Mrs. Phyllis Winslow
Published: 30 Aug 2012 13:00
Phyllis Emily Irvine Winslow's long and well travelled life began in 1921 when she was born to George and Dodo Noblett in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary where her father was a District Inspector in the Royal Irish Constabulary. Later, the family moved to Barley Hill, Westport, Co. Mayo where her contented childhood was shared with her two younger sisters, Joan and Daphne and her brother Kenneth.
Her maternal grandfather Canon Ford's family had lived at Coolbuck, Lisbellaw since the 1640s. Canon Ford's father had built the small church on the Coolbuck Estate and Phyllis had helped restore and refurbish it in 1998. It was Canon Ford who recommended in 1934 that she became a boarder at the Girls' Collegiate School, Enniskillen. This move to Enniskillen was to provide a foundation stone upon which her future life would be centred.
When she left the Collegiate in 1938, it was her intention to study medicine. But this plan was thwarted with the onset of the Second World War in 1939 and she decided to train as a nurse. Between 1940 to 1944, she attended the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin to later become a Theatre Sister.
Later, Phyllis joined the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps in 1949 where she was to serve in Gibraltar, Malta, Tobruk and Benghazi. It was in Benghazi, in 1949, that she met and married Captain Bill Dutton and they remained there until 1952. During this period both her boys Jonathan and Roger were born in the Benghazi Military Hospital.
Soon afterwards, the young Dutton family was posted to Sierra Leone in 1955 and enjoyed six wonderful years in West Africa.
Phyllis became the Personal Assistant to the Governor's wife, Lady Dorman at Government House in Freetown. She was intimately involved in the planning for the myriad of functions ranging from domestic, diplomatic and state events including arrangements for visiting minor Royals, investitures and garden parties whilst continuing to oversee the day to day running of Government House.
Undoubtedly the highlight of her time there was the visit of the Queen and Prince Philip in 1961 when she found herself very much involved with all the events surrounding the visit, meeting and talking to the Royals daily. The Queen gave her an engraved silver powder compact which she treasured greatly, and which she passed to her granddaughter Lottie.
The Duttons returned to England in 1962 making a home in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.
At this point Phyllis decided to retrain and using both her love of cooking and experience from Sierra Leone she attended a course at Leicester University which enabled her to become the School Meals Organiser in the Melton Mowbray area for the next seven years.
In 1966, her husband Bill retired from the Army but sadly died two years later aged 56. This was a major turning point in her life and that of her sons Jonathan and Roger.
In 1969 she returned to live in Enniskillen as Mrs. Mervyn Winslow. She and Mervyn had first met in 1934, through tennis, whilst she was at the Collegiate School. He was a newly qualified solicitor in the family firm of B L Winslow & Sons. Touchingly they had remained friends from those early days.
With Jon at Sandhurst, Roger was fortunate to have the later part of his childhood in Enniskillen and he completed his education at Portora.
Phyllis and Mervyn shared 27 very happy years together and enjoyed shared interests in their home and gardening.
Phyllis's life was filled with cameos of achievements reflecting the enormous interests she had. She was Chairman of the Women's Section Royal British Legion for Irvinestown for several years and subsequently became the Northern Ireland Chairman in 1981 serving on the National Committee and the National Widows' Allowance Committee in London until 1987.
In 1975, she became one of the founder members of the Erne Flower Arrangement Society. Over the years it flourished and was responsible for numerous flower festivals, raising funds for various churches in Fermanagh and elsewhere.
From 1978, Phyllis taught flower arrangement at evening classes in Fermanagh College as well as at out centres in local villages, later confining these classes in her own home until 1996.
In 1987, the Society started staging Christmas flower arrangement shows in the Ardhowen Theatre and the proceeds were donated to local charities each year.
She was also a keen member of the Fermanagh Gardening Society from its inception and was its Chairman from 1999 to 2002.
She was an active member of the Fermanagh Branch of Multiple Sclerosis Society and helped to raise funds towards this charity by opening her garden in May each year.
She served on the local MS Committee and in 2008 the MS Society awarded her with the distinction of having a daffodil bred and named "Phyllis Winslow" as a tribute to her support of MS in Fermanagh and of opening her garden to raise funds.
A redoubtable lady whose life spanned almost 91 years, she was fiercely proud of her sons, taking immense pride in all their achievements. Her love for them, their respective wives and her grandchildren had no bounds. She was always on hand to help and listen.
Her last few years were ones when she had to relinquish her role as the carer and the do-er for others and become the one who was the cared for. Those who ensured that she was never left a day without the most tender care and kindness are extended thanks. Each are acknowledged for giving her the courage and reassurance to complete her final lap of life with the dignity that she wanted.
Remembered as a most wonderful and generous mother and grandmother, Phyllis's burial took place at Breandrum Cemetery.
The funeral arrangements were by funeral directors, W.T. Morrison, Darling Street, Enniskillen.