On Friday 15th January we celebrated the life of Danica Kilby, a very much loved and respected lady. For many years Danny and her husband, Ralph, a well-known local preacher, were at the heart of activities at Ashley Methodist Church. Danny will be remembered for her warm and ready smile, her genuine interest in everyone. Her first question was always to enquire about one’s welfare.
Danny was born in Yugoslavia into a Roman Catholic family and grew up under a communist regime. The equal opportunities policy enabled her to graduate in Maths and Physics and she took up teaching. However, in 1956 she was reported for attending mass on Christmas Eve, dismissed and briefly imprisoned. In 1957 with just one suitcase she bade a tearful farewell to her family and left for England hoping to contact an English family she had met on the beach. They helped her to find voluntary work in a care home in Bedfordshire where she met Ralph. They fell in love, were married in 1958 and Danny became a British citizen.
Her degree from Zagreb University was recognised with an MA and she began to teach Maths in Bedford. At her memorial service we heard many messages from former pupils expressing gratitude for her care as well as her excellent teaching skills. She was also awarded a fellowship at New Hall, Cambridge.
With mathematical precision Danny and Ralph raised three daughters who each gave them three grandchildren later followed by great grandchildren all of whom adored her. Before the service we were able to see family photos covering her whole life displayed on our AV screens.
The Kilbys retired in 1990 moving to Staffordshire in 1999. Both were invited to a Queen’s garden party, Danny for services to teaching and Ralph for his social services work. They enjoyed many travels together particularly back to Croatia where they established and presented prizes for English and Maths at Danny’s old school.
Sadly in her later years Danny was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease eventually necessitating a move into a care home, at first together at Crispin Court in Stafford, then as her condition deteriorated she moved to the Methodist care home and Ralph took up residence with his daughter in Trentham visiting Danny regularly until covid prevented this. It was at this point that Ralph transferred his church membership to Trentham M.C. but Danny asked to be brought back to her beloved Ashley Chapel for her final rites. After the service she was buried at Standon Parish Church just up the road from where they had lived for many happy years in retirement.
Danny touched so many people through her teaching and charity work. She will be remembered for a heart filled with love, kindness and compassion, her courage, her disapproval of waste, her encouragement and expectation that people would do their best. Thank you, Danny, for the warmth and example you gave to all around you and for your generous gift to our church.
Service of thanksgiving 4th May 2021
On 4th May, limited by Covid rules, family and friends gathered to say farewell to a dear and loyal member of Ashley Methodist Church. Jean Salt was one of our longest serving members. She was born in Butterton in September 1930, later moving to Dimsdale, and educated at Ellison Street Primary and Brownhills Grammar Schools. With her School Certificate she went on to Underwood Typing School in 1946. Evening classes at the Elms Catering College established a lifelong love and great skill for baking, much appreciated by all.
After working in the National Coal Board offices in Stoke in 1952 she married Percy who farmed at Cherry Tree Farm, Lordsley. After a short spell in a caravan they moved into the farmhouse and Jean devoted herself to being a farmer’s wife and then mother to Jenny and Dave. She established a very productive vegetable plot and glorious garden. The Salts forged lifelong friendships with local farmers. Percy was a good friend and neighbour, ready to help out at stressful times often before he was asked. Their kitchen, always open to hospitality, is remembered especially for their famous Pancake Day parties and hasty meals at haymaking time.
As her children grew more independent Jean started to work at local primary schools where she developed a talent for encouraging reluctant pupils and her musical skills were an added dimension. Later she was a receptionist at our local GP surgery particularly enjoying the baby clinics.
Music was an important part of life for Percy and Jean. Percy had a rich bass voice. They participated in many concerts with Ashley Voices and Music. Jean played the piano and organ regularly in chapel and later for very popular singalongs at Luncheon Club and Befrienders.
