You may well have noticed within the last year or so that a bench has appeared on Western Avenue facing towards Green Court with a plaque “Rest Awhile”, and the initials “BJP”. Well, the mystery of who the donor was has been revealed: it was Betty Pamela Jones who, with typical modesty, gave the bench to the village without fuss or ceremony.
Sadly Betty died on the 17th of March. Having had a heart attack on the 27th of January and been hospitalised, she was well enough to return home in February and was still visiting the shop and Library bus when on the 17th she died peacefully at home in her sleep.
Betty was born in Gloucestershire on 13 June 1931. She had a sister, Anne. The family moved to Kent when she was young. There she met Arnold Jones, although everyone knew him as Chip, and they were married in Bridge Church in 1953. They had two children, Andrew and Elizabeth (Liz).
Betty worked for some years as a housekeeper for long term Bridge resident Joyce Lewis before moving on to spend many years as a secretary at the University. Chip worked for Finns, the Estate and Land Agents, mainly involved in collecting rents and charges at the cattle market.
After Liz grew up, she moved to New Zealand with her partner Neil and Andrew with his partner Lorna followed later. Betty was fortunate to travel to see her family on a couple of occasions.
Chip died after a struggle with a form of Parkinson’s in 2003 and sadly Liz died from cancer in 2007. This left a big hole in Betty’s life.
However, Betty loved knitting and cross-stitch and was an active member of the Knit and Natter group in Petham for many years until she had to give it up because of her failing eyesight. As a consequence, she turned to audio books which she borrowed regularly from the mobile library where she delighted in chatting to all the other attendees. Betty also was a regular of the Fish Scheme, attending the coffee mornings where she could catch up with friends and she especially enjoyed the annual lunch and outing. She was a keen gardener (she had been at one time secretary of the local gardening society – now the Nailbourne Horticultural Society) and found great pleasure in pottering around in her new garden shed.
Betty was a kind and generous lady who supported numerous charities and this same spirit led her to donate the bench to the village. True to her humble nature and never wanting any fuss, she never wanted to tell people about it, but it is a fitting tribute to one of Bridge’s good and thoughtful long-term residents.
Due to the Covid-19 problems, Betty’s funeral was a very quiet event with only a very few local friends there. The family could not return to the UK, but when travelling restrictions are lifted they will hold a memorial at Barham to which Betty’s friends will be invited.
Betty will be missed by all who knew her.