Sheila Elizabeth Hooper (nee) Owens
24th August, 1935 to 11th November, 2003
The following Eulogy was given by Sheila’s husband, Tony, at a Memorial service held on 2nd December, 2003 in La Massana Church.
Fifty years ago in September 1953 I was amongst 150 new students at college who attended a welcoming evening. After the Principal had given his usual welcome and outlined what we could expect in the next two years, he asked us all to stand and look at all our fellow students. He then explained that it was the experience of the college that 50% of us would marry someone in the room. That was certainly true of Sheila and me. We married 4 years later and spent 46 very happy years together. Sheila was a remarkable woman who could make friends with anyone. She never judged and I never heard her say or do an intentional thing against anyone.
Always she had a smile on her face, and she was always generous with her time and help. Many people who have been in touch since she passed away have told me the same.
Throughout my career she gave me her full support and, when I went into residential education in 1961, she was there whenever she was needed. At various times and in various schools she filled in as a teacher, worked as a seamstress and even took over as assistant chef for one term – always with a smile on her face.
While not sporting herself, she supported me in my activities. However, she did draw the line when a friend suggested that I take up golf. Through these activities, particularly disabled sport, Sheila made friends throughout the world and I have received words of condolence from every continent. When I started a GB ladies’ team. she became the official escort. This sounds rather grand but really meant that she performed all the less glamorous tasks looking after the girls, always with her sparkle and her smile.
Sheila loved to sing and performed in her first public concert at the age of 3 in the local hall in her home village. (It was also here that we held the reception after her funeral.) When we went to the first residential school in Weston Rhyn in Shropshire, we found an English village where half of the people spoke Welsh. I visited the village last week and met her mentor, Graham who, at 87, still conducts the village choir. Sheila helped him to teach the lads in the school choir to sing in Welsh. This was a choir which had performed at the Llangollen and the National Eisteddfod, at the Albert Hall and in many competitions in England. Since all the lads hailed from Liverpool or Manchester, Sheila’s task was rather difficult. Nevertheless, the choir gave concerts over a wide area and Sheila would sing in both Welsh and English at all of them. In fact, I met several people in the village who remembered her in concerts or singing with the Glyn Ceriog Choir. And we left there 37 years ago! Sheila always sang and competed in youth and national Eisteddfods winning several medals. But she would sing at any opportunity and became a member of several light opera groups in our meanderings around the country.
Sheila was always willing to lend a hand, and had difficulty in saying no to a request for help. For example, she became the conductor of the choir here for one Christmas Concert and then continued on for 8 years. Throughout the 8 years she rarely missed a rehearsal and often, when we were in France for a weekend her message was: “I have to be back for Tuesday evening”. She also gave her full commitment to the Theatre Group. One incident which illustrates this was after she had received an implant following a mastectomy. Whilst she was receiving chemotherapy in Toulouse every week she also took part in a St. Valentine’s Day show one Sunday evening in Andorra. For several days there had been problems with the implant which was doing its best to escape from her body. She must have been in discomfort, if not pain, but she insisted on performing. At 6 a.m. the next morning she left for Toulouse for an operation to remove the implant the same afternoon.
I would like to thank the many people of Andorra who have sent their condolences and the Basketball Federation for a very kind offer to help.
Sheila was a remarkable woman who has left behind her, a huge store of pleasant memories and has given joy to people of all walks of life. I was a very lucky man to have enjoyed her company and love for 50 years. She was proudly Welsh and never forgot her heritage or her language. She was proud that both our children were born in Wales and consider themselves Welsh. Throughout her illness they gave us both tremendous support.
I would also like to thank Reverend Laurie Mort who helped us all through the last 2 weeks of her life.
I would like to close by going back to our early years.
The first song I heard her sing was “Daffyd a Carreg Wen”. It was a song that was always in her repertoire when she was invited to sing at various society functions in the towns of South Yorkshire and later at Scottish and Irish events celebrating national days. To remember those days and Sheila, I would like you to listen to “Daffyd a Carreg Wen” (David of the White Rock) sung by Brian Terfel.