We were saddened to hear of the death of Cllr Jeanette Halliday, sometime Chair of Twinning as a Member of Abingdon Town Council, on 17th April at the age of 71.
We were saddened to hear of the death of our member Maurice Armstrong on February 22nd at the age of 96. Until his recent decline in health, Maurice and his wife Felice were two of our most regular members, both at our evening meetings and on our visits to the twinned towns. A D-Day Veteran, Maurice was very welcome in Argentan and Sint-Niklaas and developed good friendships in both towns. As his funeral was held under current restrictions, his friends and colleagues were sadly unable to say their farewells. We send all our sympathies to Felice and to his family.
John P J Smith
14 November 1943 - 2 February 2020
John made an enormous contribution to the Twin Towns Society, as a member from 1998 and later Secretary, not only to the society also to the promotion of friendship and cooperation across the five of our Twin Towns. Twinning was only one of the groups that John enthusiastically joined and often helped to organise. These ranged from Scottish Country Dancing, cricket and rugby to golf, shooting, Tai Chi, U3A and bowls. He also contributed to his daughters’ school’s PTA, Duke of Edinburgh Award and the Young Enterprise Programme. At heart, however John was most committed to his family, Celia, Helen and Karen and their families in this country and in New Zealand.
John was born in November 1943 in Hillingdon. His initial ambition was to be a pilot but on leaving school he took up employment with the Central Electricity Generating Board. He received a prize for the best student of the year from the IMechE (Institute of Mechanical Engineers). He spent the whole of his career in the electricity generating industry working on, amongst many other projects, Didcot Power Station. He transferred to the National Grid when the industry was privatised and worked for them until he took early retirement.
John and Celia married in 1973. Helen told us that John went to the doctors a few days before the wedding and was told to go to a bed for a week. When he pointed out he was getting married the doctor wished him good luck and gave him a prescription. He often said he was married under the influence of drugs! Karen was born in 1976 and Helen in 1980. The year Karen was born John had a bad bicycle accident where he broke 12-13 ribs whilst riding his 11 plus bike. Helen and Karen are now both married. Helen is living in Banbury with Daniel and Karen in Christchurch New Zealand with Mark and the two grandchildren, Emily and William. John and Celia regularly visited New Zealand which John came to love – he was even known to support the Kiwis when they played England.
John was always fully and enthusiastically involved with twinning activities. As well as very efficiently carrying out the duties of Honorary Secretary, John helped to organise most events, including evening meetings, twinning weekends and language weeks. He demonstrated Scottish Country Dancing for our twinning colleagues in Abingdon and memorably in Argentan. Celia and he made many friends in all the Twin Towns. They hosted visitors from all the towns and stayed with families in them all. John organised a memorable visit to Schongau and was hoping to lead the visit we plan to make there later this year. He was always pleased to share his interest in wine with his friends in Europe and New Zealand. He joined Celia in several Church Twinning events.
Staying fit, John was able to pursue his many interests to the full right up until the end of his life. He and Celia spent a very happy Christmas and New Year with all their family before they headed back home via Australia. It is very sad but perhaps appropriate for such an active man that he died suddenly walking in the Blue Mountains. Let us all raise a glass to someone who did so much and will be irreplaceable.
Rosemary and Ian Jardine
Ivo Stanley Ponting (Stan)
6 June 1941 - 25 January 2020
Stan was a long-time member, committee member and Newsletter editor of ADTTS. Some memories:
Eleven of us from Twinning including Maria Curto from Lucca, gathered together on a cold February afternoon along with a huge crowd of friends and family to say goodbye to our good friend Stan.
The service was led by a former Army Chaplain Alan Wallis and much of the service centred around Stan’s time in the Army with the 11th Hussars.
Stan was born and brought up in Radley the younger brother to Jean, a very active member of Twinning. In 1959 he joined the 11th Hussars and1960 found him in Omagh, Northern Ireland, where he served for 12 months, the first of several postings to that troubled part of the country.
