One of the founders of Spalding branch of Age Concern died at her home in the town on Friday, five days after reaching her 90th birthday.
Audrey Ilsley and husband Gerald, who passed away in May aged 93, were retired from education when they set about creating the branch and sourcing funds for the charity’s building in The Meadows.
Their personal partnership had lasted an amazing 72 years from the day they met at a dance in Audrey’s then home town of Rhyl when she was just 17.
Gerald spotted Audrey across the room but only just in time. Daughter Jane Pincott said: “It was the last dance of the evening.”
They married in 1946 and ten years later moved to Moulton Chapel when Gerald secured his first headship at the village school.
The couple were considered glamorous then, Gerald handsome and Audrey very pretty and elegant, but it was their willingness to get involved in community life that made them stand out from the crowd.
Jane said: “Their modus operandi was one of service. Their faith or belief system was that self is second and that you are there to serve. That was the guiding principle in my family.”
Audrey had a tough start in life. Jane says: “She was born in Liverpool and sadly lost her father when she was five and a few months later lost her little brother.”
Gerald became head at Spalding’s Westlode Street School in 1968 and Audrey was his secretary, playing a key role in pastoral life.
Ken Bush, Gerald’s former deputy at Westlode Street School and later head of St John’s Primary, told Jane: “There are many of us (ex Westlode Street) who owe a great debt to your parents, who seemed to complement each other – your Dad was the driving force behind the professional side of each member of staff, and your Mum was very much the mother figure to us all in the staff room, recognising and supporting the personal and family side of each person.”
In Moulton Chapel, the Ilsleys hosted the village Bonfire Night celebrations in front of the school. They were also heavily involved in the life of the Methodist Chapel and Audrey was active in the WI.
After their move to Spalding, it was St Thomas’s Road Methodist Church that came to mean so much to them, and Audrey was a flower arranger there.
One of Audrey’s proudest moments came when Gerald was awarded the MBE for his work for Age Concern, now Age UK. “Mum and some of the workers were invited to the Queen’s garden party and that was in reference to their work together,” said Jane.
Audrey also leaves family including son Chris, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
• Audrey’s funeral takes place at South Lincolnshire Crematorium at 11am on Monday, February 12, followed by a gathering at The Woodlands Hotel. Donations if desired are for Age UK.