The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


Betty Bishop was born on 5 October 1912 the third of five children to George Lucas and Fanny Lucas in the village of Leintwardine, near Ludlow in Shropshire. She attended the local Church of England Primary School where her Aunt, also known as Elizabeth, was a schoolteacher.

Her day would start with milking the cows and delivering the milk before she went to school and her other responsibilities included feeding the chickens and a pig kept by the family in those days. From an early age she understood the necessity of working hard and not complaining about her lot.

By the time she was twelve she had read the Bible from cover to cover helped no doubt by her required attendance at Church on Sunday mornings and Chapel in the afternoon. The family treat was listening to the News and the Archers each weekday evening when George would switch the radio off. Her love of reading developed at this early age.

Before she left Leintwardine at the age of twelve she had become a vegetarian- feeding the family livestock had struck a chord and of her own volition chose not to inflict pain and suffering on helpless creatures.

Arriving in Birmingham at such a young age she went to Raddlebarn School which was a feeder school for potential employees of Cadbury’s in Bourneville, Birmingham. The Cadbury family were Quakers and developed a model social welfare system: The Bourneville Village Trust. No pubs or gambling were allowed and Day Release Education and health care were provided for the workforce. Betty was lucky enough to pass the Entrance Examination and was thrilled to be accepted.

Betty met Albert Frederick Tidmarsh (Fred) her first husband in her late twenties and her first child Alan was born shortly afterwards. At the outbreak of the Second World War Fred volunteered for the RAF and became a rear gunner on Wellington Bombers. He was awarded the Air Force Cross for taking part in the raid on Peenemunde but sadly was killed in a training accident shortly afterwards. This left Betty a widow with a ten month old baby boy Alan. Betty would often tell the story of the one surviving crew member who came to Fred’s Funeral – someone who chose to go to each of the seven comrades’ Funerals as a mark of respect.

A young widow with little financial support, Betty did what she had always done – she went back to work at the Austin Motor Company (later known as British Leyland) in Longbridge where she met her second husband Walter Louvain Bishop (Wally). Her sister Winnie came to live with her to help bring up Alan and Wally impressed Betty by repainting the outside of her home in Tessal Lane, Northfield.    

Her second son Gerald came along in 1950 but the birth was marred by his twin brother dying at birth. Dr Foulkes, the family physician, had decided to deliver the boys at home. This gentleman was probably the only person in Betty’s life that she never forgave. A third son John and daughter Eileen (known as Bun) came along shortly after in quick succession. Betty had her hands full bringing up four children and Wally took on work away from home to help the family finances, only returning at the week-ends. Sadly Walter had a major heart attack in 1956 and her son John was admitted to hospital for most of that year eventually being diagnosed with ‘Petit Mal’ Epilepsy. Betty accomplished all of her duties as a mother with consummate ease.

Her son John’s illness got progressively worse and he had major brain surgery in 1965. Serious mental health problems developed from this operation. As if this were not enough her husband Walter was diagnosed with Manic Depression in 1968 and Betty’s resourcefulness was stretched to the limit.

Walter passed away in 1975 and her son John died of a massive heart attack and seizure in 1980. Resolute as ever Betty saw both events as a blessing to relieve the suffering of people she loved very much and it strengthened her faith in God.

Betty then embarked on the next stage of her life as an independent mature woman determined to make the best of her lot. She moved to Waterlooville in 1982 to be near her daughter Bunny who had two young boys and help her to bring up her grandchildren. She very soon joined St George’s and sat next to Jean Brice (deceased) whom she built up a close friendship with by exchanging letters most weeks. Her grandchildren grew up with the benefit of her experience and counsel and both Andrew and Russell were devoted to her up to her passing.

At the age of 97 whilst out completing her daily walk she fell over and required emergency surgery and a partial hip replacement. Determined as ever to get back on her feet she amazed doctors with the speed of her recovery. Her family rallied round to help with her recuperation and they had the benefit of spending quality time with her before her demise two years later in January this year. She was admitted to hospital on New Year’s Day and following a short illness passed away peacefully in the presence of her son Gerald.

Betty is survived by three children and four grandchildren and will be much missed by all who came into contact with her.  

Easter Edition 2012

Elizabeth Bird (Betty) Bishop, 1912-2012