About three years ago I put together a small book entitled ‘Portrait of A Village’ based on the Norton in Hales Women’s Institute Scrapbook. As I went through the Scrapbook I was surprised at how many times the name of Mary Keay was mentioned in connection with a multiplicity of village activities..
Mary was herself an institution associated with village undertakings as diverse as rebuilding the Village Hall and member of the village cricket team. I was sure she would live to a hundred, thus reaching the century she never scored at cricket! But sadly, it was not to be and when I heard she had been taken into hospital I knew the game was up.
I first met Mary in 1939 when I arrived at Norton in Hales as a wartime evacuee from Manchester. Shortly after, my brothers and I went to church in the village where, with my brother Albert I joined the church choir of which Mary was a member and her mother was Organist and Choir Mistress.
In those far off days everyone knew everyone else in the village and most knew Mary’s father and their collie dog Rover, who was as much a part of the community as everyone else. Before going to the Grammar School in Market Drayton, Mary attended the village school where her grandfather Mr.Chadwick, was Headmaster.
Among the multiplicity of organisations she was associated with were – Dr.Barnado’s Secretary of the Village Hall, member of the Tennis Club and Member of the Village Bowls Team to name but a few. No wonder she said ‘I really enjoy working for Norton’, she was a part of its fabric.
She will be missed! Oh yes, she will surely be missed, but our loss may be Heaven’s gain. On behalf of myself and all who had the good fortune to know her I here quote a passage adapted from Cardinal Newman’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’
‘Farewell, but not forever Mary dear, Be brave and patient on your bed of sorrow; Swiftly shall pass the night of trial here, And I will come and wake you on the morrow.’