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Dinah van der Werf (nee Ashby) 2007
Ode to a Rock Angel

Grace Ashby 1915-2006.

A tiny child, the last of seven, another little mouth to be fed,
Grace grew into a lively girl; hard-working too it must be said.

A cheery personality who enjoyed a light-hearted joke,
Quick-witted and effervescent, her laughing eyes could provoke.
Always busy and energetic, Grace was no mild house-wife,
She was a gregarious lady, well suited to business life.

The talents Grace had were many. She loved music, dancing and to sing.
Given hammer and nails and a piece of wood, she would tackle anything.
Grace was good at skittles and darts, relaxing with Eric at the end of day,
She liked a game of cribbage or cards; with her grandsons she would play.

Unable to sit idle, Grace could crochet, sew or knit,
While charities and family would always benefit.
She loved to be in a garden, tending the plants as they grew.
She loved the British garden birds and grieved there are now so few.

Her friends and family will remember that Grace was a jolly good cook.
And a favourite place was the library; she enjoyed a cowboy book.
But the years eventually took their toll and life became a chore.
With strength and independence gone, she wanted life no more.

Grace surely was a special one.
I miss her now. I miss the fun.

Dinah Ashby van der Werf. 2007. (Another Rock Angel).

Mrs. Grace Ashby, was the widow of master-butcher Eric Ashby. She and her elder daughter Dinah were both born in Cromwell Rd. Rushden, an area known as The Rock.

This is from a typescript found in 2023 amongst some memories of the bombs in Rushden, possibly for a reunion 1998. Presumably by the same lady?

Further memories from a Rock Angel

Grace Ashby

Before this "rock angel" gets much older I have one or two stories still to tell.

I must have been about 10 or 11 years old when I used to go around some of the houses each week to see if they wanted anything on strap. If they would like tea towels or tablecloths or anything from Mrs. Murden, who ran a shop from her front room, I would tell her what the ladies wanted and then deliver it and they would give me sixpence a week for Mrs Murden. I liked it for a while.

There were 5 girls and 2 boys in our family. The boys settled up the Rock as I did and my sister Mable. Olive the oldest girl married C. Norris. I was watching these beautiful children singing on "Songs of Praise" when I was reminded of my sister Nellie singing at The Albert Hall. How must she have felt? I know she wasn't very old but she came second and I think her prize was some lessons under a gentleman from Rushden (I've got his photo and name somewhere). Nellie married a Grant from Higham Ferrers (transport people), not bad for Rock Angels.

Now I will tell you about my clever "angels". After the war "blue eyes" came back and his brother asked him to go into partnership with his shop in Herriotts Lane in Wellingborough. I wasn't happy but that's life. The girls went to Park Street School. The years went by and we took over a pub at Sandy called “The King's Arms” so the girls went to Stratton School. I kept in touch with my old school friend, Chrissy Watkinson who went to New Zealand at the time when you could go for £10. I so wanted to go but "old blue eyes" would not budge. The girls loved painting and poems so as the years rolled by Dinah went to New Zealand to see my old pal and ended up in South Africa, Eileen’s in Bromham, Bedfordshire. One paints in oils and one in watercolours.

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