Obituary: Sheila Wilson (née Spence)

Sheila Wilson (neé Spence)
(OE 1934-1946)

Born 25 May 1929, died 13 October 2020

Sheila attended Eothen with her two older sisters, Wendy & Joan.  They became weekly boarders when the short train journey from their home next to Kenley Aerodrome to Caterham became too risky during the war.  After leaving school she spent six months in Switzerland learning to speak French and to cook, the latter being one of her great skills and joys for the rest of her life.

She went to Reading University to read English & Philosophy, and after graduating got a job at the London bookshop of J&E Bumpus.  (Apparently she said she could type…)  She met her husband, John Wilson, at the bookshop, and they enjoyed a long engagement before getting married in 1955 and moving to Blindley Heath, in Surrey, to a house that she lived in for the next 64 years.  Bookselling was a theme throughout her working life, in shops in East Grinstead and Smallfield, but she also greatly enjoyed gardening, and worked as a nursery gardener, as well as growing top class roses at home for sale to a Belgravia florist.

Determined, sometimes opinionated, always enjoying a good argument, she made her home a welcoming place for many friends, and later for the friends of her two children, who of course became her friends too.  They would turn up on the doorstep and were assured of a warm welcome, food and a bed if necessary.   She became active in her local church, arranging flowers and spearheading a very successful campaign to get the bells repaired and rehung.  After her husband died in 2001, she drew great strength from being in the house they had made together, where every shelf, cupboard and hook was a positive reminder of his presence.  She continued the love of reading that she gained at school, and was still able to quote chunks of poetry well into her 80s.

Intellectually curious right to the end, she was a fantastic granny, a tactful mother-in-law and a true friend to her four grandchildren.

Written by her daughter, Lynnet Williams