Vera Perry: 10th August, 1913 - 6th November, 2012                From the Wrington Village Journal, December/Janury, 2012          Photo kindly supplied by Pat Ledbury
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From the Revd Noel Hector Rector of All Saints’, Wrington 1995-2003 I find it hard to think of Wrington without Vera, or indeed Vera without Wrington. If one were to write a letter to her, merely addressing the envelope "Vera, Wrington" would have been enough for she had lived within the village, in the house she was born in, for almost a hundred years. She gardened in the same cottage garden as her father had done and within her lived a million memories of the changing community. Her earliest was in 1917, when she was just five years old, and the blinds coming down in Station Road as news of her father's death in the Great War reached home. How marvellous that in her final years she could complete this story by providing  the stone memorial in church to the fallen. Maybe something of Vera's determination came from these early years. She saw how her mother had to struggle with two young children, a rent to pay, and a tiny income. It became one of the greatest sources of pride to her, that following her qualification as a teacher,
 she could afford to take on the cost of the house and lift from her mother the worry of it. Vera became committed to a form of independence, taking responsibility for oneself, but recognising the needs of others. She was both hugely disciplined but understanding. I suspect the children she taught understood this full well - Miss Perry was not to be trifled with, but Miss Perry could be trusted to be fair. Although she had few of life's advantages, Vera had a stoic and resolute character. She was intelligent, strong, independent, loyal, industrious, wise and perceptive. If all this was true so also was her sparkling sense of humour, sense of occasion and enthusiasm. Although tiny in frame, she was a force to be reckoned with and in my opinion a powerful force for good. She was a surprisingly contemporary person, someone who valued the past but who didn't live in it and who welcomed change and development  if it was necessary and well planned. If Wrington was her home, then so too was the church where she served all her life. She loved singing in the choir and her role as sacristan and was present at almost every baptism, wedding and funeral in living memory. Her personal faith was rooted in her character and in real life and she made little distinction between life in the community and her life of faith in God. Her family, faith,  teaching, friends and neighbours, church, choral society, village journal, minibus, cards, photography and more were all of essential value to her and somehow bound up with each other as indeed they should be. Although Vera had a mother and a sister (Stella, who died in 2001) she had no other close family. This village community, and her friends within it, were her family. So I suppose it was that as I became Rector in 1995 I too became part of this. "You are my ninth!" were the first words she said to me. Her last were the prayers we said as she knew she was dying. In between lay my growing respect, admiration and affection for an extraordinary person. She was without fail supportive and encouraging. She adopted me and my own growing family as a part of her own and for as long as I live I shall recall her with enormous gratitude. Until we meet merrily in heaven. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ From Trevor Wedlake  Writing four or five centuries before the birth of Christ, Old Testament prophet Job, of whom we know so little - yet the music of whose poetry comes down to us unmuffled by the torrents of time - wrote "A man comes to his grave full of years like a shock of corn in its season." This is surely true of Vera Perry, who has died aged 99. Vera was born at 2, Baker's Buildings, Station Road, on 10th August, 1913 and lived there until the day before she died on 6th November, 2012. She was the younger of two daughters of Sally and William Perry. Her father was killed in the Great War in 1917, and Vera remembered her mother receiving the War Office telegram. Until well into old age, she sold poppies at Remembrance-tide, and more recently had a large war memorial erected in All Saints'. She said they deserved to be inside. For many years until she was 96 she organised the distribution of this Journal. Vera attended the grammar school in Weston super Mare, and, after teacher-training college, she went into teaching in Long Ashton - 3 bus rides from home - until she bought her first car after the war. It was just at the end of the war, in 1947, she became one of the founder members of Wrington Choral Society, under Mr Hamm, and was still in it when it wound up a couple of years ago. In 1949 she joined the choir of All Saints' and her soprano voice could still be well heard until about 18 months back. Since the age of 90 she had had a number of trying health problems and dealt with them stoically and cheerfully. During these years she greatly appreciated the support she received from her many friends, including Fiona and David Jewell in the newsagents next door, and missed them very much when they moved away. Vera never lost her 'school ma'am' manner and you were lucky not to be given a task if you got caught up in her radar. She did not inherit her parents’ house - she purchased it herself when she was a young woman, a considerable feat in those days. Although she never married, the late Arthur Clements (Emmet), an acquaintance of early years and a local