Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Jean Topps Eulogy

by Terry, Vicky & Rebecca.

Jean was hard working & diligent, both in her professional & personal life. She was a primary school teacher in Warrington for over 40 years. She had particular interests in music & supporting children with special needs. Jean contributed to school life by running an orchestra and – with great empathy – supporting trainee teachers from Hope Uni.

Jean was married to her husband, Terry, for 50 years and they raised two daughters, Vicky & Rebecca. Terry & Jean met at a dance in Bangor, North Wales. Jean had been abandoned by her friend who had reunited with an old boyfriend at the dance. When they met for a second date, Jean confessed she had no idea what Terry looked like and could only recall the sight of his chest as he was so tall!

In retirement, Terry & Jean enjoyed travelling together. They shared a love of history, visiting the Tutankhamun Exhibition in London and the Terracotta Warriors in China. Jean particularly loved Northumberland and they would visit every year. They also enjoyed watching cricket and rugby together. Most of all, they laughed a lot and, in the last 5 years, became the epitome of mutual support in ‘sickness & in health’.

Jean was a busy working mum and she worked tremendously hard at school, as well as helping Terry with his paperwork. A family from St Werbugh’s school contacted us after Jean’s death, to say she always ‘went the extra mile’ as a class teacher.

Despite being busy, Jean always made time for us. She was funny and loving. Rebecca remembers an occasion when Jean picked her up from Girl Guide camp, nursing a cut finger. Jean had cut it whilst making a ‘welcome home cake’ for Rebecca!

Jean’s calls from hospital would always start with ‘How are you sweetie?’ Vicky remembers endless chats with Jean over cups of hot tea and laughing together whilst watching Victoria Wood and Monty Python on TV.

Jean instilled core values in her children by example: work hard, do your best & help others. Jean inspired Vicky to train as a speech therapist.

Music was very important to Jean and she leant to play the piano as a child. She was a member of a number of choirs and performed with a ladies’ barbershop chorus called the Cheshire Chord Company. She travelled in the UK and Europe, taking part in competitions. She had an eclectic taste in music and was a Beatles fan in her youth. She also loved classical music and always tuned in to Classic FM at home, whilst completing her schoolwork and household chores.

Jean was the embodiment of lifelong learning. In her retirement she learnt to play the organ, started scrap booking, knitted for her granddaughter, and a host of other things.

She was honest and authentic. She didn’t mince her words or ‘suffer fools’. She had no interest in vacuous, empty gestures & promises.

Jean was brave. She went out of her comfort zone: professionally and personally. Following the birth of her granddaughter, she flew out to Hong Kong on her own, to visit and offer support.

In the last 5 years of her life, Jean faced a number of significant health issues with courage, pragmatism, positivity and humour. She never complained, and showed a complete lack of vanity when cancer paralyzed one side of her face.

With her typical modesty, Jean considered herself to be quite an ordinary person. But, in reality, she was extraordinary. This became evident particularly in the last decade of her life: she adapted, changed, and learnt new skills. She was inspirational to those who were privileged enough to know her.

Jean will be sorely missed, but we find comfort in knowing she would want us to be strong and, in her own words, to carry on ‘shuffling our bits’ i.e. to get on with it even when we don’t have the enthusiasm for it!

Jean, may you rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.