They gave so much of their time and talents to our church. Jean served for many years as a Junior Church teacher and accompanist. As a church steward many have commented on the warmth and sincerity of Percy’s welcome to newcomers which directly influenced several members to join our church. The Salt’s home regularly hosted social gatherings after evening service. During the fundraising campaign to develop our premises their farm was the venue for an It’s a Knockout day, attended by many from the Newcastle circuit as well as locals including players and their families from Stoke City FC. Jean’s renowned cakes and pies also contributed to the fund and continued to provide delight at social functions and after services almost to the end of her life.
On retirement they moved to Loggerheads where Jean developed another beautiful garden. By this time they were adored and very involved grandparents. At Percy’s funeral in 2000 the church was packed. Valiantly Jean continued to work for those around her. Her raffles and cake stalls helped to raise funds for a bus for the Luncheon Club. She found joy in her great grandchildren and a big adventure was a visit with her sister to relatives in New Zealand.
Jean rarely missed a service at Wesleyan Road until infirmity prevented her. We miss her very much; her sense of humour, modesty, clear thinking and practical, caring efficiency. Our church would be a very different place without the contribution that she and Percy made over the years. We remember them with great affection, thankful that they are now together with the Lord they served so diligently.
1945 – 2020
Phil and Ken joined our church soon after they settled in Mucklestone in 2014 and have been active members from the beginning. Ken was a retired accountant so it was not long before we sought his skills as our treasurer. Typically he agreed immediately and we soon came to appreciate his clear and succinct reports peppered with his characteristic wry comments. His deep Christian faith, wisdom, clear-sightedness and humour brought many benefits to our church leadership team. Ken also served us efficiently and cheerfully as a church steward. He and Phil have been inspirational members of the fundraising committee for our new organ and AV system and contributed much value to our Bible study fellowship discussions.
In 2020, they celebrated fifty years of happy and devoted companionship in marriage. They had planned to hold a great party for all their many friends but Covid 19 put a stop to that. They were lucky enough to enjoy the holiday of a lifetime in India just before we were all locked down and before the disease hit that part of the world.
A great deal of loving care was invested in their charming cottage where a warm welcome was always assured. Ken kept a well-stocked wine store which he enjoyed sharing with his guests. Phil can be guaranteed to provide an excellent meal in accompaniment. Over the summer, Ken used his time in lockdown to repave their wide patio and paths. This delightful garden has given them great pleasure, a lovely backdrop for entertaining friends to outdoor suppers.
Ken was the sort of friend one could always ask for help, confident that if he possibly could he would, regardless of cost to himself in time or anything else. He will be greatly mourned by many in this neighbourhood and in their previous residences, Helsby, southern Spain and the home counties. We can be totally confident that he is now in the arms of his Saviour having been a good and faithful servant, an outstanding example of steadfast faith and Christian principles.
Samuel Frederick Jones (Fred)
who passed away on 17th August 2021 aged 98
Service of Thanksgiving for the life of at Ashley Methodist Church on Wednesday 8th September 2021
The church was filled with family, friends, and former work colleagues of Fred Jones, who was a central and much-loved father figure of the Marson family of our Methodist Church. Fred, a Yorkshireman, who from a background in the Yorkshire mining industry moved to Staffordshire with his family many years ago to work for Walkers Century Oils, Stoke on Trent, where he rose to become a Director of the company, representing the company throughout the world. Father of Pauline Marson, a stalwart of our Junior Church for over forty years, father-in-law of Peter Marson, grandad of Richard, Tracey and David and great grandpa to their children, Fred was loved by everyone because of his warm-hearted and generous nature, his sense of humour and his love of his family. The Service was conducted by the Rev’d Helen Kirk. Pauline Marson and her sister Anne Davies gave the Eulogy to their father and “Memories of Granddad” were given by Tracey Holland and her brothers Richard and David Marson. Cremation followed the service at Bradwell Crematorium, Newcastle under Lyme, with refreshments afterwards at Tern Hill Hall Hotel, Market Drayton.
“Memories of Granddad” by Tracey, Richard and David
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