About ten years ago I organised a trip to Northern Ireland and Howard, Nikki and I have very strong memories of Stan and Tim Oates telling stories of their times in the province flying helicopters. One of my brightest memories was standing with Stan and Tim on the Derry walls, looking at the countryside beyond and being told that the hill we were looking at was ‘The Green Hill Far Away’, the inspiration for Cecil Frances Alexander’s wonderful hymn.
Stan served in many places including Aden, Belize and several tours of duty in West Germany. His two sons were born in Hannover. At one stage Stan was batman to Prince Michael of Kent. He retired from the Army in 1977 and moved with his family to a new house in Grove. He had trained as a mechanic and had worked on Centurion tanks, so driving anywhere and in anything held no fear for him.
We were to appreciate Stan’s love of driving later in his life when, encouraged by his sister Jean and brother in law Ken, he joined ADTTS. Not for Stan an easy coach ride to Sint-Niklaas. Instead he would set off, often to drive to all five Twin Towns. Ingrid Schupp remembers closing her bookshop one afternoon in Schongau and finding Stan in the doorway, case in hand, having driven straight from Abingdon.
Michael Matthews remembers a trip he did in 2000 with Stan and Jean. Stan had been working the night before they set off on a Twinning trip and, although the others offered to drive, he declined and drove the whole way to Colmar. They stayed for a few days before going on to Schongau and went to the Passion Play at Oberammergau. From there they drove back to Abingdon via Sint-Niklaas. At each stop Stan had friends to stay with.
Howard also remembers twice going to the book festival in Colmar with Stan. Again, Stan insisted on driving and they would travel overnight, but each time via Luxembourg, ‘because the petrol’s cheaper’. Last year when Howard and I drove a campervan from a factory on the Czech border to Edinburgh, Howard insisted that we, too, stop for petrol in Luxembourg and he recounted happy memories of his time with Stan.
At the funeral Alan Wallis talked about the sun always shining somewhere. My memory of Stan is that whenever you were with him the sun was shining. It always felt that way.
He will be fondly remembered and missed by many of us in Abingdon and our twin towns.
Air Commodore L.G.P. Martin
Bob passed away on 31st July three days after his 98th birthday. Bob first came to Abingdon as OC of RAF Abingdon in the late 1960’s. After postings in the Middle East he finished his career with the posting as Air Attaché in Bonn in the still-divided Germany. On retirement, Bob with his wife Hilde came back to live in Kennington and he became involved in the local community, joining the Vale of White Horse District Council in its early days. Bob was active in the British-German Association of which he became national chairman and introduced our society to its excellent study trips to Berlin. Bob was a strong supporter of all our local twinning groups and particularly of our five- star group
Sqn. Ldr. Frank George Allen
7th May 1929 - 28th August 2018
The sudden but peaceful death of Frank came as a shock to his many friends in twinning. He was for many years a stalwart member of ADTTS and was a regular attendant at all our events as well as taking part in many exchanges both here and in the twinned towns, during which he made a good number of friendships, in both Abingdon and Wantage’s twin towns. In fact he had only returned from a twinning visit to Seesen, Wantage’s German twin a matter of a day or so when he died in his sleep.
Frank had retired to Abingdon after a distinguished 40 year career in the Royal Air Force as a pilot serving in stations across the world. In the 1950’s he was at Abingdon ferrying aircraft, where needed, to Aden, Iran and across the Middle East. In the 1960’s & 70’s he flew Brittannias from Lynham & Brize Norton to Cyprus, Hong Kong, Bahrain, Singapore, Canada, Pakistan, Australia, Nairobi and Nepal. Finally as Squadron Leader of 10 Squadron at Brize Norton he flew VC 10s to the Falklands.
As well as his flying duties, Frank also became qualified in Military Translation of Russian in the 1950's during the cold war and was Intelligence Officer at RAF Brüggen in Germany. His grasp of languages was great, speaking Russian, German, French and Italian with a knowledge of some Arabic, Polish, Japanese, Greek, etc. Always keen to learn, he was very proud to receive his second OU degree on his 82nd birthday, this time in the History of Art.
As well as his connection with our twinning groups, Frank was also a proud and active member of the Abingdon Lions Club and at his funeral a large contingent from Lions, Abingdon and Wantage twinning Societies gathered to pay a respectful farewell to a well-liked colleague.
