Local Face: Mary Sketch

  |  Published: Apr 1st 2019

Mary was born near Leeds where she lived as the third of four sisters, her twin, Margaret, being the older by 20 minutes! Having attended Notre Dame Collegiate School for 3 years, Mary had one year in Edinburgh in Holy Cross Academy before the family moved due to a promotion for her father, a Civil Engineer who became the “Divisional Road Engineer for Wales and Monmouth” in the Civil Service.
In Cardiff she attended Heathfield House RC High School for three years, followed by the University of Wales, Cardiff College, where she obtained a First Class Honours degree in Latin. Mary retains her love of words, which she finds fascinating.

Mary met Tony Sketch, working as a Civil Engineer but with Glamorgan County Council, and married him after teaching for a year in Tredegar Park, then a private school but taking in without payment those Catholic girls who had passed the 11 plus, who would not otherwise have been able to attend a good RC Secondary school. After three years of teaching, Mary became a proud mother to Peter, now a Principal Environmental Scientist, and Claire, now Associate Director of Ecology. Both work for large civil engineering firms but in connection with environmental matters. Claire and her husband Andy have one daughter Sian, who is her grandmother’s pride and joy!

Later, the family spent four happy years in Swansea before Tony became the Deputy and later the County Engineer for Buckinghamshire. 20 years in Aylesbury, where St Joseph’s RC Church was important in Mary and later Tony’s lives, were followed by their time in Wendover. Tony died nine years ago, and the last few months were difficult. Mary has now lived here for 21 years.

All those years ago, Mary taught RE to “her” class, 2a, in Tredegar Park, Newport (now owned by the National Trust) and perhaps this led later to her great interest in Christian Spirituality. Happy years in the Charismatic Prayer Group at St Joseph’s were followed by 3 years as a student in the Chiltern Christian Training Programme which later became a Local Ecumenical Project. Nine topics were studied, and Mary later led the courses on “Growing in Prayer” in Aylesbury and High Wycombe. She wrote two books for those leading groups in prayer in connection with her work with the RCIA Group in St. Joseph’s, and a privately published book of her own prayers.

It was a joy to teach and learn from Christians of different denominations, and the closure of the CCT Programme in 2000 was a great loss, but was followed by three years in the London Centre for Spiritual Direction studying the art of Spiritual Direction. Mary sees “Directees” of all denominations, but most “Directors” are not keen on that title, preferring to be thought of as people who accompany others in their journey towards God.Since Tony’s death, Mary has become more deeply involved with Churches Together in Wendover. A team of four, including Mary, led two very enjoyable Lent courses in prayer a few years ago, and Mary has been able to lead two days on the Psalms (which she loves) and a half day of meditation, which is to be followed this Lent by a morning of meditations for this season of the Church’s year. She is also involved in the Ecumenical Services of Healing and Wholeness which now take place monthly in St Anne’s or St Mary’s. Mary loves the fact that the three churches can pray and work together and that St Anne’s is the home of Wendover Free Church as well as her Roman Catholic “family”.

Mary started volunteering at Wendover Library two years after Tony died, and is glad to give something back to the village. Mary is hard of hearing and enjoys the lip-reading classes in the library room, where mistakes can be hilarious. She also enjoys making up silly poems for the U3A Creative Writing Group!

Mary headshot
prayer book cover
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