Nancy Needham nee Talkes
Annie Elizabeth Talkes, known to her family and many friends as Nancy, was born in 1921 in the Lincolnshire village of Threekingham, the daughter of Frederick Talkes from Threekingham, and his wife, Rose Maud Geeson, known as Maud, who was born in Waltham on the Wolds. When Nancy was just six months old, her father found employment as a waggoner at Hall Farm in Goadby Marwood, and he moved his small family to live at Field Cottage just off Main Street.
In December 1923, Maud gave birth to a son who was christened William but who was known by his middle name, Edward or Teddy. Tragedy struck in 1928 when Teddy died in a dreadful accident, he was just four years old. Following Teddy's death, the family moved to Norman Cottages.
Nancy has had a variety of jobs during her long life. She worked at The Laurels dairy farm for the Scorer family during the mid-1930s just after leaving school, she worked as a housemaid at Goadby Hall, she helped out at Hall Farm with the heavy horses both before and during World War II, and prior to her marriage she worked at a transport café near Seagrave, where she lived on site with her young son.
In 1955, Nancy married Stanley Needham whose family lived at Hall Farm. The couple moved into Hillfoot Cottages where they raised their family. Nancy already had a young son from a previous relationship, and she and Stan were blessed with another two boys. Nancy still lives in Goadby Marwood today and is practically a legend in her own lifetime. Despite her great age she has a remarkable memory and has seen many changes in village life; in January 2020, she kindly shared her recollections with members of the Goadby Marwood History Group.
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Recollections of Nancy Needham in conversation with the Goadby Marwood History Group, January 2020
When I first came to the village as a baby our family lived at Field Cottages – the one nearest the pond. Later, after my brother Teddy died, we moved to Norman Cottages. There was no mains water, we had a water pump in the garden and there was a well next door in the yard. In the summer we used to put the milk down the well to keep it cool.
I went to the village school; Mrs Allen was the teacher. But after Teddy died my mother became quite ill, so I went to live with my Granny Geeson in Waltham for a while, and I attended the school there instead of at Goadby. Granny’s cottage in Waltham had an outside loo with a twin seat!
When I left school, I worked at the Scorer’s dairy farm in the village, helping with the milking. I also worked at Goadby Hall as a housemaid helping with the cleaning. The head housemaid was Dorothy Goodridge, she was a real tartar and would give me a good ticking off if I didn’t dust the banisters properly.
My father was a waggoner working for Captain Sheriffe at Hall Farm and I used to help him groom the cart horses every day. I got a telling off from him if I didn’t do a good job. The horses were called Dick, Short and Beaut - Dick was a bit of a nipper and could give you a good bite on the arm if you didn’t watch out.
During the war we had several land girls working on the farms in the village and I became especially friendly with one girl called Beryl. She could ride well and used to jump up onto her horse to ride it back to the farm after a day in the fields. I never mastered riding, I always used to fall off, so I had to just lead my horse home.
The Manor on Main Street housed Italian and later German POWs during WWII. Walter Casey was the warden, and he took the prisoners out each morning and dropped them off to work at the farms. His wife did all the cooking for the prisoners.
My father fought during WWI and he was in the Home Guard in WWII. He used to man the checkpoint at the top of Goadby Hill so when I had been out dancing all night, he usually knew what time I came home.
I regularly went to the dances in Waltham. The American army had a camp at the top of the hill in the fields between Goadby and Waltham, and many of them used to go to the dances. I walked out with one, Lieutenant Perry. He used to walk me home and was a real gentleman. Sometimes I would get home as late as two in the morning, my shoes had noisy steel taps and I would take them off as I got near the bottom of the hill so as not to set the dogs barking.
I met my husband, Stan Needham, at Hall Farm where his family lived, they previously lived at Piper Hole Farm but moved in the summer of 1939. When we married in 1955 and moved to Hillfoot Cottages my father, who was widowed by then, came to live with us.
Stan worked at Hall Farm and then later for Botterils in Waltham but was unfortunately made redundant. He then worked for Monica Sheriffe and later Vicky and Harry Westropp at Goadby Hall, looking after the ducks on Bellemere pond and doing a bit of gardening. He used to hang his tools in one of the trees near the pond and they can still be seen hanging there today.
