Our beautiful mum


Family reflections of a precious wife,

mother, grandmother and great-grandmother

Phyll Newberry

26th April 1923 – 4th January 2010

Read at the Thanksgiving Service for her wonderful life

Llanishen Evangelical Church, Cardiff

 Monday 18th January 2010



Somehow we knew that there would not be a long time between standing here in this chapel paying tribute to our dear father and doing the same for our precious mother. They were inseparable in life and we believe they will be inseparable in death. They have been reunited in the presence of the God they love.

Our parents shared a beautiful poem, which they always regarded as their own. It is entitled ‘How do I love thee?’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and comes from her collection called Sonnets from the Portuguese. In it there is a line which reads…

I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears of all my life! And, if God choses,

I shall but love thee better after death.

God did choose and since 4th January that line has become a poignant reminder to us of two wonderful people that we had the privilege to call dad and mum. They will be in love forever!

Our mother was the heartbeat of our family. She really was the most remarkable lady. She was small in stature but a massive force for good in the lives of all who knew her. As a family we would all echo the words of Abraham Lincoln who once said

‘ All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my mother’

She was a humble lady; who lived simply and loved a lot. Mum and dad didn’t have much, especially in the early days of their marriage, but they shared everything they had with anybody they could. Just like our dad, mum’s main aim in life was to live in such a way that she honoured Jesus in all she did and she tried to show love to others as often as she could.

She showed her love in many ways

She showed her love by the way she loved and cared for our father. It is impossible to speak of one without the other, because they were one. Together they showed us what true love really was love. There is little doubt we enjoyed a number of extra years with our dad because of the wonderful way she looked after him throughout his life, but especially as he got older. She gave him extraordinary care, sorting out his countless pills and tablets, organising a host of doctors and hospital visits. We will always be grateful to her for the selfless love she always showed him. They were married for sixty-three years and she didn’t love him the same after all that time… she loved him much, much more!

Before meeting our dad, mum had a very tough life. She was an original ‘Girl from Tiger Bay’ and was born in Sophia Street in the very heart of Cardiff’s tough dockland area. Her father was an alcoholic, who suffered from a severe form of epilepsy and the effects of this made him treat his family in a very cruel way.

Mum often told us how scared she was when he became violent. She had a loving, caring mum and a wonderful brother and sister, Doris was older and her brother Bill was younger and she adored them both all the way through her life. Mum always told us her life began the day she met our father during the dark days of World War Two. It happened in a dance hall in Newport Road in Cardiff, when he was home on leave from serving his country. God obviously brought them together and despite many wartime dangers and difficulties, their romance blossomed and, as soon as they could after the war, they married.

God blessed them with sixty-three wonderfully happy years, three children, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren and each one of us adored this remarkable lady. Their love story is unique and an inspiration to us all. They lived for each other and many lives over many years have been touched for good by this special couple.

She showed her love by the way she cared for us, her children. She was caring, hardworking and totally devoted to us. She took in sewing when we were younger, helping to make ends meet; she was a dinner lady in our local school, went on to become a tax officer and eventually realised her dream and opened up a flower shop in Grangetown. This meant very early mornings and late nights, but she never complained. Mum and hard work were always close friends. She often reminded us that on the day the shop, which was called Flower Trend, opened in Paget Street, her dear friend Bill Davies – Brother Bill to most of us – called into the shop and prayed with them; what better way to launch a business venture. She opened the shop in the face of advice to the contrary, but mum knew best, and her hard work, her skills, and her positive nature made it a success.

She really believed her job helped others; whether it was a red rose to a loved one on Valentines Day or a little posy to a proud new mum, or a beautiful funeral tribute bringing comfort to someone grieving, she knew the joy that flowers could bring and she just loved bringing joy into other peoples’ lives.

She was selfless in the love for her family. We never once doubted her love. She used that love as a shield protecting us from the harsh things life often likes to throw at us. When things were tough with money worries, we never knew. Whenever she was ill and sometimes she was really ill, she would protect us from the worry and say that she was fine, never telling us when things were bad. We shared with you when we said goodbye to our father, that our childhoods were idyllic living here in Llanishen. We played in the street and in the local woods, built damns and caught fish and always got wet and at the end of the day we came home to our mum, whose love filled our home. It was so real you could almost feel it. Mum had a wonderful way of always knowing what was in our hearts and on our minds even before we had the chance to say anything.

She helped us realise our dreams, forgave us our mistakes and loved us unconditionally. As with our dad, we never needed to earn mums love and affection, she gave it freely and in generous amounts. It has been said that only a mother can share her love with all of her children, yet give each child undivided love. We found this to be true each and every day of our lives with her. How she did it will remain a secret. Mum never knew that statement, but lived it out from the very day she became a mum for the first time in 1947.

