Val passed away on Monday 9th July 2001.
She had developed a blood infection from her foot which was due to peripheral oedema which was due to pulmonary hypertension. The doctors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital tried everything they could to stop the infection, but Val had little reserve and she had heart failure on Monday morning. She was heavily sedated and felt no pain.
A service was held at St James Church in Wollaston (near Stourbridge) on 19th July at 12:45. She was later cremated and interned at Stourbridge Crematorium.
This tribute was written by myself and Val's family. It was read by Andy Chance-Hill.
Val was an exceptional person.
Bit of a tomboy, always hanging upside down from something or swinging as high as she could on the swings. She was always scaring the park keeper.
Ballet and Dancing
Val loved dancing, she was a ballet student for most of her childhood. She was a gifted ballet dancer and would have continued into a career if it weren’t for her illness. She was accepted by the Royal Ballet School in London but couldn’t go because of kidney failure. She was never bitter though. Val later became a friend of the Birmingham Royal Ballet and would attend most performances at the Birmingham Hippodrome. She even worked there as a volunteer for a while. Many of us will remember Val dancing at our wedding - long after most of us were exhausted. She even danced to ‘Staying Alive’ by the Bee Gees on holiday in Menorca 3 weeks ago after she recovered from a small emergency.
Animals and wildlife
Val loved animals. Even as a child, she was always bringing home sick animals to nurse them. She was like this all her life. Russ remembers having to slam on the brakes many times to rescue a wandering dog or to see if an animal could be saved. Her favourite job of all time was working at the Oaks Veterinary hospital. Brian, one of the vets, recently commented that he was always amazed at how such a small thing like Val could carry such large animals. She would try everything to save an animal and would come home in tears if she lost just one pet. We ended up with quite a collection of our own. Val was always bringing home unwanted pets and at one point, we had 11 pets in a 2 bedroom house.
Gardening and plants
Most people know how passionate Val was about gardening and plants. Almost every weekend we would go to a garden centre somewhere, although we usually ended up at Ashwood nurseries. She even went to Gardeners World Live at the NEC the day before our holiday – she was determined not to miss it. In fact she only missed the show twice. I was always amazed how she knew the Latin name for every plant, but could never remember left from right. She loved plants and got very excited about finding a new plant or a good soil. She went to college for a couple of years and then onto Birmingham University to learn horticulture. She would come home excited after learning about plant cells and different types of soil and then proceed to tell me in detail.
She also had a habit of forgetting where she was going to, especially with her sister Debbie. They would be talking that much about gardening that they often ended up lost. Last year Val and Debbie went around the Wolverhampton ring road 3 times on the way to David Austen roses. They only realised when they passed the Molineux for the third time.
Val was always very artistic. She loved buying presents and would take great care in wrapping presents and writing cards. She would often draw a little flower on the card or the envelope. She also loved music, ranging from classical to motown. She could play classical music on the piano and would practice Chopin whenever she could. She also loved to sing and knew all the words to some of the most obscure songs, including all the nursery rhymes.
Val loved children and children loved her. She could remember all the childrens names and often how old they were. Children would always take to her straight away. She had such a lovely smile, that they trusted her immediately.
Many people have said to me recently that the last 14 years were the happiest they had ever seen her. I always thought how lucky I was to have met Val. We loved each other deeply and would miss each other even for a few hours. She was my soul mate and we just fitted together, almost from the day we met. She always guided me and was always there to comfort me and cheer me up. She always made me happy. Some people think I looked after Val, but I always thought that Val was looking after me. She taught me so many things and made me a better person.
Our wedding day was the most fantastic day of my life. She looked so beautiful.
How can I describe Val?
Gentle, forgiving, full of love and kindness, selfless – always putting others before herself, graceful, very strong willed, always brave, never forgot a birthday, never complained, never angry, very caring, loved life, always smiling.
Val had so many friends and she would have been very pleased that so many of her friends are here today. She would have wanted us to fill our days with happiness
Val touched everyone’s heart. She was an exceptional person and was loved by so many people. She was a gift. She will be greatly missed by us all.