church. He also spent a great deal of time helping to keep the churchyard in good condition and one retains fond memories of seeing Warner and the late David Heath, with wheelbarrows and a variety of gardening tools at the ready.

Warner was a well known figure in Leatherhead itself, walking into the town every morning in order to collect his morning paper and for over 20 years, selling, on the specially appointed day, Remembrance Day poppies. In World War II, Warner had served as a sergeant with the Royal Corps of Signals attached to the 79th Scottish Horse Regiment, a regiment closely associated with the Royal Artillery. He landed in France just after D Day in June 1944 and saw active service in France, Holland and Germany. When selling poppies near Cradlers shop in the High Street, Warner always wore his Regimental beret and the positive reaction to this was reflected in the generous donations in his collection can.

Warner Wright made a major contribution to the life and work of St. Mary and St Nicholas Church. He was much loved and respected, and we will all miss him very much indeed.
Mike Lewis

I would like to share my Faith with you - from the December 2011 Parish Magazine

I would like to share my Faith with you, how it became even stronger in the last four and a half years while caring for dear Warner. I wanted to care for Warner in our own home until the Lord called Warner Home. Without my Faith in the dear Lord and all your Prayers I could never have achieved this.

As you know, Warner did not always know me - I had many hats. With time and God's help I was able to accept this, sometimes we even had a little laugh over this. I always felt a wonderful sense that the Lord was with me day and night, he helped me to get through difficult periods, the Lord gave me such patience and a wonderful sense of humour. The odd time I did feel sad, I could open my heart to the Lord how I felt. Somehow he brought me back to remember all my blessings. The great thing Warner was happy. Warner used to say to me "I do hope that you are as happy as I am" I thanked the Lord for this.

The day before the Lord called Warner home I was holding Warner's hand and he brought my hand to his lips and kissed it three times. I really felt that he knew I was his wife. I did get on my knees and thanked the Lord. I had prayed to the Lord that I could accept Warner not knowing me but before the Lord took him please may Warner know that I am his wife and he did.

I would not have missed these last years caring for Warner. I could not have done this but for the Lord giving me Strength a supportive Family, your Prayers, the way you kindly spoke to him when Warner came to Church. When he was unable to come to Church you would enquire of him. When I went home and told him his face would light up. Warner loved his Church. The Lord also gave me a very special friend that was always there and a Friend’s flat where the odd time I could catch up with my sleep.

If anybody is climbing on the Faith Ladder go on climbing, Faith is a wonderful you are never alone, the Lord is always by you side. The Lord has also given me a very supportive loving Family.
Edith Wright

The Role of a Parish Visitor - from the October 2013 Parish Magazine

I am a Parish Visitor. I was commissioned as a Parish Visitor in 1994 by David Eaton, our previous Priest.

Before this I had been a Churchwarden, and I had worked as a Health Visitor. As a Health Visitor, except for an hour in the morning and evening when people phoned us for help or advice, we would be visiting: we visited from birth to the grave. Visiting was the most important part of my job, especially if it was to a mother with a new baby and family. I enjoyed every minute of my work, and I have so enjoyed serving God in being a Parish Visitor.

In my Job Description as a Parish Visitor the objective was to be the Lord's Ambassador; I also felt I was the Vicar's Ambassador and now I feel I am the Rector's Ambassador. Two years on from being commissioned the Curate was moving on which meant that for a while the Vicar would be the only priest, and the Curate said that he would train Sheila Reynolds, who is a Pastoral Assistant, and me to take Holy Communion to the sick. (Pastoral Assistants and Parish Visitors work closely together.)

Through the Vicar the Lord called me to have this wonderful role in the Church, and my Spiritual Faith has so blossomed.

The Pastoral Assistants and I try each Sunday to notice if a parishioner who regularly attends is not in Church: if you notice that someone has not been in Church we would appreciate if you would mention it to us.

Finally, I do recommend the Prayer Group: I am a fairly new member, and I am a great believer in Prayer. You can speak to the Dear Lord any time of the day or night - he is always there to listen to you. The Prayer Group is personal and it is prayers for the Church Family which brings us closer together.

Edith Wright, Parish Visitor

Edith - from the August 2015 Parish Magazine, by Alison Wright

Edith Wright’s final words, at the age of 93, were “Hasn’t it been fun?”  a fitting comment on a life spent serving and encouraging everyone she met. 

Edith was born in Camberwell, and she and Warner married during the war.  They brought up their family in Stoneleigh, and then moved to Leatherhead, where she worked as a Health Visitor.

I most remember her for her compassion, positive outlook, her encouragement, and the way that God was always at the forefront of her life – she was always firing off “arrow prayers” to Him in any situation!

After serving as one of the first lady churchwardens, she created roles where her talents could be used to greatest effect.  She became a Parish Visitor, and started up regular coffee mornings for the bereaved. She and Sheila Reynolds offered prayers for blessing and healing during evening communion once a month, and she took Holy Communion to the housebound.  She was Child Protection Co-ordinator, not because she wanted the job, but because someone had to do it!

Apart from all this, and caring for Warner, she gained a BA and BSc in Psychology from the Open University and a teaching qualification after her retirement, and sang with the Ashtead Choral Society., and sang with the Ashtead Choral Society.  She was one of the most smartly dressed in the congregation, and, while we were decorating the church for Easter, would urge all the flower arrangers to wear their Easter bonnets next day!  How could life not be fun with such an attitude.

I last saw Edith when I was in Epsom Hospital for a night in March, and was delighted to find her in the bed opposite. She was asleep a lot of the time, but when awake she did nothing but thank the nurses for the care they took of her.  Typical.

images unless otherwise stated are via the Wright family: if you have more photos of Warner or further remembrance to add, please contact Frank Haslam, the editor of these pages.

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page created 22 Oct 11: updated 23 Jul 15