She showed her love by the way she nurtured her relationship with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She has a wonderful way of developing a unique relationship with each one.

She took an interest in what each one did, whether it was hearing about what things had happened in school or at work or at home. Even in the tough days of her last illness, she would still delight in hearing of what we had all been up to, when they went to visit her in hospital.

In late December, when she was really weak, she still found the strength to sing Happy Birthday on the phone to Gareth, just as she and dad had always done, without fail, when that special day arrived for each one of us. She rejoiced with us in our happy times, cried along side us in our sad times, comforted us when we were anxious and was always the rock on which we could depend – she really was the heartbeat of our family. She probably was the most positive person in the whole world. She never got down and if she did, she never ever showed us.

She showed her love in her devotion in her church. Mum became a Christian in 1949 shortly after dad. Both of their lives have been devoted to following God and working as part of the local church since that time.

During those years, countless lives have been touched by their love and kindness. In the early days of this church they ran boys and girls youth meeting in the evenings; teaching children and young people many different craft skills and sharing with them the truths of the Bible. They made their home available to the young people of the church and week after week on a Sunday evening, our home would be filled with youngsters chatting, singing and drinking endless cups of tea.

One day, Paul, our friend, arrived on our doorstep, suitcase in hand, needing a place to stay and he actually came to live with us on a permanent basis, such was their devotion to their church and their God.  Later on, she became a Girl Covenanter leader and worked with the girls with great energy and enthusiasm for many years. Some of the trophies she won still stand proudly on the wall in the back of the church. Look at them and smile on the way out!

When the church started a new youth work in recent years, mum got involved, and soon found a job looking after the tuck shop. At 80 plus years of age she was surely one of the oldest youth leaders around! What a role model for all of us who follow!

In Coffee Morning on a Thursday, mum always took her turn making the coffee and clearing up afterwards. She always prepared the flowers for the church, using the skills she learnt as a florist.

Like our dad, mum loved this church with a passion; whether it was called Llanishen Gospel Hall, Emmaus Chapel or Llanishen Evangelical Church, they loved it because it was God’s house and their main aim in life was to serve the God they loved.

Mum also showed her love by the way she cared for animals. Her love for animals started when, as a young girl, she owned a dog called Nell. She loved them all, especially all of our dogs; there was always a treat ready for them when they visited. She loved Helen’s horses, the other grandchildren’s rabbits and hamsters…anything! Whether they had four legs, two legs or as in Bobby’s case three legs, it made no difference, she loved them all. The birds in mum’s garden were the best fed birds in Wales and she would spend a fortune on coconuts, peanuts, and fat balls to make sure they had enough to eat all the way through the year. The birds were her friends and they would often eat out of her hands as her and Dad sat or worked quietly in the garden.

One thing is certain… sales of Take a Break, crossword books, cockles and clotted cream will be down in the coming weeks and months. Viewing figures for Emmerdale, Dancing on Ice and Coronation Street are already down by one these days. Those things she really loved!

She loved to travel as well and would often thrill us with the stories of her journeys to Greece, Spain, Yugoslavia, Israel, Egypt and many other places. Her love of holidays and travel has been passed down through the generations and we have all followed her lead and heeded her advice to ‘get out and see new places’.

Mum was loved by everyone in the small community where she lived. We are so grateful to see many of her friends and neighbours here with us this morning. Mum had a heart for people.

She was greatly loved and will be greatly missed by us her family, her fellow Christians, here in Llanishen and across Cardiff and also by her many friends and neighbours. Her passing has left a huge hole in the hearts and lives of all who knew and loved her.

For us the family chain has been broken the family chain has been broken, but we have the wonderful hope that mum is the second link in a new chain in heaven and one by one, as we join our beloved parents, that a new chain will link up again. We don’t like to say goodbye to the ones we love. We thank God for allowing her to see little Mia, her first great grand daughter and sixth great grandchild and also allowing us to share one last Christmas with our mum, and this year we realised again that the best of all gifts around any Christmas tree, is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.

If what the Bible says about heaven is true and we believe it is, one day we will meet again, reunited in the presence of our Saviour. It is right for us to weep but there is no need for us to despair. Mum suffered her; she has no suffering there. She struggled here; she has no struggles there. We might wonder why God took her home. Mum doesn’t! She understands; she is at this very moment at peace in the presence of God, reunited with our Dad, her precious husband.

If we had the chance to listen carefully on the day that she died, as we shed those tears of grief, we would have heard the still, small voice of God saying to our mum…

“Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord…Jacks been waiting for you…

Goodbye mum!

She is gone.

We can shed tears that she is gone

or we can smile because she has lived.

We can close our eyes and pray that she’ll come back

or we can open our eyes and see all that she’s left for us to remember.

Our hearts can be empty because we can’t see her

or they can be full of the love we shared together.

