The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


Stella went on to study at Whitchurch High School for Girls where she studied the piano with the inspired Miss McDonald, and organ with Alan Veening. She also played in a girl’s skiffle group called “The Worried Men.”

After school Stella went to Homerton Teacher Training College in Cambridge and then she was awarded a free year’s study as an accompanist and repetiteur  (repetitor) at the Guildhall College of Music in London.

A few years ago Stella wrote in a book her list of Iconic moments: here are some of them:

Teaching her first school class.

Passing her driving test - although I remember well the day she got caught speeding on her way to West Leigh.

The leaking roof of her bedroom when on holiday as a child in Blackpool and seeing Cliff Richard outside the theatre at Blackpool in the 1950’s.  

Singing in King’s College Cambridge in the 1960’s when David Willcocks was the conductor - particularly Verdi’s  Requiem;   Missa Solemnis and the Tallis work “Spem in Alium”

And a more recent iconic moment was meeting and accompanying the internationally acclaimed Mezzo Soprano Elizabeth Bainbridge.

And, of course, meeting her husband Rod.

Once Stella married Rod she travelled with him in his career with the Royal Marines Band Service. But most important to her was the love and education of her sons Christopher and Stuart. She would never move to a new appointment until the end of the School year. This was very much to the annoyance of the staff at Dartmouth Naval College.

Whilst at Dartmouth she notes in her “Iconic Moments” accompanying the Dartmouth Choral Society and playing Durufle’s Requiem on solo organ.  

Stella taught at schools in Dartmouth and in Emsworth and she accompanied students for examinations. Lots of students and children in both Deal and here owe great thanks to Stella for helping them.

Stella accompanied the Portsmouth Chorus for nearly twenty years and also Hayling Choir for ten. She was organist at St. Alban’s Church in West Leigh, and a highlight of her time there was accompanying St. Alban’s Choir and Band on the organ of Portsmouth Cathedral for a Sunday service.

Later she played at St. Peter’s Church in Southsea and was then invited to become Organist and Musical Director at St. George’s Church, Waterlooville.  Stella said that in Waterlooville she felt totally happy and fulfilled.

Stella loved people. She was always laughing and smiling. She was a very talented woman with that X factor. She could see through most people and she was a lady of firm views and stoical in the face of adversity. She has suffered a lot over the last few years but she never once complained.  She had a kind heart and loved to be with Rod, Christopher and Stuart, along with James and Sarah and her grand children Joshua, Thomas, Samuel and Jessica.

As Rod says, Stella was beautiful, strong, clever, loving and much loved.

She will be deeply missed.

Fr Mike Sheffield

Christmas Edition 2014

Stella Margaret Starr, 1946 - 2014

Stella was born on the 16th April 1946 in Berrington, Shropshire.  

A lady in the next bed to Stella’s mother said “I’ve got a boy, what have you got?”. Stella’s mother replied, “They gave me a wench”. And what a wonderful “Wench” she became.

Stella lived and was brought up in the market town of Wem, in the beautiful plains of Shropshire.  Her mother, Ida, was a pianist and her father, Jaybez, played the violin, so from the outset the musical dye was cast.

An only child Stella was named after the Hymn tune “Stella” and in the Redemption Hymnal  the title of the Hymn is “All things are possible.” - and indeed all things were possible to Stella.

She went to the local school where she thrived in all subjects. She did things the Stella way and from the outset she demonstrated that her judgment was balanced and well thought out.

She studied piano, cello and flute with local teachers where she began to shine as a pianist. She had perfect pitch and was able to pick up and play tunes with ease and confidence.  

As a child she played for the local Sunday School and when she became bored with the same round of hymns she vamped them up to make them more interesting. At that time her Grandfather was a lay preacher and he often added extra verses to the hymns without telling Stella. She learnt very quickly to adapt.