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Ivy Underwood, the ‘local legend’ who could make everyone laugh

Family moved back from Australia - partly because Ivy missed her visits to the bingo

10 November, 2017 — By Helen Chapman

Ivy Underwood

IT was partly the bingo which brought Ivy Underwood back to the place where she spent nearly all her life.

The former factory worker and tea lady, who has died aged 83, emigrated with her family to Australia for two years in the 1960s as part of a Commonwealth scheme which encouraged people to move from the UK, paying just a £10 fare. The family stayed for two years before returning to their roots in Camden. Not only was Ivy put off by the heat and the creepy-crawlies, but she was missing her friends and the bingo sessions in Camden Town. She sometimes went twice a week.

Her daughter, Linda Green, described her as a “local legend”, who was known for helping people out. Ten years ago, a family with two children moved in next to her home in Doric Way, Euston, having arrived in the UK with no knowledge of English, so she helped the youngsters enrol in the nearest school. Ivy was born in the area, the youngest of five children. Known for having a sweet tooth, being particularly fond of Marks and Spencer toffees, she fell on her feet when she found work at a liquorice allsorts factory in King’s Cross. Later, she worked in a chocolate factory but her daughter joked: “She had to leave. She ate too much of the chocolate.”

She also worked in an office block in Tottenham Court road as a tea lady “before the days of vending machines,” added Linda. Her mother “would make everyone who came into the house laugh, whoever they were. Medical assistants or anyone else.” An accident on a bus in 2014 led to a broken pelvis but she still determinedly made it to bingo with the help of friends and family. According to her daughter, Ivy had been a “lady of leisure” during her marriage to husband, Terry Underwood, a painter and decorator who sang in clubs.

He once appeared on the Australian version of the New Faces talent show. They were married for 58 years; Terry died four years ago. Son Eddie, 55, lives in Australia with his wife and three children, Grace, Sophie and Henry. Ivy was also nan to Linda’s daughters, Beckie and Jodie.


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