/ Mary Sparks Apr 1940 - June 2021

ID: MSP_BIO
TitleMary Sparks Apr 1940 - June 2021
AbstractAlthough Mary's parents lived in Dartford, Mary Newman was born in The City of London on April 11th 1940.

Mary was always very proud to be a Cockney. Her maternal grandmother wanted her to be born near to where she lived. (This was 5 months before the bombing of London).

Soon after she was born her parents moved to Colchester. Her father was an optician and became manager of Clement Clarke in Crouch Street.

Her sister Anne was born in 1944 and soon after that Mary started at Colchester County High School for Girls. Mary was in one of the last years to start at the school before she was 11.

The Newman family lived in a flat above the shop, it was a good central place to live, but not any good for a child who longed for a pet dog.

Mary was studious and stayed at the High school until she had taken her A Levels in science subjects. (When her father, Sam, was at school he had wanted to be a doctor, but his parents couldn't afford for him to train so he had gone to night school to qualify as an optician). Sam wanted and persuaded Mary to become a doctor and she was accepted at The London Hospital. By now she was making a good friendship with Keith, her future husband. After a year's study in London she decided she didn't want another 5 years of training and got a job in the laboratory at Courage and Barclay's brewery on the Embankment.

Keith's father had a hobby of making puppets and putting on shows. Mary and Keith decided they could earn a living putting on puppet show at Butlins. They travelled to different Holiday Camps spending about 3 days in each.

Keith then decided to build animation puppet shows and formed a business to do this with Mary's help. They got married in 1966 and moved to a house in Colchester and at long last she could have pet dogs.

Keith and Mary's business grew and they designed and made many shop window Christmas displays including Seifridges in Oxford St. They then moved onto designing and making Fair Ground rides, one of the first was the Ghost Train on Clacton Pier, followed by work at Alton Towers, Blackpool and other Theme Parks.

By now they had moved to East Mersea. Keith could indulge in his love of horses and Mary her pet dogs.

In 1990 their marriage was falling apart and they got divorced in 1993.

Mary bought a house in West Mersea and earned a living until she was 65 Book keeping.

She made numerous friends at Church, Mersea Island Museum and Mersea island Trust and became Chairman of the Trust working very hard for it.

Despite some ill health Mary seemed happy until March 2020 when fockdown started, Although family and friends phoned she missed getting out meeting her friend. In April of that year she turned 80 and had to retire from being Chairman of The Trust. Although friends and family phoned to wish her Happy Birthday and sent her presents. it, wasn't the same and she neglected her health.

In November she fell ill and went to stay with her sister Anne, but one day it was difficult to wake her from a siesta and she went into hospital where her diabetes was found to be very serious and insulin daily injections were needed. Mary went into a good Care Home near Anne. Because of Lockdown Anne could only phone her and not visit until more recently. Under Lockdown rules, Mary wasn't allowed to be taken out and see friends.

On June 3rd Mary went into hospital as her skin was turning yellow, The hospital diagnosed Pancreatic Cancer and she died on June 19th just 16 days later. She was in her Care Home and a Hospice nurse had organised her medication. Anne was with her.

It is lovely to be able to meet all Mary's friends [at her funeral], especially Bruce the a Labrador, who she would call in and see, just to give him a pat, when she was near the Office.

Her room at the Care Home had pictures on the walls of her pet dogs and East Mersea Church. Her main loves in life.


It was a lovely summer's day for Mary's funeral held in East Mersea Church, 13 July 2021. This was the final stages of Lockdown, and the number present was limited to 30, masks to be worn and the congregation not allowed to sing. Kathy Knight played the organ and we were were treated to her beautiful singing of "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind". The service was taken by Revd. Terry Walker and the "Memories" recorded above were read by Christopher.
Mary was buried in the churchyard.

