‘Anything but ordinary’ – friends, family and admirers say farewell to Peggy Cole

Hundreds of people joined together to celebrate the life of Peggy Cole at St Mary's Church in Woodbr

Hundreds of people joined together to celebrate the life of Peggy Cole at St Mary's Church in Woodbridge, on Tuesday 16th February. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

“To spend time with Peggy was to spend time in the presence of goodness”.

Peggy Cole in her garden

Peggy Cole in her garden

A sentiment recognised by the scores of family, friends and admirers, who gathered for a celebration of Peggy Cole’s life yesterday.

Revd Canon Clare Sanders opened the service at St Mary’s Church, in Woodbridge, on a day she said Peggy would have rejoiced in – one of blue skies, crisp air and early blooming daffodils.

The star of 1974 film Akenfield, who died aged 80 on January 8, evidently played a big role in putting her own service together. In the words of her granddaughter, Sarah, she “loved a good funeral”, and left very clear instructions for the order of service.

Old friend, Roy Tricker said Peggy was a woman of faith who radiated love and warmth to thousands and was “totally in tune with creation – enjoying it, respecting it, and managing her little bit of it amazingly”.

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“Our Peggy,” he said. “Who I have been privileged to have known – and hugged – for more than half my life, is, was and always will be a very special girl.

He added: “Peggy was as straight as a die. What you saw was what you got.”

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Terry Hunt, editor of the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star, for which Peggy was a long-time columnist, said: “There is a rather sad gap in the newspaper which I, as editor, can never hope to fill – the place Peggy’s column occupied with such distinction for 30 years or more.

“Every column was bursting with wise words and advice. Many recalled Suffolk in days gone by.”

Mr Hunt said he had revisited the archives following Peggy’s death and discovered lessons including the best way to store onions, which according to Peggy was to “save your old tights and put your onions in them”.

He said Peggy’s love of nostalgia was coupled with an appreciation of the modern world, and that she summed up the EADT’s ‘Suffolk and Proud’ motto.

“She exemplified the very best of Suffolk,” he said. “No fuss, no drama, no bother.

“She would say she was nothing but an ordinary country girl. She was, of course, anything but. Peggy wasn’t ordinary – she was extraordinary.”

Grandson, Russell Cole read from the 17th Century Nun’s Prayer, which includes the fitting line: “Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details – give me wings to get to the point.”

The reading was followed by son David’s fondest memories of Peggy and a look back at the most significant years of her life, which included receiving the MBE for services to the community from The Queen in 1993 and welcoming Princess Margaret into her Charsfield home in 1984.

“Thanks for everything,” he said. “You were a wonderful mother, and more than two sons could have ever asked for. You may be gone, but you’re not forgotten.”

On behalf of Peggy’s five grandchildren, Sarah Cole recalled a string of amusing stories from her childhood, and celebrated her grandmother’s competitive nature, which produced entertaining memories of family potato growing competitions and contests over Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit, including the time she was asked to name the second-largest archipelago in the world and replied: “Bawdsey”.

During yesterday’s service, Roy Tricker quoted the words written on a sign in Peggy’s garden, and taken from Dorothy Frances Gurney poem, God’s Garden:

“The kiss of the sun for pardon, The song of the birds for mirth, One is nearer God’s Heart in a garden, Than anywhere else on Earth.”

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