(See also the longer Eulogy for Frank Allen.)
Longstanding members will be saddened to hear of the death of Renee Harrison, one-time chairman of the society. She passed away on 6th May 2018 aged 100 years. She memorably organised and led a party to visit Colmar in 1991.
Jean Anns 1930 - 2014
It was with great sadness we heard of the death on 4 December 2014 of our Vice President and friend Jean Anns.
Jean was born on 17 July 1930 and grew up in Radley, the eldest of four children. With both her father and mother working to support their young family the role of looking after her siblings was taken by Jean and so by the time her own son Nigel was born she felt she was a very experienced parent. She had married Ken and together they supported Nigel in his youthful activities. One of his main interests was the Abingdon Town Band and soon they were touring with the band and meeting new people. They both valued the importance and pleasure derived from meeting and getting to know people in their own homes and so to become part of Twinning was a natural progression.
Jean's younger brother Stan was also drawn into Twinning and together the three made a formidable contribution to the success of the Society in Abingdon. Jean and Stan joined the committee, with Jean also being on the catering committee as well. She helped mastermind many functions for the society but would never seek the many compliments that were forthcoming from the guests, preferring to staying in the background, usually washing up! As a member of the Abingdon Guild of Town Criers, she was also in the background, creating the uniform that we see today from an original, making jabots and checking that our Town Criers were always immaculate.
Jean with Ken, and often with Stan, visited all of our twin towns on numerous occasions, enjoying the hospitality and friendship and now and again welcoming people in their own home in St Nicolas Green in Abingdon. 'Now and again' might not be the exact phrase to use. They actually hosted over 150 friends from our twin towns!
A couple of days ago a package arrived from Nigel Anns who now lives in Australia. It was a tablecloth which had been mentioned to me and which Nigel had taken with him. Jean asked her guests to sign this tablecloth and she then embroidered their signatures. Amongst the signatures I have found Gabi Reichelmeier, Karin Reichelmeier, Marcel van Lomberghen, Irene Nys and Gwendolyn van Lomberghen, who had all signed their names in the 1980’s. The special thing about these five names are that these were not 'one off' visits. Very special friendships were formed. We know this because these five people joined us to celebrate Jean's life at her funeral. Nigel has kindly given the tablecloth into our care, a wonderful reminder of Jean's kindness and friendship and hospitality and an inspiration for us all.
In her latter years Jean was made Vice President of ADTTS to acknowledge her considerable role in Twinning in Abingdon. We shall miss her.
Harry Simpson 1934 - 2014
Harry and his wife Elizabeth (Edgecombe) were married at the end of August and joined our group to Colmar at the end of September. Both were in very good form and added to the general spirit of enjoyment at various meals and gatherings. It was therefore a very great shock to us all to hear of Harry's collapse and demise only a week after our return. All our sympathies go to Elizabeth at this very hard time.
Harry, along with Elizabeth, had been a good supporter of ADTTS for some time and participated in our exchange visits. Harry rather surprised us whilst we were in Elba during a visit to Lucca. We were visiting Napoleon's Summer Villa and hearing about the cause of his death due to slow arsenic poisoning emanating from the green dye in the wallpaper in his bedroom in St.Helena. Harry (an analytical chemist) quietly remarked "Yes, I made that discovery from some of his hair". I think our standing went up quite a bit.
Harry was a well loved and respected member of his community as was evidenced by the packed congregation at his Thanksgiving Service at Christ Church where there was standing room only and the congregation heard a number of very moving tributes from his family and colleagues. Many members of ADTTS were present.
Our thoughts remain with Elizabeth and hope that the pain is softened by the knowledge that Harry was happy and enjoying his life to the very end.
Members were saddened to hear of the death on 1st September of a very longstanding member of our society, Ken Anns, husband of our Vice-President Jean Anns. Ken was a keen and active twinner in his own right as well as a great supporter of Jean. Between them they have hosted in the region of 150 visitors from our twinned towns and forged many lasting friendships. He well understood the meaning of twinning relationships and their home was always open to visitors to Abingdon.
