Well, of course, I would say that, wouldn’t I!
The genealogy of the Milbourn side of the family has always been a bit of a mystery, but my mother’s family, the Hoeys, are a mix of French and Irish heritage. So, large families, migrant mentality, Catholic through-and-through, salt of the earth, blue collar.
She was one of, in fact, she was the first of “the glamorous Hoey girls”, as one lady described them to me recently — the Hoey sisters Doris, Joan, Isabelle, Leo, Margarite and Elaine.
The first generation of the Hoey family who were not going to be “in service”.
That’s her at the age of 18. She was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous — wasn’t she?
And the thing about my mother was that she was lovely on the inside too. Warm smile. Warm eyes. Warm Heart.
Looking back now I can see she was rather a reserved person, maybe even a little cautious. A real life persona that doesn’t, at all, tie in with the self-assured, and confident person you see in the picture. Perhaps life changed her, I don’t know.
But she was gentle. A very soft and kind person. And she lived for her husband and family. A very typical 1950s housewife. She saw dad off to work every morning, and welcomed him home at the door, every night.
When I was about 10, for Mother’s Day one year I bought her a hideous plastic trophy — the kind of present only a mother could love — and on it were inscribed the following words “The World’s #1 Mum”. She treasured that trophy all her life, as if it had been made from solid gold.
One of my earliest memories of her was when I was about five. I looked into the pram to see my newborn sister, and accidentally tipped her on the floor. I was in panic mode, not knowing how it happened, but knowing I’d done something awful. She simply bent down, picked us both up, then kissed and cuddled us until we both stopped crying.
It’s seventy years later, but I can remember that warmth, and sense of security, to this day.