ADDRESS BY son-in-law MICHAEL RIBBINS at her funeral on 31st May 1996 at the Church of St Mary, Oatlands.
Today it is my honour to speak for the whole family. Thank you all for coming - we appreciate your love and support. It is especially appropriate that we come together at this sad time in this beautiful church which has been the centre of Yolande's spiritual life and for the family a place of worship, joy and sadness. In worship it has been the centre of Yolande's Christian life for over 50 years.
All of you will remember the joy that has been here - 3 baptisms and 3 weddings, including my own which I remember as a day of great happiness as well as a miracle of organisation. All went like clockwork, with real enjoyment all round even though John and Yolande had only very recently moved to a new house - in which we had our reception. The mother-in-law of popular myth would have been a nervous wreck -not Yolande. She was calm and, as always, welcomed every guest with her usual relaxed enthusiasm and good humour.
Today is, however, a sad occasion hosted in these well known surroundings. Yet if Yolande were now looking through my eyes she would delight in a congregation that has taken the time to show their love and respect for a very dear departed friend and that represents those most loved in her life - a life which was lived as a part of a large and extended family. Yolande was always proud of her family, past and present.
Her grandfather was the first holder of the Chichele Chair of Military History at All Soul's, Oxford. Her father was a brilliant historian who founded the faculty of history at Queen Mary's College, London. Her mother was an exceptionally active and intelligent person - an Oxford entrant at 17; a pioneer for women and a writer of pageants and poems. Her brother designed and built the first British formula I car to win a Grand Prix for 31 years. Yolande was educated at Guildford High School and St Mary’s Calne in Wiltshire. She worked as a nurse and for various magazines in London before meeting and marrying John in 1940. Above all she was a Christian and a home maker. She worked hard for the Church and the National Council for Women. Her family was, however, always the most important part of her life.
For me it has been a great experience to be a part of such a large and widespread family - all of whom, often through Yolande, keep in touch. The networking required to keep the family as a unit was always a high priority for Yolande - it must have been a very time consuming activity, yet she always made time - in fact it was a mystery to me how much time Yolande always seemed to find for others. Where did she find so much of it?
In fact to all close to her it was her selflessness that stood out as her most significant characteristic. To all around her - especially her near family - she would give unstintingly of that most precious of all commodities, her time. Never too busy to help, what she was doing always came second to a family member in need, whether this meant flying to Switzerland, a long tiring journey to Scotland, a visit to Leicestershire or a trip round the comer. She made us all feel special; a helping hand through difficult financial times; love and support in emotional crises; a quiet, good-humoured presence when needed. Her love and support were always available, helping us through stress and being there to share in our joy. Personally, I remember most her support with the children - whether arranging a much needed holiday or visits to Scotland to give us time to relax and to ensure we remained a part of her extended family. As one of her grandchildren put it ' I can never remember being unhappy when Granny was around '. But then she made each member of the family feel special - loved and cared for by a mother whose calm, unflustered and loving support was always available.
As others, I will always remember Yolande for sticking up for the underdog. Whilst she was never very assertive in her own defence, she would leap to defend anyone who was being put down. To each of her family when needed, and in very different ways, she would supply the love and support required to see them through any difficulty. The favourite was the person most in need now. Like all who spent time with her during the last few weeks I was impressed by her calm courage. Again, others were uppermost in her mind - she grieved only for the sadness of her friends and family and did all she could to put any visitor at ease in a difficult situation.
By all who knew her she will be remembered as a very remarkable lady - very Christian, the ultimate Good Samaritan; a selfless, available mother who was always a vital part of our lives.
Charlotte shared with me a thought which she found comforting - "Death is not the extinguishing of the light, but the putting out of the lamp because the dawn has come." I am sure that Yolande has met her dawn with her normal good humour and courage. Speaking for her family left in the lamplight, I say thank you for so many wonderful memories. Goodbye for now. We all miss you and will always remember you. Yolande - we love you.