Remembering Ethel, a linchpin of the parish

Ethel Richardson with her husband John.
Ethel Richardson with her husband John.

A VILLAGE church was packed to the rafters as old friends bid a fond farewell to one of its most devoted servants.

Unassuming Ethel Richardson was a linchpin of the Mitford parish for almost 20 years as she supported her husband, the late Reverend John Richardson OBE, in his duties as vicar of St Mary Magdalene Church.

Following her death at the age of 90 last week, the community came together to remember the quiet mother-of-three, who was known for always having a smile on her face.

Mrs Richardson was born the daughter of a pit pony keeper in Ryton in 1920. A trained nurse, she met her husband-to-be in her home town, where he also grew up, but the couple always had an affinity towards Northumberland and courted in and around Morpeth.

They were married in Ryton in 1942 when Mr Richardson was serving as a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy. He left the service after the Second World War but soon returned as a chaplain and the couple moved to Alnwick.

They had three children, Paul, Christine and the late Malcolm, and in 1966 the family moved to Mitford, where the Rev Richardson, who was known as Jack, took up his post.

Mrs Richardson worked tirelessly for the parish, organising tea parties, fetes and running the Mothers’ Union, as well as working as a volunteer to help the nursing staff at St George’s Hospital.

She was keen to stay behind the scenes, leaving the limelight to her husband, who was a well-known author and raconteur, but she proudly accompanied him to Buckingham Palace in the late 1960s when he received his OBE.

The couple stayed in Mitford until the Rev Richardson’s retirement in 1982, when they moved to Blagdon and Mrs Richardson was able to devote more time to her hobbies of embroidery and baking.

Following her husband’s death in 1992, she returned to the Morpeth area to live at St Christopher’s Court, where she remained until shortly before her death.

Her funeral was held in Mitford on Monday.

Son Paul paid tribute to his mother.

“My father was quite a character, but he could only do what he did because of the quiet work that my mother did — she was the quiet stalwart,” he said.

“She did a lot of work for the church and became a well-known person in Mitford for her good work for the community and her uncomplaining, selfless manner. She used to make all the teas for the church and liked to make everybody happy. She was a typical vicar’s wife and was behind all of the church functions. She was a linchpin of the community.

“She worked her knuckles to the bone and if sometimes my father came home and said he had invited 300 people round the next day, she would just get on with it and prepare for 300 people coming round.

“She was a lovely, quiet woman who always had a smile on her face.”