Although I don’t get out these days, I have lots of friends who visit. I’ve known most of the families in the village during the many years I’ve lived here.
I was good friends with Barbara Price who lived at Hillfoot Cottages with her parents and brother. Mr. Price was the butler at Goadby Hall. He always used to wear a trilby and one windy night when Barbara and I had been to play with Peggy Hemphrey at White Lodge, he came to walk us home and his hat blew off. I couldn’t stop laughing and he got quite annoyed!
I remember Rev. Collyer who was the Vicar and lived at the Rectory. He was a lovely man and was well-liked by everyone in the village! Stan's sister, Hazel Needham, worked for the Collyers doing housework before she married. One day Rev. Collyer took Hazel and me for a day trip to Skegness as a special treat - just the two of us. I was in the church choir, and there were two services every Sunday back then. I liked Evensong the best as there were always four hymns to sing and I loved singing. I also used to wash the surplices that the choir wore. I later worked at the Rectory occasionally helping with the cleaning - it was a big house to clean!
I used to collect milk from Herbert Mayfield and his sister, Eva Lambert, at Ivy House farm but was not very impressed by the state of the buckets – Eva didn’t clean them very well. She also had a habit of pinching coal from other houses in the village!
I recall Flo Kemp who lived on Kemps Lane in The Brooms, and her brother, Dick, and his wife Gladys, who lived at Ivy Cottage. Bill Cripps lived with them, he looked after Miss Sheriffe’s race horses. One of the grooms that worked with him was often seen riding about the village wearing makeup!
I remember the tragic death of John Pizer. He was a lovely lad and used to visit us at Hillfoot cottages on many nights to play cards with my sons. I used to visit John’s dad, Ted Pizer, every Monday morning after his wife, Peg, died. He would sit by the fire in his old berry, smoking his pipe, while we drank tea and reminisced.
The End of a Remarkable Story
On February 28th 2020 Nancy took a tumble at home in Goadby. Although she appeared to have no injuries, her doctor recommended that an ambulance should be called so that she could be checked over in hospital, and she was admitted to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.
Nancy was diagnosed with a kidney infection and a possible enlarged heart. She spent several weeks in Nottingham and then in early April she was transferred to the specialist rehabilitation unit at Melton Hospital. This was a very difficult time for Nancy’s family. Covid-19 virus restrictions meant they had been unable to visit her since lockdown began in March, and just a few days after arriving in Melton, Nancy tested positive for Covid-19.
Initially she only displayed mild symptoms but these worsened causing the medical staff some concern and the family expected the worst. Nancy’s strength and character had been tested by many difficult times during her long life but she had the resilience and fortitude shown by so many of her generation, and just a few days later she was sitting up in bed and asking to go home.
On April 22nd, Nancy was transferred to a care home in Coalville where there was a specialist unit for patients recovering from Covid. She spent several weeks in Coalville but she wanted to be close to her home, and in late July her family was able to get her transferred to Waltham Hall Nursing Home. Throughout her time in care, Nancy had been happy and chatting with her family by phone, through windows and eventually face to face, but she became ill at the end of August and was again admitted to Queen’s Medical Centre.
Nancy died on the morning of September 6th, just a few days short of her 99th birthday, and her funeral was held at Grantham Crematorium on September 22nd. Nancy loved Irish music - particularly Daniel O'Donnell - and his song ‘Beyond the Rainbow's End' was played at her funeral. The numbers attending were of course subject to Covid-19 restrictions, so Nancy made one last journey home when her cortège took a detour through the village of Goadby Marwood and drove down Main Street to applause from her many friends who had gathered to pay their respects.
Nancy’s husband, Stan Needham, died in August 2017. His ashes were scattered in the grounds of Goadby Hall where he had worked for so many years, and an oak tree was planted in his honour. Nancy’s ashes will be scattered in the same place, and with the kind permission of Vicky and Harry Westropp, another beautiful tree will mark the place and commemorate the life of a remarkable lady.
Nancy's cortege progressing along Main Street in Goadby Marwood, the village where she lived for most of her long life.
Nancy's cottage on Main Street decorated with beautiful
flowers by her neighbours.