Obituary: Sheila Mary Watson

Sheila Watson EMN-160614-135943001
Sheila Watson EMN-160614-135943001

Sheila Mary Watson was well known locally as the founder of Horncastle Community Playgroup, which she set up in the 1970s, and where she worked for more than two decades.

Sheila was also chairman of the Lincolnshire Pre-School Learning Alliance for many years.

Born in Godalming, Surrey, in 1938, Sheila moved with her sister Val and mother Mabel from their home in Hertfordshire to Cherrytree in Lancashire, while her father Herbert was posted to India.

Sheila attended St Catherine’s School in Bramley near Guildford, where she became head girl during her final year.

Upon leaving school, she attended the University of Exeter, where she graduated with a degree in sociology in 1960, and then completed post-graduate study, also in sociology, at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, USA.

Following her studies, Sheila returned to Notting Hill and began her working life as a primary school teacher in London.

Both in Devon and in America, Sheila acted and toured with theatre groups, and it was her love of the theatre that led to her meeting the man who was to become her husband.

Fred Watson was a playwright she met at the Questors Theatre in 1964.

The couple were married in Broxburne, Hertfordshire, in July 1965.

They made their first home in Sussex before moving to Hill Top in Low Hameringham, near Horncastle, in 1967 after the birth of their first daughter, Agnes.

Agnes was followed by the arrival of their son James in 1969 and Flora in 1972.

Sheila put in a huge amount of work raising the children and supporting Fred in his career.

Fred was away at university in Belfast from 1972 for six years, undergoing his medical training, before working very long hours as a GP for Wragby and Bardney for almost 20 years.

Sheila helped Fred set up his medical practices in Wragby and Bardney, acting as receptionist in the early days as well as looking after the accounts.

Sheila had a great passion for finding out about the world. She loved travel, languages, reading and other cultures, and stayed with families in Russia, Georgia and Italy on holidays abroad.

Sheila enjoyed speaking French, Italian and Russian.

She gained A-level qualifications in Italian and Russian at night classes while in her 50s and also studied Romanian at home.

She also had many other interests, including her garden, her local book group, the University of The Third Age and the history of architecture.

After Fred died in 2006, Sheila remained at Hill Top for a couple of years before moving to a bungalow in Boston Road, Horncastle, where she continued to value her independence and would particularly enjoy visits from her six grandchildren, Erin, David, Sam, Mark, Natalie and Emily.

Earlier this year, Sheila moved into a residential home in Essex to be near to her family and it was here that she was able to die peacefully.

A memorial service was held at Lincoln Crematorium on April 18, with donations made to Unicef.

Mourners included family and friends.