Obituary: Nina Greenaway Heber (née Savill)

Nina Greenaway Heber (née Savill)
(OE 1942-1947)

Born 17 January 1930, died 22 October 2019

Nina had a happy early childhood at Boxridge Avenue, Purley, with two older and one younger brothers, a nanny and a large labrador dog. From age three, Nina and family spent summer days in Brighton, Lyme Regis and Cockham Common as well as at home.

Of course at age nine the Second World War started, which put a stop to many normal family events. It had a profound effect on Nina. During the Second World War, Croydon High School girls were evacuated to Northamptonshire, Eastbourne and Llandilo in Wales. Nina, a pupil at the time, wanted to be evacuated, but her father would not allow it. He said, ‘if we are going to die, we will all die together.’ Nina’s parents did not like her going into Croydon in case it was bombed, so at age ten, they sent her to a new school that had opened in Old Coulsdon called Purley Grammar School for Girls, where she later got into trouble with the headmistress, Miss Simpson, for sliding down the bannisters!

She transferred to Eothen School where she first met the Hebers – sisters Helen and Jo, and Dr Frank Heber’s daughters, Betty (Head Girl), Enid and Margaret. Nina was overjoyed to go there as at break and lunchtime they played in the garden, where they could climb trees! Enid soon became a good friend and at Nina’s 16th birthday party arranged for her cousin, Ken, to bring some Caterham friends to the party in his mother’s Austin 7. From the party on, Ken and Nina went everywhere together. After leaving school, Nina worked as a bilingual secretary for a leather firm in London, commuting there with her father every day.

In June 1951, Ken and Nina were married at St Andrews Church, Purley. After two years and the birth of their first child, they moved from Hampshire, where Ken had been in the RAMC, to Old Coulsdon. Nina had become a full time housewife and Ken was to enter general practice at 2 Court Avenue, Old Coulsdon, where they later added four more children to their family. In the early days there, Nina had to cope with patients in the hall (the waiting room) while looking after two children under five. Nina was an excellent cook and seamstress making many of her daughters’ dresses. At school she had been good at sports (mainly netball and lacrosse), but raising five children left little time for hobbies. When the children were older she enjoyed badminton and painting.

After Ken retired, he and Nina embarked on a world tour visiting family members in Zimbabwe, Australia and Chicago, and many places in between. They got the travel ‘bug’ and had many holidays with friends abroad and in the U.K. after that.

Nina and Ken moved into a bungalow, still in Old Coulsdon. They were always very involved in local community matters and, Nina, as a member of Inner Wheel and Women’s Institute, and Trefoil, took part in many charity and money raising events, and through these organisations, she made many friends.

Sadly, Nina developed Alzheimer’s in 2012. Ken was her carer until his death just over two years ago, at which point the family took charge. Her final months were spent being well looked after and entertained at Elizabeth Court, Caterham. She died in East Surrey Hospital almost a month after being admitted there. Her five children, ten grandchildren and ten great grandchildren, who will remember her love, kindness and sense of fun, will sorely miss Nina.

Written by her daughter, Corinne Pavey