Bertha Julia Kilby born: 21st January 1908
It is an understatement to say that the whole village was sad to hear the news of the death of Bertha Kilby on 11th July 2013.
The Parish Council wishes to mark the passing of a most loyal and dedicated villager.
This is a brief outline of a long life time of selfless service including many years dedicated to the village of Bramfield. Such a summary cannot convey the deep love and affection held for Bertha by all in the village of Bramfield and many others throughout Hertfordshire.
Berta attended Bramfield School and at the age of 15 started work as a Nanny to two children in Edgeware.
At 20 Bertha started work at Old Cross, Hertford in a shop called "Madam Maud" which sold dresses, hats and coats. She worked there for about 6 years
At 26 yrs Bertha started work at Old Cross Post Office.
In 1937 aged about 28, Bertha opened Bramfield Post Office and ran this for 38 years. She developed a thriving Post Office and combined it with a village shop which was reputed to be an Aladdin’s cave with stocks of all that a rural village could require (much before the age of Tesco).
On 26th March 1952 Bertha was elected to the Parish Council and served as a Councillor for 55 years.
In 1960 Bertha joined what was then the Village Hall Committee.
Past her 100th birthday Bertha continued her interest in both the Parish Council and the Village Hall Management Committee; she attended all meetings and made valuable contributions to discussions. Her memory of events in Bramfield remained vivid and she applied her depth of knowledge to whatever proposal was being discussed.
Throughout her life in the village, Bertha was a committed Christian and an active member of the Church of St Andrew. She was a member the Parochial Church Council and attended meetings until she became too ill to do so. For many years she maintained the register of members of the parish. As in the case of other committees her historical knowledge and knowledge and understanding of the people of Bramfield was very valuable to the discussions held by the PCC. Upon the occasion of the Herts & Beds Historical Churches fund raising events such as the annual sponsored bike ride Bertha had herself sponsored for checking in the riders visiting the Parish Church. She invariably raised substantial funds and in one of her last contributions raised a record amount – all for the benefit of the historic Churches in the area. Bertha was an accomplished knitter and frequently presented the Church with money she had raised by selling beautiful children’s garments. The PCC and all members remember her with love and joy and she will be sorely missed.
In 1985 Bertha was a founder member of the Bramfield Bowls Club. She played and served the club with dedication until 2004.
She had a stall at every Christmas and summer village fete and stocked her stalls with her knitting. Bertha had been doing this for the last 15 years. She also had a knitting stall in the Castle Hall, Hertford raising funds for the WI.
Bertha always ran the raffle at all the social events in the Village Hall including Quiz Nights and the Harvest Festival. !
She also sold raffle tickets for the Hospice in Welwyn Garden City, the Lifeboat Institute and the Blind, which she had to give up very recently because of her increasing immobility.
Bertha embroidered part of the Church Banner; she also made 18 kneelers for the Church, depicting whatever was appropriate for the person who requested she made one for them.
Whilst Bertha ran the village shop/post office, the local Doctor used the front sitting room once a week as a surgery and during the last war, she made one of the rooms over for First Aid in the village. She developed a ‘social service’ for the village.
Bertha also belonged to the "League of Friends" of Hertford County Hospital and held sales of work in her garden to raise money, during this time she was introduced to Princess Margaret.
She entertained in her home people from Bethnal Green Church on their annual visit to Bramfield. She did this for 26 years. Apart from providing tea for all she set up stalls in the garden to raise funds for the Village.
She was proud of the seat in the children’s play area which she funded from sales of her knitting. Her fund raising was a feature of her entire life. On her 100th birthday she presented a considerable donation to the Hertfordshire Air Ambulance.
Bertha contributed her considerable knowledge of village life to the Hertford Oral History Group now held at Hertford Museum. She gave similar interviews to local writers and even to a radio station from Belfast.
Bertha was proud of the telegrams she received from Her Majesty The Queen on both her 100th and 105th birthdays.
Guy Tucker, the Chairman of the Parish Council said as unique as Bertha was, reading this summary of her contributions to our community, has reinforced how much she will be missed. Not just for what she has done, but as an example of what a social conscience and selfless application can achieve. “She has been a constant in my life, always showing a considered opinion, often reinforced with great determination. Though she had much to be proud of in her long lifetime of accomplishments, all congratulations were met with great humility and not a trace of self-importance.
One of my earliest memories of Bertha was her meeting the school bus in the afternoon, on the day of the first moon landing. All the children were invited into her home to watch the events on television, in case we missed them while walking home. As an example of ‘giving’, it was typical of her”
On behalf of the Church of St Andrew, Dorothy Abel Smith recalls Bertha’s regular attendance at Church. She sang in the choir at Christmas and with great flair, helped decorate the Church for all the great festivals. From an early age, her family always attended Church and as children they had Sunday School as well. Discipline at home, at school and at Church was very strict.
Michael McMullen, District Councillor and Chairman of the Hertford Rural North branch of the Conservative party, said that Bertha had always been a staunch supporter at their events , even managing to attend a fund raising lunch at Stonyhills at the age of over 100. She very much became the star of the show and her constant support was highly valued by one and all. Her long life was full to the brim and she retained her zest for living to the end. She will be greatly missed.