Yesterday I was in one of my old parishes, St Mary’s in Pirton, to attend a special thanksgiving service, followed by a party, for Kitty Howard’s 100th birthday. When I arrived in this quiet rural parish in Hertfordshire, almost 17 years ago, Kitty was already established as assistant to the parish priest on any visits to the large Bupa run nursing home in the neighbouring parish. She diligently packed the communion kit and on arrival greeted her old friends- some of whom were considerably younger than herself. She was always helpful and kind, and I gather that it was such facets of her character that made her small china business, in the nearby town, Hitchin, such a success!
Her generosity of spirit came out in her humbly expressed theological musings, such as her suggestion that Hell would be an untenanted place apart from the corner reserved for murderous dictators; although she was not absolutely sure of that either!
We only ever had one serious disagreement, which was very cordially negotiated; when the local primary school, where I was the community governor, wanted to divert the public footpath which ran through the middle of its playground to ensure the safety of the children, she objected.
In her opinion the dispute between the school and the conservatively minded locals such as herself, who regretted any changes to the village, could be resolved if the school would be content to build a bridge over the playground, allowing the children to play beneath while the walkers exercised their rights high above their heads. Alas her blue sky thinking did not win the day!