A number of members were able to attend his Service of Thanksgiving at Christ Church in Northcourt on 14th September and were joined by two of his friends from Schongau and two from Sint-Niklaas, who made the journey over especially. He will be much missed by the society and our sympathies go out to Jean and their son Nigel. Jean has now moved to Abingdon Court Nursing Home.
Ken’s first contact with twinning was when he was a committee clerk with the Abingdon Borough Council, a position he later combined with that of Mayor’s P.A. He was very involved with organising the various celebrations over the twinnings with Schongau and Lucca both here and in the twinned towns. Ably supported by his wife Vicky and his two sons he became very involved in the twinning movement here and during their many visits to the twinned towns and built up very good relationships in all of them. On his eventual retirement from work in the VWHDC he and Vicky retired from their home in Sunningwell to Shropshire. In view of his sterling work for twinning he was made a Vice-President of the Society. Ken and Vicky made their last visit to the Society when they were driven down for our Garden Party in 2000. Vicky was already then confined to a wheel chair and she passed away in April 2010. Ken’s health deteriorated and he went into a nursing home where he passed away peacefully on 11th February 2012.
Hans Kafenda 1928 - 2011
We were saddened to hear of the death of Hans Kafenda of Schongau who passed away on 13th April 2011.
Hans was a good friend of Abingdon having been a member of the Schongau Town Council at the time of our twinning in 1970- 1972. Both as a Councillor and a leading School teacher he did much to help cement the links between our two communities and formed a number of firm friendships here in Abingdon during his several visits and was always a welcoming figure to visitors to Schongau. Our sympathies go to his widow Anneliese.
Members will be saddened to hear of the death of long time member Mrs Puck Capel who passed away peacefully after a long illness on 1st November.
Puck, then Mrs Preece, for a short while in the early 1970s had been our Hon Secretary before accompanying her husband on his appointments in Brazil and Greece. After their return to Abingdon, and John's premature death, Puck became involved in many organisations in the town, particularly those emanating from her beloved St. Helen's Church. She found happiness in her second marriage to John Capel and their life together in Shippon until his sudden death in 2000 after which she returned to live in The Motte in Abingdon and became again a regular attendee at our gatherings.
A number of members were able to attend her Thanksgiving Service in a crowded St. Helen’s on 7th November and pass on our condolences to her sister June and nephew Robert as well as her large Capel step family.
Longer standing members will be saddened to hear the death of Bert Edwardson. Bert was always a staunch supporter of twinning as a District Councillor, member of the Joint Twinning Trust and a committee member of ADTTS for many years. His forays to Lucca and other twinned towns along with John Jones and Chic Wolage became legendary and earned them the title of "Last of the Summer Wine".
Sadly both Bert’s sons predeceased him but he leaves two grandsons and his second wife Rosemarie to whom we send our sincere condolences.
Jean was the widow of John Jones. John served as Mayor of the Borough (1966/67) and Freeman of Abingdon. He was also, as a Vale councillor, Chairman and Leader of that authority. Jean loyally supported John in his different roles and was also very involved in the local community herself. Over the years she was a secretary at Adkins, worked in the Oxfam shop, was a member at Trinity Church and was a Member of ASTA (University of the Third Age); she was a great supporter of the town and will be greatly missed. Jean was a member of the ADTTS for many years, with a great interest in Lucca, which John had connections with at the end of the war and after.
Jean leaves two sons, Andrew and Simon, daughters-in-laws Sarah and Sarah, and grand daughters Emma and Katie.
Hilda was born on the 5th November 1918 and passed away on 11th September 2010 after having a full life of travel and exploring different parts of the world. She was always a jolly person and always smiling, she enjoyed being part of the twin town society, travelling to the twin towns when possible (if she was not travelling the world) and always popular at the garden parties.
It was with very great sadness that ADTTS heard of the sudden death of Cllr Patricia Hobby on Monday 5th July. We had been aware of the health problems which had dogged her mayoralty but she had recently seemed to recover and we were delighted that she chose to return as a representative on our committee when her mayoralty finished at the beginning of May.
