R.I.P. MONA TURNER
May 5th, 1925 - December 25th, 2012
To honour the memory of a dearly-loved member of the family of St Faith, we publish below the funeral address given by her son-in-law,
Fr Martin Jones, two tributes to her and a link to the order of service for January 9th, 2013, containing pictures of Mona at her wedding and
in later years.
May she rest in peace and rise in glory
Fr Martin Jones's funeral address, January 9th, 2013
We have come here today, to acknowledge the life of Mona Turner. We are here to recognise and to express grief and sorrow. But as well as being here to mourn, and it is right that we do so, we are also here to celebrate a life and to remember how Mona’s life touched the lives of those around her.
So Paul, Miriam (her children) and I (her son in law) have been remembering those times and we would like to share some of those memories with you today…
Mona was born in 1925 in Boswell Street, Bootle, the youngest of three girls. The family church was St Leonard’s Bootle, but Mona started going to St Faith’s aged five with her Auntie Lily, some 82 years ago, and enjoyed it so much she attended on her own from the age of 10.
Mona attended Rockcliffe College in Seaforth, run by the ‘Misses Pride’, her favourite subjects being history, English and all things drama, music and performance related. Acrobatic dancing was her forte and she was known to do cartwheels to ‘liven things up’ at varied church functions, right until she was into her late fifties.
Mona became a Sunday School teacher at the tender age of 16 and soon rose to Superintendent. Several of her ‘pupils’ obviously listened well and took their studies to heart, later being called to ordained ministry, some of whom are here today. During the war she worked in the munitions factory and later in Passmore’s in South Road and ‘The Bon Marche’ in Liverpool.
She married George in 1949 and enjoyed over 50 years of very happy marriage. Mona gave up work in 1953 when Paul was born and dedicated the rest of her long life to being wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, all of which she excelled at.
Since its dedication, St Faith’s has had 9 incumbents, Mona being a member of the congregation for the last seven – Reverends Brierley, Schofield, Hassall, Billington, Goodrich, Capper and Kelley – and she had been planning on attending Fr Simon’s induction this evening. As for curates, there have been many, a lot of whom Mona had a story about. Take the tale about Mark Way… at the time, the family had a black cat, whose trick was being able to use the door knocker when wanting to come in after his neighbourhood prowl. One evening there was a knock at the door, Mona’s mum opened it, looking down at the step, saying ‘come in, you little black divil’ and then saw the shoes, cassock, cloak and curate! Mona, apparently, was mortified.
Peter Cavanagh’s curacy was also memorable - Peter bought his mother an uncontrollable dog called Toby, which he vowed to ‘tame’. He then went away for a weekend and Mona agreed to look after said dog. All was fine until Toby decided whilst out one day that he’d had enough, didn’t fancy going any further, and Mona was seen walking along Stuart Road, carrying an Afghan hound! Interesting…
Mona also terrified some vicars and curates by telling them she had seen many clergy in a state of undress – this was, of course, due to her penchant for plays, revues and pantomimes. She herself played Principal Boy, then helped produce, provide costumes and make-up for productions in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Only a few years ago, whilst living at Homedove House, she played the role of ‘The Emperor’ in their production of Aladdin.
Mona’s contributions to life at St Faith’s have been many and varied over the years. She was a founder member and chairman of ‘The Horsfall Ladies’ (named after the church’s founder) – a wonderful group of ladies who met weekly, had serious, not so serious and downright fun nights of discussion and fellowship. The Horsfall Ladies (also affectionately known as The Donkey Drops) were usually responsible for catering for the many functions at St Faith’s and earned Mona the title of ‘Our Lady of the Teas.’
Following the death of husband George in 2000 and her sister Marie in 2002, Mona moved from Galloway Road to her flat in Homedove House. This proved to be a great decision. She made new friends, started a new hobby of card making, and with her famous knitting skills helped raise, along with other residents, thousands of pounds for charity – a different one each year, and mostly local.
This year’s charity is Riding for the Disabled in Crosby, a cause very close to Mona's heart – giving people independence was very important to her, and she did say that she had also been inspired by this summer’s Paralympics. Mona herself was very independent, right until the end. The weekly trips on the Sefton Helping Hands ‘Little Bus’ haves been a lifeline – going each week to Morrisons or Tesco to get her own shopping meant she didn’t and wouldn’t have to rely on anyone else.
Since my ordination, Mona has enjoyed ‘dual nationality’ of both St Faith’s and St Oswald’s Winwick. It is safe to say that her new church family adopted her very readily – testimony not only to St Oswald’s welcome, but also to Mona’s outgoing personality. Her knitting prowess also helped raise much needed funds for the St Oswald’s church roof fund.
To Miriam and Paul, she was not only a wonderful mother, but also a best friend, confidante and most of all, someone with whom to share a laugh, the odd rude joke and every other emotion possible.
