Tribute: Anne Elizabeth Holt

28th March 1926 – 21st December 2019

Anne Holt died shortly before Christmas at the age of 93 after a long and busy life. spent almost entirely in and around Aylesbury. In her later years she was a familiar figure in Wendover, particularly at St Anne’s Church, where she played the organ for almost 40 years.

Anne was born in 1926 in Prestwood. Her parents both came from North Wales, her father from Conway and her mother from Amlwch on the far corner of Anglesey, where her large family had strong local roots and where Anne spent many happy holidays.

Anne began school in Wendover at Lady Margaret’s School off Dobbins Lane and was a founder pupil at Prebendal House in Aylesbury before going to board at St Swithun’s in Winchester.

After leaving St Swithun’s, Anne trained as a nursery teacher at the Froebel Institute and returned to Aylesbury in 1946, aged 20, to become headmistress of Fairmile Nursery, off Turnfurlong. Her struggles to keep the pipes and children from freezing during the severe winter of 1947 can still be read in in her distinctive, fluent hand in the school log in the County Archives.

That year Anne also met John, then a solicitor with the County Council, and in 1949 they were married at St Teresa’s, Princes Risborough. A year later Thomas was born, followed by James in 1952.

In 1949 Anne, who had been brought up as an Anglican, joined the Catholic Church. Following her conversion, she became deeply involved in the local Catholic community, firstly in Aylesbury and later, after moving to Butler’s Cross in 1974, in Wendover, taking a particular interest in the promotion of music in the liturgy. She was a founder member of the Aylesbury section of the Catholic Women’s League in the 1950s and held office at local and diocesan levels.

Anne’s teaching career ended in 1949 but she remained active in education, serving as a governor of Aylesbury High School and several primary schools. Child welfare was also central to her role as a magistrate on the Aylesbury Bench, to which she was appointed in 1969 and on which she served for 20 years, standing down only when she anticipated being ‘disqualified by antiquity’ from sitting in the juvenile court.

Anne was an accomplished pianist, winning a first-class certificate of merit at the Aylesbury Festival of the Arts in 1955. Her prize was a 78 recording of her performance, adjudicated by the music publisher, Kenneth Roberton, then already living in Wendover Windmill with his wife, Margaret, and young family.

Anne had a deep love of classical music and following the refurbishment of St Mary’s Church in Aylesbury in the 1970s she and Margaret Roberton were responsible for  establishing its weekly ‘Music at Lunchtime’ concerts, which Anne continued to organise until well into her eighties and which are now approaching their fortieth year. Anne was also for many years on the committee of Wendover Music.

In 1979 Anne was awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal by the Vatican for her services to the Catholic Church and in 2017 the Mayor of Aylesbury presented her with a Certificate of Appreciation for her years of service to the local community.

She never sought praise and was genuinely surprised when it came. She was also a loyal and caring friend and a source of support to anyone needing her help. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.