Audrey Joan Green
1st May 1930 – 12th October 2023
Address given at the Service of Thanksgiving for her Life
3rd November 2023
Audrey was born in St Albans in 1930, the eldest of four children. Twin brothers followed three years later (I followed much later – the afterthought!). She went to St Albans Girls’ Grammar School, eventually becoming Head Girl. Living through the Second World War as a teenager could not have been easy. Nevertheless, Audrey did well at school and aspired to go to university, but this was not to be. Our father told her that he could not afford to pay the fees for her as well as for her two brothers and they had to take priority. While understandable from a father born in the 1890s it was something Audrey always resented. She was not alone as a young woman in the 1940s and 50s when it was still assumed that men were the breadwinners and women the wives, mothers and homemakers. Listen, after this address, to Peggy Seeger singing “I’m gonna be an engineer”.
So, after studying science subjects at school, instead of university, Audrey went to work at the Building Research Station in Garston, some 4 and a half miles away, cycling there and back each day. This involved, amongst other things, work on the acoustic materials for the Royal Festival Hall, being built as part of the post-war Festival of Britain.
At the age of fifteen Audrey had met Donald at the St Albans Abbey Youth Fellowship but it was not until 1954 that they were able to marry, after Donald had completed National Service and University. I was their only bridesmaid.
Donald’s first post as a teacher was in Plymouth so Audrey had a change of career, working in the book shop of a Department Store. Always a great reader, she enjoyed the work because in quiet periods between customers she was able to sit in a corner and read one of the many books. She remembered having one customer who was looking for a book but couldn’t remember the title, or when she last saw it, but thought it was red!
After two years Audrey and Donald returned to St Albans where Jeremy (Jes) and Michael (Mick) were born. Like so many of her generation, Audrey became a full-time mother and homemaker and, after another move to Bromsgrove, their third child Elizabeth (Lizzie) was born. At primary school, when asked to describe their Mums, Mick wrote that: “she can drive a car and make marmalade”. Not all women drove in those days but she was a good homemaker as well!
As a youngster Audrey enjoyed holidays in the Lake District with her father and brothers, and that was where she and Donald had their honeymoon. A love of hill walking and the outdoors remained with her and was shared with the family. As Audrey and Donald’s family grew up there were many happy holidays. First of all in a static caravan in Wales, later in a series of motor caravans. I was not surprised that one of the readings suggested by Audrey for this service was Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
Only a few years ago, Audrey was able to go back to the Lake District, to stay in Keswick. Her enjoyment of walking, nearer to home, and for shorter distances, continued even when she first needed a “Walker” to help her. I remember visiting her two years ago. She decided we would go for a circular walk. So off we went Audrey leading the way pushing her Walker along the footpath by the brook, past Weavers Cottage until we met the road and then turning to go back down the road, down the hill. At this point I decided that I had better hang on to the Walker before Audrey took off!
As the children grew older, Audrey began to work for the CAB, (the Citizens Advice Bureau), first, I think, as a volunteer and later progressing to paid employment as the organiser of two bureaux. She believed that this was as much her Christian vocation as it was Donald’s to be a priest. She had a very clear sense of right and wrong; fairness was very much part of what was right and she put this into action in her work with the CAB as well as in everyday life and responses to world events.
Audrey embraced new technology with enthusiasm. Jeremy remembers her producing letters with very early word processors, and helping her (but not much!) to set up a database for parish electoral rolls. She struggled occasionally with the Sat Nav in her car, but then – who doesn’t?
When Audrey and Donald retired in 1990 they moved permanently to Knighton. They both enjoyed time spent with their children, their partners and their five grandchildren. A very special gathering in 2014 brought us all together to celebrate Audrey and Donald’s 60th wedding anniversary. More recently, and because it was during the Coved pandemic, we were able to celebrate Audrey’s 90th birthday on Zoom. She coped with this amazingly well, even talking to everyone separately in chat rooms. Lizzie was delighted that Audrey was also able to meet her grandson, and Audrey’s great-grandson, Cameron, in person last May, and as recently as September told her carer Deborah that she had waved to him on a video call!
Audrey was involved in a variety of roles here at St Edward’s over the years, some of them behind the scenes and in support of the clergy. She was in her eighties when she became a lay worship leader. It was a great delight to us both that on one Sunday in 2016 she led the morning service here and I preached the sermon. A strong advocate of ecumenism, Audrey was an active member of Churches Together in Knighton and District, for many years organising the annual Christian Aid collection.
Thank you to those of you who have supported Audrey over the last few years since Donald’s death and as her health gradually deteriorated. A particular thanks to her carers, especially Deborah and Roxy, and Mercy, her most recent night carer who was really helpful. Her carers not only enabled her to stay in her own home but took her out – to church and into the countryside, so that she was able to live life to the full as much as possible. When the time came, we give thanks that she died peacefully, still in familiar surroundings.
There is a piece of music that I haven’t mentioned yet: “To be a Pilgrim”. As a Christian pilgrim, Audrey’s faith was
intelligent, questioning, and searching.
I was struck by these recent words in a sermon by Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham: “Pilgrims do not hold onto easy answers but they hold onto God and trust that God will hold onto us.” Today we give thanks for Audrey’s life, and for her faith, and ask that God will hold onto her. In the words of the ancient Celtic Prayer we pray:
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand. Amen.
The Venerable Christine Allsopp
(Audrey’s sister, Chris)