Mona may have been elderly in years, but (like her own mother) she never thought of herself as old – ‘young at heart’ may be a cliché, but it is exactly the right description. Of course, like most parents, she did manage to embarrass her children at times – Miriam and Paul took her to see folk-rock group Fairport Convention (we said she was young at heart!) – imagine their faces at the interval to see their Mum holding the bass player’s pint for him while he signed autographs! Actually, they were probably jealous…
And of course, Mona was a wonderful grandmother to Josh and Ben, step-grandmother to Charlotte and David, and ‘Great-granny Mona’ to Charlotte’s four children. They all loved her very much.
For my part as her son-in-law, more than one person has said ‘we each have a Mona-shaped hole in our lives’ - that is true - and that her death heralds the end of an era - that is also I feel true – as at this time St Faith’s finds itself at the beginning of a new year and a new chapter with Fr. Simon.
But for me, amidst the pain of loss there is also a feeling of joy, the joy and privilege of having Mona in my life. We have recognised our pain and grief, we have celebrated the life of Mona and now we look forward in hope. Hope for healing, healing that allows us to live with our grief, healing that lets us love, smile at the good memories, cry and carry on. That’s the sort of healing that Fr. Colin told us about in our reading from Philippians (4:4-9) that for people who have a faith they can give every situation they experience to God finding in a returning relationship with God, a kind of peace in those everyday experiences.
Christians believe that death is not the end of what we are, that we move on to a different existence, one in which they perceive as whole. We are not whole here in our earthly life and we can only become whole when we are united with our loving heavenly Father.
Mona is now whole, resting in paradise.
Memories of Mona
On page 25 of Chris Price’s “A History of Saint Faith’s Church Crosby 1900 -1975” there is a pictures of a 1951 Mothering Sunday Procession in which Mona, holding a child’s hand in each of hers, can be seen in the vanguard of the Sunday School as they follow Fr. Hassall and servers, Raymond Clarke and Derek Clawson, around the church grounds in the traditional “clipping” ceremony.
As a teenage boy in the mid 1960s I can recall Fr Hassall telling me that it wasn’t long after his arrival as Parish priest in January 1948, that he conducted his first funeral service at St Faith’s, which was that of George Becton Turner, Mona’s father-in-law, and that subsequent to George’s death the Turner family had donated a gift of gates at the Kingsway entrance to the church.
Over a number of decades Mona was to be found at the heart of the life and worship of the church she loved. A gregarious, warm, welcoming and cheerful lady with an engaging smile and lovely sense of humour Mona endeared herself to young and old alike.
In the mid 1960s, when the St Faith’s branch of the Mothers’ Union was in a somewhat moribund state, Mona and Fr. Charles Billington’s wife, Heather, began a new organisation for the women of the parish, which they called the Horsfall Club. For many years Mona was the leading light of the popular club and besides fortnightly meetings, day excursions, parties and various other trips and events were a regular feature of the club’s social calendar.
On a personal level I shall always chuckle when I recall the various occasions upon which Mona took on the role of “dresser in chief” in order to facilitate my appearance “in drag” at one of the parish socials in the late 1960s and early 70s. In particular, my manifestation as a female Hawaiian native dancer at the 1970 St Patrick’s night party required all the skills at her disposal, as yet another of Fr. Charles’ initiatives was brought to fruition.
Mona could always be relied upon to enter into the spirit of an event and to give it her maximum commitment and effort. Over a number of years she was instrumental in galvanizing and encouraging the support that was needed for the success of the parish bazaar and she did so with characteristic energy and enthusiasm.
It was always a joy to chat to Mona in recent years and to share in her eightieth birthday celebration in the parish hall. With her death there is the end of an era at St Faith’s, for she was the last of those whose memory went back to the days of Canon Brierley and the church of the 1930s. Our dear sister in Christ will be remembered with much love and affection and our thoughts and prayers are with Miriam, Paul, Martin and all Mona’s loved ones. With her enjoyment of parties and her penchant for fun, one can imagine the popping of corks as Mona takes her seat at the heavenly banquet.
Fr Dennis Smith
I remember a very glamorous young woman with wonderful red hair, immaculate make up, sparkling nails. She was power dressed in smart two piece suits that were the height of fashion. I also remember her a being very strict as well, and she was a woman with authority. Of course I wouldn't have put it like this when I was in the little Sunday School. There were other teachers I can also remember, but they didn't have the look or authority of Mona. No wonder she started off so many priests with her teaching ! We sang "pennies dropping, pennies dropping" for our collection, listened to stories and had out own teachers' pantomime. I have a special memory of "Babes in the Wood".
I remember asking her earlier last year about this wondrous list of priests she had set on the road of faith. Had she ever made a list ? No! She hadn't. I don't suppose for a minute she even thought of it after I had asked her. She had simply and faithfully done her job. Like so many people at St. Faith's she just got on with it. She told that after she was widowed, she moved his chair so that it wasn't there, empty as a painful reminder. Very practical as well as thoughtful.
Thank you Mona for a dedicated life of service in good faith, at St. Faith's.
Fr Colin Oxenforth
The Order of Service for Mona's funeral