Pat had always been a great support to the society and its work and had delighted in visiting the twinned towns and taking a very active part in entertaining return visits. Her involvement was always “hands on” whether it be hosting visitors, catering for barbecues or anything else that was asked of her. At one time her deepfreeze held, for many weeks, an over supply of burgers from one of our events.
Pat would have very much liked to have joined in our trip to Abingdon Virginia in 2008 but gave way to the then Mayor feeling that she would have other opportunities during her own mayoralty to carry the flag abroad. Sadly although the opportunity arouse several times her health prevented her from accepting the invitations.
Our sympathy goes to her two sons and their families. We were represented at her funeral and no doubt many of us will be attending her memorial service at St Helen’s.
It was with great sadness that we have heard of the passing of Vic Day of Shrivenham. As a member and Chairman of the District Council, Vic was a passionate supporter of twinning in the Vale. He instigated the twinning between several villages in the Vale with similar villages around Argentan in Normandy and had visited many of the towns twinned with towns in the Vale.
His funeral was at St Andrew’s Church in Shrivenham at Thursday 8th April.
FROM SHRIVENHAM to SHRIVENHAM, the long journey in life with many varied experiences undertaken calmly and with a permanent smile by one who knew where he came from and where he was going to. Those who knew him are aware of his passionate attachment to his village.
I had the privilege of meeting him in April 1986, when as Chairman of the Vale of the White Horse District Council, Vic Day visited Argentan to attend the Annual Quasimodo Fair. And for 24 years I knew him as judge or fireman … always with the same enthusiasm, the same delicate humour, the same simplicity, he was just Vic.
During the 1990s, again with his usual enthusiasm, together, we established five twinnings:F aringdon / Le Mêle sur Sarthe, Stanford / St. Germain du Corbeis, Uffington / Le Chevain, The Hendreds / Sarceaux and Shrivenham / Mortrée, because, sharing the same values, we thought it was almost a duty to try as best as we could, to achieve something and build bridges to give a real meaning to the word FRIENDSHIP.
His sense of humour was another of his major characteristics - without harshness or sarcasm: it was always a calm and delicate humour, a kind of humour which helps or consoles, somewhat like a wrapped gift which contained a soothing word, for those who wished to understand the message he was trying to get across. In fact, he was a goldsmith of sorts. A simple and delicate sense of humour which I so particularly appreciated in him. Together with our friend, Colin, he didn’t hesitate to come joyfully from Shrivenham to the Continent to disrupt and change an otherwise difficult period.
He also had a talent – so rare these days – to laugh at himself on occasions, and at the same time assume his duties with deep devotion and not with power.
Each of us – and I am sure we are many – will preciously cherish as a genuine gift, the fact that we had him as a friend. In fact, Vic brought out the full meaning of the word GENTLEMAN – a word which could be affectionately also understood here in France as GENTIL HOMME.
Pierre SILLIERE, a.k.a. Columbo (by Vic), Argentan
It was with huge sadness we heard of the death of Heather Pennington on Sunday 29 March. Heather had not been well for a while and had spent some time in the Churchill Hospital but she had been home for a few weeks and we all hoped she was recovering. We were sure that it would only be a matter of time before she was back with us, working hard for the Twinning Society.
When I rang Michael Matthews to find out the roles that Heather had held in the Society I was really surprised to hear that in fact she did not become a member until after she met Stan Ponting in 1999. In 2001 Stan persuaded Heather to join the Society and it was not long before she joined the committee. Almost immediately she became one of our most hard working members. Of course Heather loved travelling, and particularly loved people and so enjoyed visiting our Twin Towns, making friends wherever she went. Her last visit with the Twinning Society was to Abingdon, Virginia, last September. She and Stan stayed with a family there, making new friends.
Because Heather worked so hard for the Society it would be easy to think that it was all she did. She moved to Abingdon from Halewood, Liverpool, 24 years ago and worked for a secretarial agency. She joined Trinity Church and then the Thursday Club. Heather then joined the Bowls Club, Whist Club and was a member of the RSPB.