SourceMersea Museum
IDMSP_BIO
Related Images:
 Mary Sparks at her sister's home in Point Clear.  MSP_021
ImageID:   MSP_021
Title: Mary Sparks at her sister's home in Point Clear.
Date:10 December 2020
Source:Mersea Museum / Mary Sparks
 Mary Sparks née Newman. Passed away 19th June 2021 age 81 years.  MSP_041
ImageID:   MSP_041
Title: Mary Sparks née Newman. Passed away 19th June 2021 age 81 years.
Date:19 June 2021
Source:Mersea Museum
 Patricia Catchpole and Mary Sparks  MSP_061
ImageID:   MSP_061
Title: Patricia Catchpole and Mary Sparks
Source:Mersea Museum / Mary Sparks
 At the races - Mary Sparks and Patricia Catchpole  MSP_063
ImageID:   MSP_063
Title: At the races - Mary Sparks and Patricia Catchpole
Source:Mersea Museum / Mary Sparks
 59 Fairhaven Avenue, West Mersea. Home of Mary and Keith Sparks.  MSP_FVN_007
ImageID:   MSP_FVN_007
Title: 59 Fairhaven Avenue, West Mersea. Home of Mary and Keith Sparks.
Date:c1975
Source:Mersea Museum / Mary Sparks
 Royalties, Bromans Lane, East Mersea. Home of Mary and Keith Sparks from 1982  MSP_RL1_003
ImageID:   MSP_RL1_003
Title: Royalties, Bromans Lane, East Mersea. Home of Mary and Keith Sparks from 1982
Date:1980s
Source:Mersea Museum / Mary Sparks
 In Loving Memory of Mary Sparks 11 April 1940 - 19 June 2021
 St Edmund's Church, East Mersea.  MSP_SVC_001
ImageID:   MSP_SVC_001
Title: In Loving Memory of Mary Sparks 11 April 1940 - 19 June 2021
St Edmund's Church, East Mersea.
Date:13 July 2021
Source:Mersea Museum
 Mary Sparks 11 April 1940 - 19 June 2021
 A service of celebration of the life of Mary Sparks
 Welcome and Prayers by Reverend Terry Walker
 Hymn - Dear Lord and Father of Mankind sung by Kathy Knight
 Memories of Mary read by Christopher
 ...
 At the graveside - Committal and Blessing.
</p><p>There were still Covid lockdown rules in place at this time. The number in the church was limited to 30 and the congregation was not allowed to sing. Kathy Knight played the organ and sang the hymns.
</p>  MSP_SVC_002
ImageID:   MSP_SVC_002
Title: Mary Sparks 11 April 1940 - 19 June 2021
A service of celebration of the life of Mary Sparks
Welcome and Prayers by Reverend Terry Walker
Hymn - Dear Lord and Father of Mankind sung by Kathy Knight
Memories of Mary read by Christopher
...
At the graveside - Committal and Blessing.

There were still Covid lockdown rules in place at this time. The number in the church was limited to 30 and the congregation was not allowed to sing. Kathy Knight played the organ and sang the hymns.

Date:13 July 2021
Source:Mersea Museum
 Mary Sparks 11 April 1940 - 19 June 2021
</p><p>After the Service, there was a gathering in a marquee at Mersea Barns.
</p><p>For a better copy of the right hand photo, see <a href=mmphoto.php?typ=ID&hit=1&tot=1&ba=cke&rhit=1&bid=TM3_2788 ID=1>TM3_2788 </a>  MSP_SVC_004
ImageID:   MSP_SVC_004
Title: Mary Sparks 11 April 1940 - 19 June 2021

After the Service, there was a gathering in a marquee at Mersea Barns.

For a better copy of the right hand photo, see TM3_2788

Date:13 July 2021
Source:Mersea Museum
 Posing. The professional looks on. The wall under construction - Ron Green, Mary Sparks and Pat Kirby.  TM2_5017
ImageID:   TM2_5017
Title: Posing. The professional looks on. The wall under construction - Ron Green, Mary Sparks and Pat Kirby.
Date:4 June 2010
Source:Mersea Museum
 Mary Sparks. Photo by J.F. Botham  TM3_2788
ImageID:   TM3_2788
Title: Mary Sparks. Photo by J.F. Botham
Source:Mersea Museum / Tony Millatt