Obituary – Miss Elizabeth Downing,

Helston Helston Methodist Church was the setting for the funeral service of one of its oldest and most stalwart members, Miss Elizabeth Downing, aged 97, the Rev. Beverly Turner officiating.

The organist was Mr. Nigel Dower.

Born in a cottage at 103 Meneage Street, which no longer exists, Elizabeth was the fourth child of Richard and Mabel Downing. Although part of a large family, Elizabeth is survived by just one brother, Hubert.

She attended the Wesleyan Day School in Helston. Her father worked in a leather shop in Meneage Street, but possibly due to the slump in the 1920s, he found himself out of work. The family moved around West Cornwall while he found work here and there on smallholdings and farm labouring.

There were now eight children in the family, but the two eldest were working away from home. Elizabeth's eldest brother joined the Navy at the age of fifteen, eventually rising to become 2nd Lieutenant.

Their father became ill while they were living in a tied cottage, and when he was no longer able to work, they were turned out into the farmyard with their possessions. The family had to split up and stay with different relatives. Elizabeth went to live with an aunt and her elderly father,, who was then about 90 years of age. She would have been around ten or twelve years old.

Eventually her parents got a cottage at Nancegollan and Elizabeth attended school at Sithney.

She left school at the age of fourteen, to work in the village shop as an assistant. Whilst there, she learned to drive so that she could deliver the groceries. Elizabeth gave up driving at the age of ninety!

She was called up in 1940, and spent the next five years in the ATS. For the next two or three years from joining, Elizabeth was a driver at Penhale Camp, near Perranporth. Then she was moved to Truro, where she became a Corporal. Upon discharge at the end of the war, she had to find work, and applied to a children's nursery in Penzance, looking after under-fives. She loved her work there, but later applied for a more permanent career in nursing. She applied for training at Greenbank Road in Plymouth, and was accepted, despite having so little formal education. She spent three years training and became a State Registered Nurse (RGN today). She particularly loved working on the children's ward. Later, she travelled to London to train as a midwife, then returned to Plymouth spending six months cycling the district round, then qualifying as a SCM.

She then went to work at the West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance, but it was a small unit and not busy enough for Elizabeth. She did a short spell in private nursing, then went to Tehidy Hospital for five and a half years working for the British Tuberculosis Association. TB was rampant at that time, and Elizabeth spent both sad and happy times looking after the children afflicted with this disease.

Later, she moved to Helston's Meneage Hospital, where both she and Joan, her partner, worked.

After a time, she applied for a post as Night Sister at the then Cottage Hospital where she spent the next thirteen years up until retirement.

Together with Joan,, Elizabeth enjoyed many holidays abroad, travelling to hot countries when it was winter here. They went to Tenerife, Spain, America and Ireland.

Elizabeth loved nature, birds and gardening. She enjoyed knitting, scrabble, jigsaws and puzzles.

She loved her home, family and friends and gave thanks for them. Elizabeth loved being a member of the Wesleyan Chapel in Helston, and worked hard, with others, to raise funds during the renovations over twenty years ago. She collected dolls and dressed them, washed and spruced up old teddy bears for sale in the charity shops the Chapel had whilst the building works were underway.

Towards the end of the service, Miss Joan Williams sang a solo of “God Be In My Head” which everyone present found very moving.

Her close friend Joan looked after Elizabeth for as long as she could, then Elizabeth spent the last four months of her life at Poldhu Nursing Home, where the care was exemplary.

Elizabeth's four great nephews acted as Bearers: David and Mark Pollard, and David and Mark Buckingham.

Family Mourners: Miss Joan Mayne, close friend; Mr. and Mrs. G. Sullivan, Mr. and Mrs. C. Hawksworth, Mrs. V. Moyse, Mrs. A. Pollard, Mr. and Mrs. R. Moreton, nieces; Mr. and Mrs. R. Downing, Mr. and Mrs. R. Ralph, Mr. K. Buckingham, nephews; Mrs. C. Barber representing Malcolm Barber, nephew; Mr. D. Buckingham, Mrs. C. Campbell, Mrs. L. Turner, Mr. T. Sullivan, Mrs. S. Ward, Mrs. L. Middleton, Mr. and Mrs. T. Spink, Mr. & Nmrs. R. Brady, Suzanne Ralph, great-nieces and great-nephews; Tamsin Campbell, Matthew Moreton, Hannah and Milan Ralph, Miss Samantha Barber, great-great-nieces and nephews.