We can turn our back on tomorrow and live for yesterday

or we can be happy for tomorrow because of our yesterdays.

We can remember her and only that she’s gone
 or we can cherish her memory and let it live on.

We can cry and close our minds, be empty and turn our backs

or we can do what she would want:


Open our eyes,

Love each other…

…and go on.

Grow old along with me ~ the best is yet to come!

Diamond Anniversary Speech

The speech delivered by Roger Newberry at the Diamond Wedding Anniversary of my parents on 29th June 2006. The celebration was held at The Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant in Bassaleg, near Newport.



The Time is Now

If you are ever going to love me,
Love me now, while I can know
The sweet and tender feelings
Which from true affection flow.
Love me now
While I am living.
Do not wait until I’m gone
And then have it chiselled in marble,
Sweet words on ice-cold stone.
If you have tender thoughts of me,
Please tell me now.


So let’s do that now!!

It’s hard to put into words the feelings of our hearts today. 60 years of marriage is a remarkable achievement and we are here to honour you for it tonight.

Dad and mum , we as a family, want to thank you for being the most remarkable parents. The fact that your love has, day after day continued to grow and that we your family are not just family but best friends and are probably closer now than we have ever been, speaks volumes about the example that you have set for us to follow.

Sir Isaac Newton is attributed with a famous quote. You will see it on the side of a one pound coin…Standing on the shoulders of giants…. It appeared first in a letter written by him to a fellow scientist Robert Hooke on 5th February 1676, where he very modestly claimed that his success had been largely built on the previous hard work and achievements of others:

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”.

Tonight, John, Joy and I feel like Sir Isaac Newton as we are doing just that and now as our children, your grandchildren, begin to have families of their own, we see again the importance of the solid foundations your love has given us and impact that your love has had upon all our lives.

When you leave this earthly scene, be assured that the influence of the love you share with each other will continue to be felt in the lives of our children and our children’s children and their children in turn.

Growing up in your care has been the most wonderful experience for us. Life in our home in Llanishen was idyllic. We had a mum who devoted herself to looking after us and our home, a dad who worked so hard for his family. A man who cycled home on his bike, with handlebars laden with off-cuts of wood for the fire. As very young children we would await his call of ….’Dad’s home’…  before running to meet the wonderful man who was our father and be cuddled by his rough carpenter’s hands!

We had many happy days of excitement, like the day dad bought his first motorbike – a B.S.A. Bantam, registration number FBO 717, or our first car a little green ‘Sit up and beg’ Ford Anglia, MTX 292, which couldn’t get up Caerphilly mountain!

We had many friends, a safe street in which to play, the woods and fields nearby and at the end of the day, we came back to the security of a home filled with love and care and a dad and mum who so obviously loved each other and loved us with a passion.

We realise now that times were often tough for you – but we never knew – you protected us from all that. We always had holidays, sometimes  with very little to live on for the whole family, but we never missed a year from Broadhaven to Blue Anchor from Watchet to West Wales, you gave us so many happy memories and produced children and grandchildren who have travelled the world inspired by you.

As we turn back the pages of our lives, wherever we look, we see the same things that you gave us as our parents…

  • Unselfish love
  • Encouragement
  • A belief in us and
  • A willingness to support us in whatever we tried to do!

We also look back with affection at our extended family – our church family. Many from the church are here tonight to share this special celebration. Thank you all for the special part you have had to play in the lives of my dad and mum and in our lives too.

Those early pioneering days were very special and many happy friendships were made, Gordon Trew, The Throwers, Aubrey and Lilian Roberts, Bill and Ruby Dobbs, Charles and Eileen Hallet, Jim and Ruby Orr, Billy and Gladys Williams and Shaun Ryan…

Our home was constantly open to the young people of the church and many nights were spent singing and having fun. But for one young man in particular our home became his home. We ‘adopted’ a young man named Paul Pace. He was a young lad from a broken home on the other Llanishen estate. He became like a son to you and a brother to us.

So as the formal part of the evening begins to draw to a close, I look around and see so many of you who have loved and supported dad and mum through these sixty years… brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces and many friends  – and I am sure I speak on behalf of you all when I say, a huge thank you to you dad and mum for all you have done and indeed all you have yet to do for us all. As your children we want to say, from the bottom of our hearts, a huge thank you for your inspirational love.

When I conduct a marriage ceremony ~ and it was probably said at your wedding back in 1946 ~ I always say

‘Marriage is a beautiful picture of the relationship between Christ and His church.’

I always tell the happy couple what this means in reality is that when we model our marriage on Christ’s love, that the bride needs to love her new husband enough to live completely for him and the groom needs to love his wife enough to die for her just as Christ died for the church.

Dad and mum, you are the best examples of that love we have ever seen! We love you so much and pray that you may you have many more years to enjoy your special love together.

Congratulations on your special day.

May God richly bless you both.