A woman who represented the best of Britain died on 12 November. Rosa Wright, who was a mum figure to me and a grandmother to Maelo (my daughter), devoted her life in service to the country via the public sector, to the church and to her local community. In a fitting tribute to her legacy, we are extending an open invitation to anyone who would like to attend the funeral (details below) to celebrate the life of a woman who lived her life according to the best of British values till she died aged 100. It’s an opportunity to honour an aged woman who lived through a century of British life. A symbol of something momentous as a new decade beckons.
Rosa Wright was born in 1919 and turned 100 in January 2019.
She lived through monumental changes in British culture and is, probably, one of the last people in the country to live through two world wars. She had vivid memories, right up to her final days, of WW2. As a result, it sharpened her anxiety and worry about unity which she constantly prayed about. Throughout her life she cared about things like national and community cohesion and took particular care to bring people together from all walks of life. Her life was a lived example of patriotism.
Here is an extract taken from a local online newspaper in celebration of Rosa’s 100th birthday:
For most of her working life Rosa was a civil servant at Home Office, and after a stint as staff welfare officer she was awarded the MBE in the 1979 New Year’s Honours List. Rosa Wright first came to Waterloo in 1982 as warden of the Christian Alliance Centre in Waterloo where she oversaw the hostel accommodation for students and young people. 300 young people from around the world lived at the CAC at any one time, and many former residents – who remember Rosa fondly – came back to Waterloo to join the celebrations on Saturday. Since 1992 she has been secretary of the New Cut Housing Co-operative which built and manages 41 homes on The Cut, and it was her neighbours who made sure that her centenary was celebrated in style. Rosa has been an active supporter of an array of local organisations over the years – including service as trustee of the Association of Waterloo Groups, and the Waterloo Action Centre – as well as the local Churches Together branch and the Community-Police Consultative Group for Lambeth.
Rosa was rare in how she lived her life. She had an open door policy for a start, quite literally. Her door was open to anyone all day till about 8pm. People would pop in from about 7am on their way to work etc.
She embraced multiculturalism in a big way and helped to set up a meeting space for Ugandan Christians in London. My personal testimony to her multiculturalism is the way she saw my family as hers. Having never been married, Maelo became her ‘granddaughter’. We are a mixed race family and she adored us. She liked curries but not as much as my husband’s roast.
Through their close relationship, Rosa taught Maelo and many other young people the values of inter-generational relationships. So many older people suffer from loneliness and this is an issue that we wish to highlight through Rosa’s death. The digital age has also created a generation divide. Rosa learnt how to email people but was quite often flummoxed by IT problems.
Rosa hated societal strife and worried endlessly about the current political impact on unity. She would speak to us about her worries. Having lived through bombs falling on her neighbourhood through the second World War, she worried about the current speculation of a return to food rationing and recalled how it was a hard time to live through that time. Rosa spoke about how people pulled together during that time but was at pains to point out that hardship was always present during the war.
One of the highlights of her life was being awarded an MBE for her services to the Home Office after having retired from a job that she adored. Meeting the Queen to receive her award was a memory that stayed with her.
A common thread running through her entire days was Christian worship. Her faith was formed at a time when the Church of England played a major part in British life.
She was a true patriot in contrast to when a patriot is, sometimes, defined in terms of how divisive a person is. She was a proud Brit and is, truly, one of the last of a certain generation.
As a lasting legacy to her life, marked by peace and love and togetherness, we invite anyone who wishes to be a part of the final send off for a wonderful woman who brought people together from all walks of life and ages, served the country well, served the community well and loved the Queen, to join us. It will be a dignified send off with thanksgiving for the life of a great citizen.
She loved having people around her and it seems fitting for us to issue this unusual invitation to attend her funeral even if you didn’t know her. It is entirely in keeping with her lived values and beliefs. A 100 years of a life lived with true meaning and purpose ought to be an occasion for all to share in. For her birthday we invited 100 people and 200 people attended. That is how loved and popular she was. Rosa would be amused at this open invitation but would be supportive of us doing it.
Funeral details: Tuesday 3 December, 12pm, St.John’s Waterloo
A procession will set off from 108, The Cut, at 11.30am to St. John’s, led by Maelo who will be carrying Rosa’s MBE medal.