Cynthia Cecilia Gibbs, my Mum, was born on 16 October 1930 in Rangoon, Burma, to William Gibbs, a sergeant in Rangoon City police force and his wife Minnie. In 1933 her sister Jeanette was born. Her early years were spent travelling around Burma due to the postings her father received. In early 1939 the family moved to the UK, settling in Belvedere in 1942. Mum attended Bexley Technical High School for Girls (now Townley Grammar). She then undertook further studies at Cheltenham Commercial College in Gloucestershire, gaining her qualifications in London Chamber of Commerce English and Pitman shorthand and typing. In the mid to late 1940s Mum worked as a typist/secretary for a number of companies.
Mum had a great love of dancing and on 19 May 1951 met a young merchant sailor called Andrew Gibson at the Embassy Ballroom in Welling. He was working for the Orient Line Shipping Company and was often away for months at a time. According to Mum, they started a conversation after her rosary fell out of her handbag onto the table.
On 31 October 1953 she married Dad at St Lawrence’s Catholic Church, Sidcup with a wedding reception in St Stephen’s Church Hall. Mum moved into 51 Montrose Avenue with her in-laws and helped to nurse her father-in-law who had a degenerative illness. Dad couldn’t face leaving his young wife so he “came ashore”. This is where Mum lived until September 2019.
St Stephen’s Church was an important part of Mum’s life for 65 years until she was no longer able to attend. According to Dad, this was due to the warm welcome she originally received from the congregation in 1953.
In 1955 Andrina was born, I followed in 1957 and Rory in 1958. Although times were tough, these were some of Mum’s most memorable times. This love of children meant that in future years her grandchildren and great grandchildren received love, affection and chocolate. Mum always had a strong work ethic and in 1963, when Rory started school, she immediately got some part-time work, working part or full time for the next 27 years.
Mum worked till the early 1990s before she took retirement from the Royal Bank of Scotland to spend more time with Dad, enjoy her retirement and travel. In 1975 she flew to New Zealand to see her father for the first time in 37 years. Her travels took her around the world to 14 different countries which included Australia, Singapore, Fiji, Thailand, Czech Republic, Turkey, as well as Lourdes and Rome.
After retirement Mum took up voluntary work at the Memorial Hospital, Shooters Hill, for 10 years and at the Age Concern pop-in parlour in Welling for 15 years. At St Stephen’s she had been a church cleaner for many years assisting with housekeeping duties along with cooking meals on occasions for Canon Jeremiah McCarthy and Fr Tim Nolan. Mum also worked in the repository and loved meeting all the families that came to church along with their children.
As a family we were proud to celebrate Mum and Dad’s 40th wedding anniversary in the New Forest and their 50th in Bath. Dad’s sudden and unexpected death in 2006 hit Mum hard. Spending time with her family, friends and neighbours took away some of the heartache as she continued to live her life to the full. Unfortunately, the effects of arthritis and rheumatism combined with her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s led to her decline so that by the summer of 2019 Mum moved to Groveland Park Care Home, Bexleyheath. Due to the COVID pandemic and the restrictions it brought, contact was limited with Mum for us all and sadly her decline continued.
Thank you, Mum, for everything. I am going to miss you so much.