Tribute: Fiona Poole
Fiona was a familiar sight in Wendover bombing up and down the High Street in her motorised wheelchair and sitting outside Crumbs.
She was born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1935. Fiona spent much of the war in Scotland, which instilled in her a lifelong love of her Scottish family and heritage. In 1968, after qualifying as a teacher and living in Bedford, she moved to Wendover with her husband Eric and 4 small children and she threw herself into the life of the community for the next 52 years. Fiona wrote a piece entitled “Friendly Wendover’ for the Bucks Village Book in which she recalled realising how friendly Wendover was going to be on the night they moved in, when 3 elderly people bundled up against the cold, appeared on the doorstep to invite the whole family for supper – an offer that was declined because it was bath time.
Fiona was reception class teacher at a number of local schools including Wendover and Halton infants. She has been described as a dedicated and inspiring teacher, firm but kind. There are so many pupils, now adults, who remember her fondly.
The Women’s Institute had become an important part of Fiona’s life when she lived in Bedford, where she found friendliness, care and support – she wanted the same for Wendover. She canvassed interest by standing at the school gate giving out leaflets and after much planning Wendover Evening WI was born. She was founder president, then president again in the 1980s and more recently 2000 and 2001. She was great supporter of things and people at a local level, particularly other smaller neighbouring WIs. One of her treasured memories was being in the Royal Albert Hall surrounded by WI ladies from all over the country singing Jerusalem at their AGM – which she described as ‘an awesome experience.’ Fiona, dressed as the Queen, led the WI twice in ‘Wendover Celebrates’ parades in her wheelchair. In the WI centenary year, a scroll made its way round the county using various forms of transport – when Fiona discovered that there was no wheelchair involvement she intervened and ended up representing wheelchair users in the relay by parading around Wyevale Garden Centre. The photo shows her getting stuck into ‘Clean for the Queen’ in 2016.
The WI was incredibly important to Fiona. In her words, ‘it is a caring friendly and approachable organisation. I would have been lost without their support through the years’. In their words, ‘she was the WI’.
Fiona loved Wendover. She supported many local organisations, in particular, she was a huge advocate of the Wendover Community Library – in recent years selling charity Christmas cards there, which she was very good at as she knew most of the people coming through the door. Wendover Dementia Alliance and Lindengate were also close to her heart. She was a campaigner,-when the Heron Path became impassable for her wheelchair, due to tree roots,she wrote to, and badgered everyone she could think of until it was resurfaced.
Fiona was always seeking new challenges. Travelling around the USA alone on Greyhound buses, gaining her day skipper sailing licence, taking a balloon ride to celebrate her 60th birthday and passing her advanced driving test when she was 70. She was also a talented handicrafter and gardener.
Fiona was a remarkable lady who touched the lives of many people. A real character who had a tremendous sense of fun, and who greeted everyone with open arms and a beaming smile. She supported Wendover and Wendover supported her. She will be greatly missed.