CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Mary Talbot, dinner lady who had a special bond with primary schools

Mary Talbot worked at Camden primary schools

06 December, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

Mary Talbot 

At her 100th birthday party, Mary Talbot received a book of photo memories, compiled by people who remembered her when she worked at their primary schools.

It underlined the special relationships that has lasted for years.

Mary, who has died aged 101, had worked as a dinner lady and then a teaching assistant at Brecknock and Our Lady’s primary schools in Camden Town.

“Her relationship with the teachers lasted for years,” said Philomena Talbot, Mary’s daughter.

The 100th birthday celebration saw 100 family members and friends turn out for a party at the London Irish Centre, where Mary was a regular visitor in her retirement.

Mary celebrates 100th with family and friends[/caption]

“One of her funny moments was when she appeared on TV at the Roundhouse, where Ruby Wax had her show,” said Philomena.

“She asked my mother ‘how do you keep fit?’ and my mother jumped up from her chair and wiggled her hips and bottom to show her exercise.

“Unbeknown to her this appeared on TV. A number of friends phoned wanting her autograph afterwards.”

Born in County Galway, Ireland, Mary came to England aged 18 and worked at a hospital during the Second World War where she assisted an operation to amputate a French soldier’s leg.

“She was the only Roman Catholic in the theatre so she had to hold the candle,” Philomena said. “It was a very frightening time for her, especially when the bombs were going off.”

Mary met husband Chrissti at an Irish dance hall after the war. They lived in St Paul’s Crescent, Camden Town, and had six children before moving to Agar Grove where Mary became a member of the residents’ committee.

She developed a love for art in her retirement and created artwork and silk cushions.

In later life Chrissti became disabled and Mary cared for him. Her son, Christopher, passed away six years ago from motor neurone disease.

“Mum was the centre of the family, keeping strong and brave when dealing and coping with the inevitable problems that arose,” said Philomena. “Even when she went in a nursing home, she wanted to get out of bed and help people.

“She was very considerate and helpful.”

Mary passed away on October 27. Her funeral took place on Tuesday at Our Lady of Hal Church, Arlington Road.

She leaves behind children Maureen, Billy, Philomena, Eleanor and Peter.

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