‘Westerly’, 37 Mearse Lane,
Barnt Green, Worcestershire
We cut the cake with my Regimental Sgian Dubh of the
7th/9th (Highlanders) Battalion The Royal Scots
Visit to East Sleekburn. Pearson and Ann. Visit to West Sleekburn
Coventry: ready for another garden party this time at Buckingham Palace
We met in Edinburgh in October 1948 and knew right away we would be partners for life and were married in 1950 in the Methodist Church at Bedlington Station and began our life together in a flat at 12 George Place, Peebles, my home town. Whilst Mabel practised midwifery at the Peebles Morelands Hospital I travelled each day to Edinburgh where I was on the staff of The Scotsman Publications. After six months we bought a house at 15 Grierson Crescent in the Granton Area of Edinburgh in late 1950 in time to make a home for the arrival of our son, Pearson, born on the second last day of that year at the Royal Simpson Maternity Pavilion. In 1953 our daughter Ann Barbara was born, again at the RSMP. Usually it meant a stay in the Maternity Hospital for about ten days, but after day one Mabel was up and about helping to look after the other mothers, taking temperatures and helping them with their babies.
Early in the year following our marriage, we suffered a most grevious loss when Mabel’s Mother Sarah Ann died. With a new baby and deeply mourning the loss, it was especially hard to bear for her not to be able to share with her Mother the joy she was experiencing at the start of her married life. She bravely faced the future, and now looked to support her Father in whatever way she could. Her strength of character stood the test during those early years, and she truly was the daughter of a fine principled Mother and Father and all her life she was a credit to them both. After ten years in Edinburgh, I was appointment director and general manager of a newspaper company in Coventry. We moved to a different environment and began a new phase of family life, buying a house at 72 St Martins Road in the Finham district of Coventry named ‘The Sheiling’ (a safe place) and so it was: a haven for both of us from the busy lives we were now leading and a loving home for our children Pearson and Ann at new schools. The move to Coventry meant new responsibilites for Mabel. When I was interviewed by the Proprietor in London we both travelled by air from Edinburgh and after I had lunched with my new employer, Mabel went on her own later that day to have tea with him. We both got the job! She quickly obtained her driving licence and loved to drive. Many years afterwards she told me she would have liked to have piloted a plane! Family life centred on schools and a growing social life as the rôle of a newspaper director required being out and about at all kinds of events and in this capacity Mabel was a natural as she was interested in people and in life around her. She liked people and this showed, especially as she had the facility to remember names, a skill from her days in charge of a hospital ward and the need to know every patient, their diagnosis and treatment. She took on the task of visiting a number of old employees of the newspaper company which was very much family-orientated, many having worked with the newspaper during the Coventry ‘blitz’. She offered to take a retired couple out for a drive, the husband having retired from the newspaper many years ago and was now blind. He quickly suggested he would like to visit the ‘Rollright Stones’ which he had heard about on a talk show on the radio; they date from about 2000BC and these 70 upright stones now tend to lean towards each other and referred to as the ‘Whispering Stones’. Mabel found she had to undertake a long drive to Long Compton on the Warwickshire-Oxfordshire border and then had great dfficulty of locating the site! Mabel proved to be a superb partner when we attended social functions and the number of these increased when I became managing director. She always had a tremedous capacity to absorb and to make many friends and so was equipped to responded to every challenge we faced in our busy life.
She loved cooking and was a marvellous baker with a good hand for pastry. When Mabel moved to Coventry she extended her skills as she enthusiasticaly attended Cordon Bleu Cookery classes. She always thought she had inherited the cooking skills of her Grandmother Smith, who enterprisingly took orders from neighbours in West Sleekburn for Steak Pies which Mabel or her cousins would deliver on Fridays! During our time in Edinburgh when she gave up nursing to provide a happy home life for me, Pearson and Ann, she enlisted in the National Reserve of Nurses and prepared to respond to any national or local emergency. She also did clinic work at the Edinburgh Birth Control Centre, ever longing and missing working in the hospital environment. In the 1950s, nurses when married were not retained in hospital employment but that changed in the 1960s and whilst in Coventry she responded to an appeal for former nurses to return to the National Health Service to make up for a shortage of trained nursing staff. She returned to do night work and to up-date herself in the new dosages and techniques, and was immediately appointed a Sister and then asked to take on Night Superintendent of the Warwick and Leamington Hospitals. However, she could not pursue this with the increasing demands on her time to be with me as we undertook the public relations aspect of my job.
Attending our first Royal Garden Party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh,
on the visit of The Queen immediately after her Coronation
in June 1953
This greatly increased when I was appointed Chairman and Managing Director of the Birmingham Post & Mail, which necessitated moving house, leaving 72 St Martins Road with much regret as we had been very happy there. Since we were married we had spent 10 years in Edinburgh and then another ten years in Coventry. Now we removed again, to ‘Westerly, 37 Mearse Lane, Barnt Green, in Worcestershire and some 12 miles south of Birmingham, where we would have thirty more years of married life together.