Patricia Ruth James 1941 – 2015

Foxearth Church was full, with many people standing, on Thursday 1st October for the funeral of Mrs James – a deeply respected and much loved resident of the village for more than 50 years. Her service was conducted by Team Rector, Rev. Margaret King and cremation at the West Suffolk Crematorium followed. The church was resplendent with flowers reflecting Pat’s abiding interest in the countryside and nature. Musical tributes came in the form of piano and recorder  pieces by grandchildren Sophie and Freddie. Grandson Daniel described Pat’s creation of her beautiful wildflower meadow and the many open days held there which raised thousands of pounds for various charities including Marie Curie Cancer, EACH, Romanian gypsies and Foxearth church. The connection with the village community of Tileagd in Romania and how this led to many visits by Pat during which she gave valuable help with the development of craft work ,was explained more fully by Sophie .

In a moving eulogy, daughter Polly described Pat as the complete package; a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, cousin, teacher , friend – in fact all things to all people. Drawing upon some of Pat’s own written reminiscences Polly told us of Pat’s early life in her native Newmarket and the family’s moves to Mildenhall and Spalding as her father’s  career as a bank manager progressed. From her recollections of gardens, chickens and pigs, bees and fruit trees it is evident that Pat’s fascination with these things was instilled from an early age. After training as a Domestic Science Teacher, Pat taught at large schools in Hammersmith, Braintree  – and Halstead, where she was for 30 years, before moving on to a post at Highpoint Prison, Stradishall. Here her formidable cooking skills were extended to take in some of the spicy Carribean food beloved of some inmates.

The move to Foxearth came in the early 1960s as did marriage to Maurice and the arrival of son Ben and then Polly. The house – Bellybones – had a demolition order on it but Pat’s determination made it a welcoming family home and in 1987 work on the Wildflower Meadow began. Many hours of effort were contributed by Pat, her children and grandchildren caring for the cowslips, fritillaries, ox eye daisies, orchids etc. which blaze of colour was her pride and joy and which became so well  known and admired in the wider community.

Through the strength of constant community commitment she showed, Pat was an institution in Foxearth always being on hand to produce  gorgeous baking products for fetes, coffee mornings and many other events. Anything she tackled was always wholehearted and she was ever ready to share her expertise with those who sought it. She was an active member of the Womens’ Institute serving for many years as President. She was much in demand as a judge at local shows. When the time came she enthusiastically supported the villages’ Over 60s Club.

Pat’s friendliness, generosity and talents touched so many lives. One was always welcomed at Bellybones with a warm smile, an offer of refreshment and three boisterous dogs! The village will greatly miss Pat’s presence and we join the family in expressing our sadness in their loss.


Ken Nice

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