Lady Farmers’ hats tribute to true matriarch

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THIRTY members of Lancashire NFU Lady Farmers lined up to form a guard of honour at the funeral of their former president, Lucy Wilkinson.

In keeping with her lifelong fashion tradition. all wore hats in a special tribute as the coffin was borne into St Wilfrid’s Church in Longridge by six of her seven grandsons.

The church – chosen because her own place of worship St Peter’s at Stonyhurst was closed for refurbishing – was full of those remembering an intrepid matriarch of both her large family and her Hurst Green community who never lost her enthusiasm for life.

In the eulogy, her son, Richard, the second of her seven children, remembered someone who made friends wherever she went. His mum had met the Queen twice, two popes and Rhodesia’s Ian Smith; she loved Ascot races and travelling on the Orient Express and the QE2; founded and organised local and county groups of such as the WI and YFC; and made lifelong friends in whatever country she visited from Portugal, Bulgaria and France to Canada, South Africa and the USA.

A gifted artist, she completed paintings for all her children and grandchildren and was also accomplished at pottery, needlework, embroidery. She designed and organised the construction of two family homes and went to evening classes to learn French and enhance her English.

Born Lucy Platt and the fifth of six sisters, she grew up at Dutton Hall in Ribchester and attended SS Peter and Paul School locally and Notre Dame in Blackburn.

Although further education was an ambition thwarted – but an intention passed on to all her successful children – she worked on the family farm until marriage to Harry Wilkinson in 1945 took her to his family farm, Foxfield in Hurst Green.

Village and community life was then a major part of her life as she helped to found Hurst Green WI following membership of the Mitton group, started Clitheroe NFU Lady Farmers Club’ with sister Annie in 1960, was president and county president of Lancashire NFU and, as the social secretary of the latter, for many years arranged trips and holidays for members.

A founder member and president of Hurst Green Bowling Club, she designed and was official opener of its new clubhouse, and as secretary of the village’s British Legion branch, helped to refurbish the cenotaph and twice attended the annual Remembrance Service at the Royal Albert Hall.

Mrs Wilkinson also started the Meals-on-Wheels service in Hurst Green, helped to organise the village open garden days and was a guide at Stonyhurst College.

“Lucy was great at asking people to do things, but it always brought the response ‘We’ll do it for Lucy.’ It’s the end of an era and we will all really miss her,” said Richard. Mrs Wilkinson, who was 87, is survived by her seven children, 24 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.