Una Mitchell: A Remarkable Lady
Una was born locally on 6 December 1926. She spent most of her life in Stratford Upon Avon and Scotland and returned to Woodbridge with her husband Roy and sister Joy in 2000 for the final phase of her life. And what an impact she made after having to start afresh in a new place at 75!
One of the first clubs Una joined was Woodbridge Bowls Club. Being a naturally friendly person, she soon became an established member of the club. Bowling was clearly a sport she loved. She had played previously in Scotland to quite a high level, including county, and had skill, experience, determination and competitiveness when playing. She was still playing into her late 80s with ever-smaller bowls, but with a delivery that could still weave a path through to the jack and win a game. She was appointed president of the Fynn League and visited all the clubs in the league in that capacity.
She was a long-serving committee member and was responsible for organising friendly matches. During these matches she would pay close attention to the individual games, making notes for her captain’s speech afterward. She always took her responsibilities seriously and had an old-fashioned sense of duty and of doing things right. After she stopped bowling, her interest in the game remained undiminished and she would attend both home and away matches supporting our players, even going to Skegness to watch them play in the national competitions.
Everyone benefitted from this support and friendships grew. But Una could be mischievous. On one occasion, a club member bought a bag of jelly babies to eat during his match. Unfortunately, he left them within her reach! The member took their loss well and forever after always bought an extra bag of jelly babies for Una to enjoy. That was how people reacted to her. Una endowed the club’s end-of-season competition with a trophy which now carries her name.
Una’s other main interest and involvement was the local Conservative party. She was a great recruitment sergeant for the party. Up to her late 80s, she actively supported election campaigns by stuffing envelopes, delivering leaflets and knocking on doors. Una told the story that when she was 16 her father came home one night and told Una and sister Joy that a new Young Conservatives group had been formed and that they must join. She didn’t hesitate and had a ball.
From that time on she remained a staunch Conservative member and enjoyed organising and attending fundraising events, luncheons (always her favourite), interest groups like the Conservative Women’s Organisation and annual dinners where she met national politicians. She served on local branch and area committees and was a person for getting things done, a rare quality. Una threw herself wholeheartedly into anything that she did, in particular being the treasurer of the CWO. She will be greatly missed and the CWO committee meetings and events will not be the same without her. They have lost a good friend as well as an indomitable supporter of the party.
In 2016, the Woodbridge Town Council mayor invited Una to be his consort for the year and she readily agreed. She attended many official events across the county and in the town. She was always good company, full of anecdotes and invaluable in recognising the many people they met. She loved being part of the pageantry and processions of the ceremonies they attended and having the best seats as she would say. She wore her chain of office with pride.
A high point was when they were invited to attend the opening by the Queen of the Newmarket Horseracing Museum. Being up close to the Queen, Una was surprised that they were about the same height and waxed lyrical about her colour coordinated outfit all the way home. Una always took time to look her best and was very careful choosing outfits, hats and jewellery to suit the occasion.
Una was a very busy lady with a full diary. After moving to Woodbridge, she lost her husband and, soon after, her sister. Now living on her own she was determined to make the best of the rest of her life and go out and enjoy it to the full. She would attend all sorts of events, talks, shows, particularly the ballet (her favourite), either watching it live in Ipswich or screened locally from the Royal Opera House.
She belonged to many clubs and interest groups, all of which widened her circle of friends and acquaintances. She enjoyed the highbrow and said she was forever spoilt from watching the great actors and dancers perform when she used to live in Stratford upon Avon. For her holidays, she would think nothing of jumping on a train up to Scotland and then taking a cruise around her beloved Shetland Isles.
Una was generous and on her 90th birthday invited her family and friends on the Orient Express Experience which included a meal with fine wine and excellent food. Subsequent birthdays were enjoyed with her friends in local restaurants.
Technology was always a challenge for her and she would get very cross and frustrated and then scream at her iPad when it wouldn’t do what she wanted it to do. However, she learned how to email and later on joined Zoom meetings.
Una had health issues but that did not stop her doing the things she enjoyed. The Covid-19 lockdown was a particularly hard blow for Una, being unable to meet up with friends and having an empty diary. She was still getting around with her frame but feeling frustrated and looking forward to the end of lockdown and enjoying brunch with friends in the Nottcutts restaurant.
Una went into Grove Court for respite care and it was hoped that would they would build her back up again as she always seemed indestructible. It was not to be and sadly her time had come.
Her friends will miss and not forget the cheery, determined, amusing, elegant, informative, mischievous and slightly eccentric Una Mitchell who died on 6 April 2021.
Rest in Peace Una.