Tributes paid to 'ardent and devoted supporter' of Trimley St Martin

Rosemary Gitsham, photo taken in June 2018, when she returned to her family home

Rosemary Gitsham was the Trimley St Martin village recorder for thirty years - Credit: Elizabeth Rastrick

Friends and family of Rosemary Gitsham, Trimley St Martin's village recorder for 30 years, have paid tribute to a "lovable and irreplaceable companion". 

Rosemary Mutton was born on January 25, 1935 in Wimbledon, but lived in Trimley St Martin until the outbreak of war. Her father, a Flight Sergent in the RAF, was posted to a number of locations in the UK - Andover, Bicester, Silloth and Chester - but the family returned to their Trimley bungalow in 1944. 

She studied at Ipswich High School on a scholarship and in 1953 proceeded to join a secretarial course at a South Kensington college, keen to forge a career. 

Rosemary's ambition to be an air hostess was not to be - she said her need for glasses held her back - but she took work in the typing pool for British European Airways in 1955.

She worked as a secretary in various parts of the company, including for the sales training superintendent and the superintendent for West London Air Terminal. 

She met her future husband, Eric Gitsham while ice skating at Bayswater when he told her she was "doing it all wrong" and they married at All Saints Church in Fulham in 1959.

The Gitshams were married in Fulham in 1959

Rosemary Gitsham and her husband, Eric, on their wedding day in 1959 - Credit: Supplied

She left British European Airways in 1966, before the privatisation formed British Airways as it is known today, and her husband lost his job in 1972 after suffering a heart attack. 

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In her own writings, Rosemary said of that time in their lives: "At that time we were into self-sufficiency (even experimenting with solar panels) so we got an allotment and grew as much of our own food as we could." 

She even wrote an article entitled 'self-sufficiency in suburbia' which was published in a magazine called Value Today, prompting her to quip: "I like to think that Eric and I were the couple who inspired the writers of The Good Life, which came out about that time, but have never been able to prove it." 

She and Eric bought one of the 36ft lifeboats from the Queen Mary and went adventuring, taking it up the Grand Union Canal and down the Thames to Holehaven. Rosemary got involved in the upkeep, learning to cut metal plates, weld and paint. 

In 1977 they moved back to Rosemary's family home, but much had changed. She got involved in the community in order to meet more people, joining the Felixstowe Family History Society and becoming the Local History Recorder for the village. 

Her successor in that role, Liz Rastrick, said Rosemary was "full of curiosity for the world around her" and "most ardent and devoted supporter" of Trimley St Martin. 

She was full of "determination and fighting spirit" and an "irreplaceable companion". 

Eric died from an accident at the age of 90 and Rosemary admitted to "struggling" on her own after 55 years of marriage. 

But she carried on - taking evening classes for pottery, upholstering, woodwork and computing; volunteering to raise money for the Trimley station refurbishment project and writing down her life story.

She died just before midnight on October 9, aged 86 years old.

As a keen writer, perhaps Rosemary should have the final word:

"Looking back, it has been a long and interesting life - if unconventional - and I regret nothing. I still have friends from my school days in Ipswich and the hostel where I lived as a student and I have been very fortunate. Cannot grumble." 

Rosemary Gitsham's funeral will be held at 1.30pm on Tuesday, November 9, at Seven Hills Crematorium, with a wake held afterwards at Trimley St Martin Memorial Hall.

A webcast has been requested for family and close friends to watch online and a Much Loved page has been set up in Rosemary's memory for tributes and donations.