Obituary: Edna May Kirk

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Edna May Kirk of West Torrington was a highly respected member of the local community who had lived in the area all her life, and it was with great sadness that her family and friends learned of her death, peacefully at her home with her family.

Edna was 93 and had been a widow for 66 years following the death of her young husband in an accident. She is survived by her three children – sons Clifford and Denis and daughter Marion Tomlinson, five grandchildren – Paul, Marie, Peter, David and Sarah, and four great-grandchildren. A sixth grandchild, Andrew, died suddenly and prematurely just over a year ago.

Edna was born in 1918 at Westlaby on the edge of Wickenby airfield, one of four children to Charles Ernest Green, a Methodist preacher for more than 50 years, and his wife, and they lived on farms in the area where he worked as a garthman.

She grew up and attended school locally, and after leaving school went to care for her grandparents and uncles at Hainton for a time.

She then worked for the Richardson family in the village before joining the Portas family at West Torrington Grange, where she worked from 7am-7pm for the princely sum of eight shillings weekly (40p today) with just half a day off each week.

It was while she was there she met her husband-to-be, Harry Kirk, a farmworker at Manor Farm, and after they were married at West Torrington in March 1937 they set up home, initially in the village.

They moved to Toft Newton when Harry obtained work and a cottage on the Harrison family farm. And it was there, in 1946, he was electrocuted in a tragic accident when the elevator struck the overhead power line while he was helping with the harvest.

Edna was left devastated and a young widow with three small children to look after. She moved her family back to West Torrington to make a home with her parents, but there was more sadness for Edna when her mother died just a few months later.

She then kept house for her father while caring for her children as they grew up, and when her dad retired in 1958 they moved into the cottage in the village which was to be her home for the rest of her life.

After Mr Green’s death in 1969 she lived alone, surrounded by her family and friends and caring for others wherever there was a need. Edna was a lifelong and loyal member of the Methodist Church and dedicated to the village chapel at West Torrington. She attended services regularly and particularly enjoyed the anniversaries and other special festivals, while also looking after the building. She worked tirelessly to help to try to keep the chapel as the congregation gradually dwindled.

She was also an active member of the community, and when part of the chapel was opened as a community room she helped with events held there, often on duty as hostess, including meetings of the Barkwith Group Over 60s Club, where she was a long-standing member.

When the Rev Tony Simpson retired the club was in danger of closing and Edna was one of those who helped to keep it open, meeting with friends to arrange transport, fundraising and a programme.

She was also a member of the Market Rasen Seven Churches Travelling Guild, travelling round on the late Ted Green’s bus to the much-looked-forward-to weekly meetings with friends in the village chapels where she often joined the congregations for special services.

Edna’s main interests in life revolved around the chapel and her family, but she was very fond of spending time in her garden, and when walking became difficult and she was no longer able to do the physical work, members of her family were on hand with offers of help.

The addition of a conservatory enabled her to enjoy her garden at leisure from the comfort of her arm chair and she spent many happy hours sitting admiring the flowers and watching the birds which she encouraged to enjoy it with her.

She had always enjoyed good health, and when she became increasingly frail during the last few weeks of her life her family took over the duty of carers, supported by the professional help of the doctors and nurses which enabled Edna to remain in the comfort of her own home as she wished.

The affection in which she was held was illustrated by the number of friends who gathered for the service of thanksgiving held at Middle Rasen Methodist Chapel, where she had joined the congregation, while she was able, after West Torrington closed.

Edna had listed some of her favourite hymns from which the family made their choice and the Rev Marty Presdee, conducting the service, passed on her wish that those attending the thanksgiving should have a good sing in the traditional Methodist way – and the congregation obliged.

Edna’s grandson, David Tomlinson, read ’There is a time for everything’ from Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 and her eldest son Clifford paid the family tribute to a loving mum, grandma, great-grandma, Edna to a lot of people and a lovely lady to many others.

The Rev Presdee acknowledged Edna’s lifelong dedication to the Methodist Church and West Torrington Chapel in particular, which she had worked so valiantly to preserve, and after accepting that it was not possible to keep it open any longer she had provided facilities for services to be held in her home for a time.

Family mourners were Cliff and Gill Kirk (son and daughter-in-law); Alan and Marion Tomlinson (daughter and son-in-law); Denis and Iris Kirk (son and daughter-in-law); Paul and Heather Kirk, Mark and Marie Lawson, Peter Tomlinson, David Tomlinson and Claire Philipson, Darran and Sarah Challis, Michelle Kirk (grandchildren); Adam Lawson, Amy Lawson, Abigail Lawson, Jasmine Morrison (great-grandchildren); Walter Vear (brother-in-law); Ron Vear; Derek Vear and Helen White; Colin and Pat Green; Ann Green; Keith Green (also representing Clive Green and Sue Green); Christine Brooks; Roy and Elsie Kirk; Denis and Janet Belton; Joanne Ward; Peter and Skeeta Vear; David and Emma Vear; Andrew Vear.

Friends present included Brian and Anne Lingard; Mr Tomlinson; Christine Tomlinson; Doris Woodhall; Mr A Johnson; Roy Tomlinson; the Rev Horace Marshall; David Islip; Jim Robinson; Mr and Mrs P Ranyard; A Lillywhite; Mr and Mrs W Hankins; Don Owen; Peter and Pat Burrows; Mr A Scott; Peter and Jenny Atkinson; Beverly Laing; Mr and Mrs Ted Goulsbra; John Atkin; Mary Hoban; Colin and June Hare; Michael and Brenda Gilman; Ann Bilton; Reuben Atkin; Mr and Mrs Charles Shepherd; Mrs M Smith; Brian and Elsie Fieldsend; Betty Jackson (also representing Norman Dunn); Pat Steel (also representing the Steel family and Murphy family); John and Linda Kirk; Mr and Mrs Harold Bates; Mrs Young; Mr Stanney; Mr Les Miller (also representing Marie); Alice Hodgson; Mrs S Adlard; Mrs A Surfleet (also representing Mr and Mrs Brian Cook and Mrs P Thwaites); Diane Slater; the Rev and Mrs B Kirkby; Mrs J Grimshaw; Mr and Mrs John W Robinson; Mr and Mrs J R Ward and others.

Funeral arrangements were by J Marshall Funeral Directors.