Clitheroe nursery matron dies aged 101

Obit Mabel Cunliffe
Obit Mabel Cunliffe

A WELL-RESPECTED former matron of the Bright Street Day Nursery, Clitheroe, has died – at the grand old age of 101.

Loved ones and friends gathered at Ribchester Parish Church last Friday (April 20th) for the funeral service for Mrs Mabel Cunliffe, formerly of Park Avenue, Clitheroe.

Born in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, on April 25th, 1910, to Ernest and Alice Barker, Mabel attended Sunday School at her local parish church – the beginning of a lifetime’s churchgoing.

Once a year, the parish held a service at Rievaulx Abbey, a good walk for Mabel and her mother there and back.

She passed the test for entry into the local grammar school, but the family could not afford the uniform or train fares, so she stayed on locally until the age of 14, when she could enter domestic service.

Her first placement was as a companion for a farmer’s wife, and she enjoyed the perks that came with it, including a scoop of cream when she passed through the dairy.

Her next post was with the family of a Methodist minister, who eventually moved to London, taking her with them.

But wherever Mabel moved to for the rest of her life, she always found a church and settled in.

Through the church in London she met a trainee nurse who suggested Mabel should apply too.

She trained at St Andrew’s Hospital, East London, and was one of the few to continue her training through nursing and midwifery.

In 1936, she applied for and got a job at a maternity home in Leigh, Lancashire.

She soon met her future husband, Oswald Cunliffe, a policeman, and the couple married on July 27th, 1940.

Their son, Colin, was born a year later, but he saw little of his father, who served in the Royal Corps of Signals from 1943, and was posted to the Far East.

In 1966, Oswald died, while Colin had joined the Army and later the fire service.

Mabel moved to Clitheroe to take up a post of Matron at Bright Street Day Nursery, Clitheroe, where she worked until retirement.

She joined Clitheroe Parish Church, and her other activities included membership of the Townswomen’s Guild where she became treasurer, Clitheroe Gardening Club and, later, The Pendle Club.

She enjoyed an active and social life and also kept fit by walking four miles from Clitheroe to Waddington and then West Bradford.

She then moved to Ribchester and became involved with the church and village life, especially Ribchester Field Day.

Later she moved to Belmont in Longridge, where last year she celebrated her 100th birthday and was delighted to receive a card from Her Majesty, The Queen.