wag, claimed to have slept in Vera's bed. She was known by her stepfather and close neighbours as 'the little maid'. "I've slept in Vera's bed, I've slept in the little maid's bed, I'm the only man to have done that" claimed Arthur, only later admitting it was in the house where Vera lodged in Weston - but when she was at home in Wrington ! Fortunately, Vera had a lively sense of humour. She was quite small, and seemed to grow smaller in great old age. "I'm so old," she said to me once, "that I can remember when I was bigger than Eleanor Hair." Wringtonians of recent vintage should know that Mrs Hair was one of the tallest women in the village. If Vera rang you, the conversation would be quite short, but if you rang her, she would be quite chatty. A year or so ago, I had occasion to ring her, and idly asked what she was then doing. "I'm planning my funeral service," she said. "Oh, don't do that, Vera," I said, "are you having a psalm ?" Her instant response was "Yes, Psalm 119." For those unfamiliar with the Psalter, Psalm 119, being 176 verses long, is by far the longest, and, sung to Anglican chant, would extend the service beyond endurance. Even the monks with time on their hands in mediaeval monasteries would have protested. Given that we must all pass out in the context of our world, the death of a 99-year old lady who has lived all her life in her own cottage in a tranquil village, is not a matter of great sorrow. Nevertheless, there is in Vera's passing a distinct sense of loss, of an ending inevitably tinged with sadness, if only in the sombre belief expressed in Donne's lovely poem - that we are not each self-contained, but all part of a whole, and that the life of each of us is diminished by the death of one of us.                                                                                                        ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ From  Lillian Edwards  I was so sad to hear of the death of Miss Perry; she has been a presence in Wrington all of my life.  Whenever we bumped into each other, in the village, she was always so friendly and stopped for a chat and I will miss that.  She  was always 'Miss Perry', not Vera, to me and my family and well deserved the respect afforded to her.  It was Miss Perry who, a few years ago, fought for the memorial plaque now placed in the church, in respect of the villagers who lost their lives during the two world wars; her father and my brother included.  We thank her for recognising the need for that plaque and for her steadfast determination in seeing it come to fruition.  Wrington has lost a lovely lady.  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ From Rona Wright (née Coles) Greenwood, Western Australia Vera Perry was known to myself and my brother David Coles as Aunt Vera, she was our second cousin, Vera’s father was our Grandmother’s brother, so, when I was born in 1943,  because of the age difference Sally, Vera’s mother, and Vera were known as Aunty Sally and Aunty Vera respectively, there being some thirty years and one day difference between Vera and myself.! They were always part of our family. I have lived in Australia for some forty two years, and every two years when I have been home, (as I always call Wrington)  and before my Mother and Sister were tragically killed in the Swiss air disaster, we would always visit Aunt Vera and enjoy a cup of tea with Aunt Vera. Since then my brother and I would still take tea with Vera. I was over only last year and again enjoyed tea with her and my Husband, little knowing that would be the last time we would see her. We were aware that she was in very poor health but in spite of that the Aunt Vera I remembered from years ago shone through in her smile and eyes.  Bless her, she was always determined to end her days in the house in which she had been born. Last year she took me to her lounge window and said as she looked across at the Church, “That’s what I want to see at the end of my long life”. Some years ago she showed me a locket which my Great Uncle had given her prior to his going off to the war, it contained his photo, and one of little Vera. Sadly he did not return.  Vera had always promised me the locket, however, it wasn’t to be, sadly, it was taken with other items during the burglary. In conclusion I will add that future visits to my home village will never be quite the same anymore, she has been part of my life for some seventy years, Rest in Peace Dearest Aunt Vera, united with your family and your Lord.                                                                                                ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ From Ian Overington When my family & I moved into Priory House, Station Road as newcomers to Wrington nearly 49 years ago, Vera was already what could possibly be called a village institution.  She was also one of the first people whom we met when she knocked on our front door only a day or two after we had moved in.  She introduced herself by saying that she had heard (from somewhere) that both my wife and I were musical and were singers.  Therefore would we like to join the village Choral Society?  As someone who had previously been involved with three other choral societies, I gladly accepted the invitation.  My wife declined, primarily because at that time our three children were quite small. As my wife & I were both church goers, we were to meet up with Vera quite frequently in and around the church.  Also I was invited to join the church choir, of which Vera turned out to be a staunch & dedicated member.  