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Ruth Mary Hynd

Below is the address which I gave at Ruth's funeral in January 2012

Thank you all very much for coming. I know that Ruth would have been so appreciative and loved you being here today.
As many of us remarked at Ruth’s 100th birthday celebrations, a hundred years is a very long life and a hundred and three is even longer! Ruth loved her 100th birthday and viewed it with such a sense of achievement and pride. She talked and thought about it a lot – everything from her card from the Queen to all the family and friends who came to the party.

I won’t go through again the momentous things that have happened in the course of Ruth’s life. Some of you might have enjoyed watching Downton Abbey over the holidays. It is remarkable to think that Ruth was 11 years old at Christmas 1919 when those events were set. How much the world has changed, particularly for women, during Ruth’s life.

Ruth was born in Nelson in Lancashire in 1908 – an Edwardian, which in many ways she always stayed. She was sent to Harrogate Ladies’ College with her sister, Peggie and from there to King’s College, London where in the late twenties and early thirties she studied the relatively new science of nutrition. She was one of the first three nutritionists to qualify in the country, and therefore was in the van of women in the professions.

She loved her time in London and would always relate with great joy the stories of her parents’ visits to London to see her. They would go to the latest shows during that golden age of theatre – the original production of Private Lives with Noel Coward, Gertrude Lawrence and a young Lawrence Olivier was particularly memorable.

She also began her lifelong enjoyment of watching, not just playing, tennis. She saw Fred Perry play at Wimbledon. Many of you will probably have had rather brief conversations with Ruth if you made the mistake of telephoning during the hours of play in Wimbledon fortnight. In her later years she watched every single day with Pam, her dear friend and neighbour in Childswickham.

I loved to hear her talk about the punting holiday she had taken on the Thames with a group of fellow students in the 1930s. It was a great time for all in their camping punt, complete with canvas tent and primus stove. I remember with great pleasure taking her out on my own punt on the same stretch of river about 50 years later.
In the 1930s Ruth formed another of her lifelong friendships. She began writing to and holidaying with a family in Germany. The photographs that Ruth took on those visits are truly historic – for example the old port of Konigsberg, so beautiful before the war but destroyed by the Soviet Army and rebuilt in the grim Communist style. So much did Ruth love her sojourns in Germany that her father had to make special arrangements to get her back to Britain when the outbreak of hostilities was imminent in the summer of 1939. The holidays were resumed after the war and continued until the 1990s and until the very last visit Ruth worked to improve her German.

I am sure that there are colleagues here today who know far more about Ruth’s professional life and achievements than I do. The majority of Ruth’s working life was spent in Leicester where she worked for the Local Authority’s School Meals Service. This covered not only creating the menus, but also designing the kitchens. All of this of course entailed the management of a large staff. As I said, her colleagues have far greater knowledge of that aspect of her life than I, but I always had the feeling that when working Ruth gave 110% and everything was done very effectively and efficiently. Her own sense of discipline honed by her Edwardian’s lady’s upbringing would not stand for anything less than the best professionally. She was rightly proud of the results that she achieved.

It is a great tribute to her that so many friends and colleagues from that time have stayed in touch. I must mention here Margaret – as well as their day to day friendship, they had annual dates for marmalade making and holidays. And it was Margaret who introduced Ruth to one of the dearest friends of her later life – her beautiful Siamese cat, Solomon.

As every one of you who has been a friend of Ruth’s will testify no-one could have been a more faithful or concerned friend.
Of course, the greatest love of Ruth’s life was Alec. She had known him since childhood and they were married in July 1944. They were a very happy and devoted couple. They lived in Copeland Road, Leicester sharing their enjoyment of many things such as trips on their canal boat and listening to Gilbert & Sullivan. Alec died prematurely in January 1962. A photograph of him was never far away right up until the day of her death.
Ruth continued to live in Leicester until she retired in 1973 when she moved to Childswickham. Living in Childswickham suited Ruth very well. She loved her garden, life in the village, trips to the theatre at Stratford and the new friends she made. But above all she loved being close to the family. Ruth and family were inseparable. As a child she was devoted to her mother, a devotion that lasted all her life. I loved to hear her talk with such affection and warmth about her aunts and uncles in Lancashire. That devotion and interest transferred itself to later generations – nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews. No-one’s birthday wasever forgotten, nor would anyone’s adventures and achievements go un-noticed.

Ruth had a wonderful capacity to make the most out of life – not only extracting experience, knowledge and enjoyment from the big events, but also savouring the day to day minutiae – who can forget how much she enjoyed her breakfast! Ruth observed, learned from and enjoyed all she did and all those she met – a great facility. Even as she grew less mobile, she would not moan about what she could not do, but would carry on with reinvigorated enthusiasm, those things she could do.

Ruth left you in no doubt if things were not done as she thought they should be done. Second best was something to be avoided, but if she expected high standards of behaviour in others it was because she expected even higher standards in herself.

I feel very privileged to have been able to say a few words about Ruth. Her longevity was remarkable. It gave us the opportunity to enjoy her presence for such a long time and to have a link with an age that is now passed. But the length of her life is not the most important thing – what is most important is the love with which we will remember her.

Added by: Robin Hartley on 26 November 2012.

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