Goring volunteer Mary, truly a 'one off'

TRIBUTES have been paid to popular Goring volunteer Mary Stewart who has died, aged 87.

Mrs Stewart, of Melville Way, was well-known to many due to her years of tireless voluntary work and for setting up scores of groups and organisations.

Her daughter, Mary-Anne Ley, of Sompting, said: "She was always laughing and smiling and very popular with everyone she met — she had no enemies.

"She was able to communicate with everyone she met, no matter how old they were.

"We are extremely proud of all the things she did in her life."

Mrs Stewart, who died on October 25, was born in 1919 in Durrington and was the eldest of three sisters.

Her grandfather, Mr Coote, was the last miller of Salvington Windmill and she frequently played there as a child.

War work

Mrs Stewart was 20 years old when World War II broke out.

She joined the civil defence as an ambulance driver and learnt first aid.

She then trained as a plotter at Leighton Buzzard and was posted to Inverness.

She was also on duty at Biggin Hill on D-Day.

Townswomen's Guild

After the war, she joined the Durrington Townswomen's Guild, encouraged by her mother.

She opened Goring Townswomen's Guild and set up many others, including Field Place.

Mrs Stewart was a life-long member of the Townswomen's Guild and was co-opted into the national executive of Townswomen's Guilds and was the first in West Sussex to be given such an honour.

She also became president of the West Sussex Federation.

At the time of her death, she was a member of the West Tarring branch.

In 1950, she settled in Melville Way. She married and had three children, Ian, Raymond and Mary-Anne.

Singing hairdresser

She became a hairdresser and was often seen on her bicycle, going round Goring and Worthing to cut people's hair in their homes. She visited many nursing homes as part of her job.

Mrs Stewart was a life-long member of the West Sussex Federation Choir and was planning carol concerts just a few days before she died.

She was also a founder member of the Worthing Musical Comedy Society and was still heaviy involved right up to her death.

The last performance of the most recent show, Mack and Mabel, was dedicated to her memory.

For many years, she also volunteered at the Connaught Theatre and, come rain or shine, she never missed selling programmes, ice cream and showing people to their seats.

Her hearse passed by the Connaught on the way to Worthing Crematorium and people applauded her. Her family hope to dedicate a box at the theatre to her in honour of her service there.

Peter Bailey, theatres manager, said: "She was one of our most ardent supporters as a volunteer. She was a one-off and will be sorely missed."

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