Later I became the choirmaster and Vera continued to be one of the most reliable choir members. Over the years it became clear that Vera was involved in  all sorts of village activities.  In particular she turned out to be the long standing secretary of the choral society and in later years was also very involved with the growing village journal.  As a member of the ad hoc committee which was formed to launch the said journal relatively soon after we came to the village, I feel certain (although my memory of the time is vague) that Vera would also have been involved in that formative committee.  She remained actively involved with the journal in one way or another until the last very few years - in fact it was her, as a journal committee member, who persuaded me to take on the job of editor for a while during the late 1990's (until we moved away) when the journal was otherwise in danger of folding. Of course, in relatively recent years she also acted as church verger for several years, carrying out that commitment as diligently as any of her other jobs. For many years she organised a team of stewards, of which my wife was a member, for periodic activity at Wells Cathedral.  I have gathered that this activity was very rewarding for those participating. She was an ardent garden lover, tending her long strip garden which we could see over our garden wall with the aid of her sister Stella until Stella's death some years ago.  Since then she has apparently continued to look after that plot at least partially until quite recent times. Not everybody in the village seemed to be able to get on with her, but I found no significant problem.  True she could have strong views - but don't most of us!  It takes two to tango, as they say. She will, I'm sure, be sadly missed in the village. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ From Paul Norcross, past Chairman Wrington Vale Choral Society  Vera had already lived most of her long life before I got to know her as President of the Wrington Vale Choral Society, which she had been instrumental in starting  in 1948. Back in those days, there wasn't anything like it in the area but this was no disincentive to someone who had already experienced something of the harshness of this world. Her father had lost his life in 1917, well before the days of welfare state and NHS (which also came to fruition in 1948). She lived and worshipped in the village which will now be the poorer for her passing; she had seen many celebrations of the arrival of new life and expressions of sadness at the passing of lives but the security of her personal faith was such that it was no drama for her to arrange the order of service for her own funeral .Practical as ever , she was content to acknowledge her place in the order of things after many long years.   After a rich and varied life during which she was able to make things happen by sheer force of will and hardwork, for Vera, the best is yet to be as she spends eternity in the nearer presence of the Lord she loved and worshipped at All Saints’.                                                                                                             ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ From Echo Irving I came down to Wrington in the late 1960's to take up a post at was then the Further Education Staff College at Coombe Lodge. I thought that one of the best ways to get to know more about the village would be to attend the Annual Parish Meeting. This was then a very formal occasion with the Chairman, the Deputy Chairman and the Clerk seated on the stage and the rest of us at a lower level in the hall. It was very well attended and after all the official stuff had been completed there was a time for questions from the audience. Behind me, I heard this very clear female voice ask a question; I can't remember what about - something to do with the state of the pavements I think - but what struck me was the precision of the way it was phrased. I peeped round and saw a slight, middle-aged lady. Those on the stage were rather evasive so she persisted, very politely until she got a promise of some action being taken. I was impressed. That was my first encounter with Vera. She was very determined when ever she made a point, always polite but persistent! She had with others such as Essie Clark, been a founder member of Wrington Choral Society and later President, until the Society was wound up. She sang in the church choir from childhood until a week before she died.. She had a beautiful, clear soprano voice, very true and accurate. Also for very many years she was Sacristan at All Saints which was, and still is, a very demanding role. I understand that in her earlier years, she ran a youth club in the village. My main contribution to Vera's last years was getting her to church, initially walking with her and later, taking her by wheelchair. Once at the foot of the chancel step, others from the choir, such as Veronica Thorn, and sometimes people from the congregation, would get her up the step and safely into the choir stalls. I was getting worried that she was coming to the stage when she would have to stay in her chair and not be able to reach the choir stalls, but thank goodness, Vera folded her wings and left us before this last stage. Vera was an old-fashioned primary school teacher with all the virtues and drawbacks that implies. She was resourceful, good at making things and taking games. She was also renowned for poking choir girls in the back if they slumped in the front stall! We implored her not to do this and finally she desisted except for an occasional lapse! She was very intelligent