The following obituary first appeared in the November 2007 issue of Meldreth Matters.
It was a great sadness to hear of the death of Doreen Ward of Fieldgate Nurseries last month. She had been unwell for some time, and passed away peacefully at home.
Doreen was born in Oakham and later lived in Windsor. She came to Meldreth in 1969 with her husband Arthur and their two sons. The move was a home-coming for Arthur which it was hoped would be an escape from the “rat race” of life in London, where he had been working for BEA at Heathrow. However, they never let up on work, for even on day one of their life in Meldreth they had the kitchen table out in the driveway, selling seedlings that they had propagated, making a grand tally of 2s 6d! From that day on the table, the barrow, the stall, and later a series of sheds and increasingly substantial retail premises became a very familiar and important part of the Meldreth scene. What was to have been an escape into quiet rural life became instead an increasingly busy and challenging business venture.
They first started with home grown produce, with polytunnels filled with tomatoes and flower seedlings. With, at one point, 27 goats to milk twice daily they were able to sell fresh organic goats milk – and of course their days were full! Doreen was incredibly hard working, and she and Arthur, joined later by Andrew and David, saw the shop grow in space, amount and variety of produce on sale, and recently the expansion into grocery and other goods.
Doreen will be remembered by so many people in Meldreth as a real “character”, whose quiet presence in the shop for many years helped to build the business up. Always friendly, never pushy or gossipy, she got to know her customers and won the respect of the village. She will be particularly remembered by so many youngsters – many of them not so young now – who worked part time, after school or during the holidays, helping in the back of the shop, the greenhouses or in the shop itself. I myself can tell of the kindness and patience of Doreen and Arthur as employers, and I regard it as a privilege to be able to pay this small tribute to a very special lady: indeed to a very special couple.
Meldreth has lost one of its great characters, the like of whom we are unlikely to meet again. Our sympathies are with David and Andrew, and the rest of the family, in their loss.