ANNE MARY WHITEHEAD  2nd March 1924 – 30th June 2018

Eulogy for Anne Mary Whitehead 11.00 a.m. Monday 16th July 2018

Church of the English Martyrs, Goring, West Sussex

Thank you all for coming to celebrate the life of a very special lady. Anne the mother, Anne the teacher, “Mif” the optimist.

I am Paul, the eldest of her five boys. I will say a few words and then each of the others, Mark (who has written a song), Chris, David, and Richard (who arrived from Australia late last night) have prepared something of their own. So, “speak up, and don’t mumble”!

My wife Toni in Perth has arranged for a mass to be said in Australia today at the same time.

Over recent years, Mif and I rediscovered together some of the places of her childhood and early life. Mandu Cottage near Torquay, Mevagissey in Cornwall, Margate (with David), Poole, Bath and even Tarrant Rushton, the Airfield – all abandoned now and choked with weeds….and our little Dorset village, Durweston.

Mandu Cottage, Maidencome in Devon where she spent summers as a girl with Uncle Tom, Auntie Joan and cousin Dick

On two occasions, including at 3 Haycombe we took our chances and knocked on the door more than fifty years on, to be welcomed in by a stranger. It was a privilege to re-visit the past and share your recollections.

Saint Nicholas church about 120 yards up the road from our home 3 Haycombe, Durweston

Mif visited my family in Perth Western Australia ten times, both with Dad and later, on her own.

Happy times.

on the porch in South Perth: the last visit together 2005

I challenged her to recall the happiest time of her life.

“As a young married couple on a Sunday morning in our little car ‘Lucy Jane’, from Littlehampton to Arundel singing at the tops of our voices”

She also agreed with me “going from our little village up through the woods on a Sunday afternoon to see Dad at the cricket with a pram-full of babies”

1956: babies and the walk up through Bryanston woods

Older folk sometimes struggle with new technology. (I am finding this myself).

I was trying to explain the internet. “Mif, it’s fantastic! If you want to know anything or check any fact, like ‘the height of Mount Everest’, or ‘the age of the Pope’

– just GOOGLE it" ... ”but I haven’t got a GOOGLER!”   - **

As we get older, our bodies tend to weaken. Mif suffered from ringing/ singing in the ears (tinnitus) as I do (and Chris also I know). It’s a common thing. But now a moment of silliness! Perhaps to give her some consolation, I said (and this is daft), I said “what you hear is the angels singing to you” ” well, they are singing out of key!”

summer in King's Park 3rd January2005

Mif. You were born in 1924, so you knew privation as a little girl during the Depression years, and later with rationing during and after the war. You were tough and knew how to make a lot from a little. You were an optimist. Your greatest achievement, in unifying and maintaining your family is evident here. Mif, I was wrong as a confident twenty-year-old when I told you that your job as a parent was over.

together as a family after Dad died July 2010

You have known me longer than I have known myself. When I was forty-two, your five words guided and shaped my life. Five simple words (how a mother sees her son) were a blessing.


Five simple words can give courage and happiness in a way a twenty-year old cannot understand.

I was wrong. But you were wrong too! “when I’m gone, don’t feel you have to come rushing back” (from Australia). But you are here and so are we.

When Dad died, I found that one or two ‘family anecdotes’, stories from his past, which I assumed everyone knew, were in fact NOT known. The same will be true for you Mif. So, this is why we are here. To share our reminiscences, and sharing will keep your memory alive.


The devil and his crew gave up on you years ago, and now you are in Heaven,

the angels will sing more sweetly.


** Father Liam was a friend to Mif and tells us that

"she has her own GOOGLER now in the unity of the Holy Spirit, who knows everything!"

front lawn on Mif's 89th birthday 2nd March 2013
Mevagissey and more childhood memories Bath. Mif spent time in the WRAF nearby during the war
Poole water front May 2017 enjoying a swing in the children's park at ninety three!
Kingston Lacy Dorset. We used to go to the beach at Bournemouth by bus past here in the fifties, perhaps twice a year a boat ride to Swanage
Worthing hospital with Fred the monkey ...and having a song with Mark 22nd October 2017

October 2017 Rife Way in the conservatory talking to one of her boys

January 2005: exploring the replica ship "Duyfken", which made the first European contact with Australia 1606

Hotel du Vin, Poole October 2016

final farewell, first morning in Berkely Lodge just a minute before returning to Perth 25th October 2017