and, fortunately, she reached the end of her life with very little diminishment in brain function. She came from a poor but loving family; poor because her father had been killed in the First World War, leaving her mother with three children to bring up, Very told me that one of the ways in which her mother raised some extra income was by letting the front room to the district nurse for her sessions. How her mother coped with young children in the small kitchen I don't know. This makes it more exceptional that she won a scholarship to Weston Grammar School and then went on to St Mary's Teacher Training College in Cheltenham, rather than being an apprentice teacher which was the usual way at that time. The College sent Vera a beautiful bouquet of flowers for her birthday up to the end of her life. She spent her teaching career at Long Ashton Primary School. Vera had a great sense of humour, often directed at herself. She told me how when she broke her knee on the ice outside her house one bad winter, the last thing she remembered before she fainted, was Ken Collins saying to Trevor Wedlake, 'Let's slide her into the gutter…..' She said that at that point she felt that she had reached her level. One of the things I remember is the occasion when George Carey, then Bishop of Bath and Wells but just promoted to Canterbury, fulfilled his promise of coming to Wrington. Somewhere in our archives is a picture of Vera in the vestry, dwarfed by the bishop's mitre and crosier and with a very impish expression on her face. One of her most important characteristics was her determination, once she had decided to do something, then she would achieve it. She raised a lot of money for various church projects with her recycled card factory. This was held in her sitting room where retired people with a little time on their hands would transform our last year's cards into new ones by remounting them. How much I miss that service now. The most important thing she achieved was the mounting of a plaque on the back wall by the vestry, in memory of all who died in the two world wars from this village. She put money into it and then money came in from all sorts of sources and she supervised every stage. I think her proudest moment was when this was installed and  became part of our Remembrance Day service. She was a quite remarkable woman, not just because she lived to be nearly a hundred but because of her personal characteristics. Last August, as she approached her 99th birthday, she decided to hold a living wake since she wanted to be able to attend. So we all had a lovely tea in the Sports and Social Club, with Vera holding court in a lovely pink outfit. Vera loved cakes and despite having diabetes took the opportunity to indulge on special occasions. Another thing about her was that she was very particular about her appearance. On the occasions when we had to select clothes to take to the hospital for her, woe betide us if we hadn't made sure that all the colours toned!. Dear Vera, may you rest in peace and rise in glory.                                                                                                               ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ From Steve Taylor, Editor, Wrington Village Journal I first met Vera just after my family and I moved to Wrington. It was at a card sale in the Reading Room, and during that first interview she established what I did, where I'd come from, and where I had moved to in the village. In return, she told me she remembered the houses in King’s Road going up, how much it had cost to rent them when they were first built, and then gave me a pretty thorough introduction to everything that was happening in the village. I will always be grateful for her friendship, and the firm guidance, leavened by her sharp wit, that she provided me with, since I took over the editorship of the Village Journal. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ From Richard Thorn When Veronica and I came to Wrington in 1967 we attended All Saints' on our first Sunday, and amongst others, we met Vera, so we can claim to have known her for that long. We've known her as someone with a dry and very ready wit, with a very clear view of right and wrong, both in her own behaviour and that of others. Amongst those others were the Rector - not just the present Rector, nor just the previous one, nor the one before that - but all 10 Rectors since the Revd George Ashdown (1890-1925). When it came to the way things should be done in church, she left them in doubt what she thought, and, judging by the 5 I've known, they accepted her admonitions with humour and good grace because they mostly realised she was right. Those who've known her all their lives will no doubt cover her time as a young girl, a schoolteacher, founder member of Wrington Choral Society (of blessed memory) and the Village Journal. For me, recording village affairs with still and video camera for 45 years, she was someone who could - and would - ask the awkward questions at open parish council meetings and church meetings, who turned up in my viewfinder at every conceivable village event, and was always good for quote which would capture the nub of the matter, or show up a stupid question for what it was. In my video (on the website) of her living wake in August this year, I ask her how does it feel to be 99 ? A second's hesitation and then "much as it did when I was 98" she flung back. It's a cliché to say of an outstanding character in any community, "they'll be sorely missed". With Vera, that's simply accurate. She'll be missed with affection, warmth, and a wry smile.