Spibey, Freda (nee Bridge) 1914-2010
A wonderful teacher and great “amateur” historian of Methodism, is how Susan Spibey described her mother, whose obituary, given below, appeared in The Methodist Recorder.
Freda Spibey was born at Highfield Farm Newton-le-Willows on 11 September 1914, five weeks before the start of the First World War. In a recent compilation of her early years, she wrote about her parents and their life together at Highfield Farm, where they had a hard but fulfilling life. The Bridge “clan” farmed much of the land in this area, as tenant farmers for Lord Newton.
The Bridges were part of the early Primitive Methodist movement and together with the Boydell and Worsley families [also farmers] built the early Churches in Golborne and Lowton, following the establishment of local house fellowships in the early 1800s. This is recorded in the book “A Little Primitive” written by Rev Dr Kenneth Lysons, a close family friend. Her daughter Susan now lives in the original Trinity Methodist Church in Golborne built in 1853 which is featured in “A Little Primitive”.
The family also ran a Grocer’s shop in Golborne, close to the Church. Freda took over the shop on the early death of her mother in 1943. She married Ernest Spibey on 11 December 1940 and in less than one week after their marriage, Ernest left for India to serve with the Royal Artillery in Campaigns in the Middle East, North Africa and Italy, not returning home until September 1945.
The Church and local community were central to Freda’s life. She had an unswerving concern for the welfare of others and a desire to include everyone. She served the Church and the wider Community through various pioneering activities. She set up the first pre-school play group and was still running it when she was 72 years old. She reinstated the Rose Queen at Trinity Methodist Church and helped run the famous “Spibey’s Disco” launched in the early 60s for 11-15 year olds, which is still talked about in Golborne with great affection. It is planned to hold a “Tribute Disco” in 2011 to help move forward local community activities.
Freda Spibey was National Childrens’ Home Area Secretary for 45 years, taking groups to the Festival of Queens around the North West, she was Methodist Womens’ Network Representative, Church Council Member, Sunday School Teacher and organiser of Annual Outings to Southport and other seaside places, Christmas Markets, Sunday School New Year Parties and Fundraising Church Dinners. Freda regularly took the opportunity to broaden her horizons beyond these shores, frequently visiting her daughters when they lived abroad: Susan in Belgium and Italy, Christine in Malta and Germany.
Her voracious appetite for the written word encouraged her to memorise many poems which she would recite at the drop of a hat. At the age of 93 she even took over as Secretary of the Newton Women’s Fellowship and very much enjoyed not only the weekly meetings, but also the challenge of finding topics and speakers to provide an interesting programme. Reading the Methodist Recorder for decades, she also completed the crossword, the last being the week before she died.
Music in every form was important in Freda’s life. She was blessed with a beautiful soprano voice, singing solo on many occasions with Choral Societies in Oratorios and in Church. At the Service to celebrate her life’s work, the Hymn [often called the Methodist Anthem] This This is the God we Adore, was sung twice to reinforce the message.
Her enthusiasm for life, her genuine smile, infectious laugh, and her desire to keep learning about the world kept her alert and interested in everything and everyone right until the end. Her determination to make things happen, even if that meant having to tell others what they should do, has already moved on to the next generation!
With her daughters living close by, Susan in the original Church and Christine in the Shop, the community continues to be brought together through the organisation of many charity fundraising events.
Freda Spibey touched the lives of many people and constantly strove to make a difference, for it was all in service of her Lord and Maker with whom she is now enjoying heavenly fellowship.
Freda Spibey 11 September 1914 – 1 June 2010