Together with Stan, Heather travelled a lot. In 2008 she toured New Zealand, walked in the French Alps, went bird watching in the north of England and visited Virginia and Washington DC. She was a wonderful travelling companion, always interested, always laid back and easy going. We got lost once, a group of us, trying to find a hotel on the outskirts of St Petersburg. We were due to arrive at about 6.30pm. When we finally found the hotel at 1.30 am after driving, it seemed, halfway to Siberia, Heather was still smiling and supportive. 'Don’t worry, we’ll find it eventually, we are all together and we are all OK'. Gosh, we will miss her.
Heather leaves a son, Paul, daughter in law Rachel and a granddaughter Rebecca who is 4, as well as her partner for ten years, Stan.
At her funeral on Tuesday 14 April 2009, Trinity Church was packed as many ADTTS members said farewell to Heather Pennington, and afterwards over a hundred gathered in the Church Hall for a lunch provided by the Society and the Thursday Club.
I would like to thank all the members of the society that help with catering at the funeral and for giving her a good send off. She had a lot of friends and was well liked in Abingdon and other parts of the country. I’m taking her ashes to Yorkshire this weekend on a bird watching course, which we attended together many times, but she went many more years (23) than I did. She enjoyed her stays there. We are going to bury the ashes in the gardens with a tree planted on top with a small plaque with her name on. This will be with her friend that attends the course, same people every year.
Loss to Lucca: Nicola Frati (31 years) the son of Anna & Angelo Frati – of the Chestnut Museum, has died in hospital in Turin. He was admitted for a routine liver biopsy but sadly did not survive. He leaves a widow - Alessia, whom he married a few months ago. Our sympathy goes to his family who are well known for their active support of the Twinning movement.
Ada Dyson was born in Dewsbury on 26th February 1916 and died in Bexhill-on-Sea on 18th July 2008.
In 1952 she accompanied her husband Arthur and their two children to Abingdon where he was to take up a position in the Parks Department of the Abingdon Borough Council and subsequently led to the very high standard that it held until local government reorganisation in 1974.
Ada always had a keen interest in people and politics under the banner of Labour & Co-operative movement both locally and nationally and became a director of the Oxford Co-op as well as serving on a number of local and national bodies dealing with the elderly and needy.
In 1971 she was elected at a bye-election to Abingdon Borough Council and served diligently both that council and its successor the Abingdon Town Council until 1987, holding the office of Town Mayor 1981-82.
In 1973 she was in the first tranche of members elected to the new Vale of White Horse District Council and served on that body until 1982.
With her bright red hair and determined northern character she was a formidable fighter for her beliefs on the councils but outside the council chamber she built up warm relations with members of all parties.
Ada became a great supporter of the twinning movement from her first days on the Abingdon Town Council, being among the party from Abingdon who went to Schongau in July 1972 to confirm the twinning agreement there and in September of that year she was in Lucca for the first stage of twinning. The following year she accompanied mayor Michael Matthews in a small group that went to Sint-Niklaas when he was granted the freedom of that city. In later years she made a number of visits to all the twin towns and built up a strong network of friendships with a number of citizens.
She was a member of the committee of the twinning society for many years and led as chairman for several years, organising trips to the twinned towns and always active in welcoming visitors from those towns to Abingdon and often as guests in her own home.
After the death of her husband in the early 90’s she decided to leave Abingdon and had spent her latter years in Malta enjoying the warmer climate and becoming a leading member of the British community there, remaining active until fairly recently. She enjoyed coming back to visit friends and relations and taking the odd ocean cruise. She was always pleased to welcome her old friends to the island and a group went over in 2006 for the great party that was organised for her 90th Birthday where she presided with great vigour.
Only this year she decided to return to her home country and spent her last months in a retirement home in Bexhill where she sadly passed away during an operation to re-set the elbow she had injured in a fall.
Robson and Pam Makepeace
Members will have been very saddened by the news of the tragic death, on Wednesday 7th December in a fire at their home, of Robson & Pam Makepeace. A number were able to join the large congregation at their funeral at St. Michael's on December 16th.
Robson & Pam had been members and supporters of the Society for many years and had very much enjoyed their visits to the twinned towns. They were keen supporters of events here in Abingdon and delighted in playing host to visitors from the twinned towns.
They will be very much missed by the society and our sympathy goes out to their family in this tragedy.