In Loving Memory of
My Darling Maureen
May 24th 1941 - March 27th 2007
She was the love of my life
and had a gift from God...
She could listen!
Maureen took the pain and suffering from children, their parents,
fellow teachers, family, friends, fans and even strangers. She
listened, counselled, gave hope, love and understanding until
she could take no more and God has now taken her to rest, but
knowing my darling Maureen she is already counselling Elvis in
her wonderful, new, Blue Suede Heaven. RIP my love!
Maureen in 1999 before she got ill.
Maureen & actress Jay Griffiths 1975. She taught at Harlesden Primary for 28 years.
Audley and Raychel's wedding Jamaica Aug 05.
The wedding, Jamaica Aug 05, the last time Maureen was well.
Luckily upgraded and waiting to fly to Memphis in the 1980's.
I have been devastated by the loss of my darling Maureen. She was the love of my life and died at 1.20am on March 27th in the Peace Hospice, Watford, England as I kissed and held her hand. We were together 34 years and devoted to each other. At family gatherings we would still sit holding hands even in our 60s and in everyday life.
Having defeated breast cancer in June 2005 after five years of operations, treatments and drugs we were planning for a great future. At last we could work together to rebuild ‘Elvisly Yours’ as I had to take more and more time off work to care for Maureen when she was fighting the dreaded disease. But, in March 2006 she had thrombosis for the second time.
She took the drug Warfarin and had to give blood every week to determine the dose of Warfarin needed to balance her blood. She had bad side effects from the drug and blamed her deteriorating health on Warfarin. Even though she was losing weight, found it difficult to swallow and had painful indigestion three different doctors at out local GP never bothered to examine her. Nurses at the GP or Hospital never questioned her weight loss or how ill she felt, they just took blood. In desperation I went with her February 27th to see doctor no.4 who immediately asked whether any doctor had examined Maureen’s stomach, none had; then she found a large lump. The doctor arranged for tests and scans but the results were not given until March 21st. Her sister Pat came to our home to help me nurse Maureen until the end and Pat was a great help and comfort.
They kept Maureen waiting at the Hospital for the results for three hours to tell her she had, in effect, a ‘death sentence’. Cancer had spread to her liver, bones, oesophagus, lungs and stomach. She was in so much pain they had to give her a bed yet still kept her waiting another hour. Because of the pain she had they prescribed a powerful painkiller and she lost the power of speech by the next day. Maureen walked into our home on the afternoon of March 21st, had a cup of tea then went to bed to rest; by March 27th at 1.20am she was dead as I kissed and held her hand. Her death was so sudden, so dramatic from the diagnosis just a few days before.
Thankfully, we got her into a Hospice for her last few hours. But, she died in agony because a District Nurse who was supposed to come to our home on the Sunday to administer more powerful drugs to her as the pain intensified phoned instead. She refused to come saying “Maureen was okay”. But, from about midnight Maureen would wake in agony. I would lift her to relive the pain then lay her down and caress her badly swollen legs and feet until she fell asleep and this happened every 30 minutes, all night until I could phone a Macmillan Nurse at 7am who arranged for our doctor to come at 9am to sedate Maureen and relieve the agony she was going through.
I am describing all the details because I don’t want others to suffer like Maureen suffered. If you are concerned about your health or that of a loved one make a fuss, demand the services you need, ask for tests and scans. We just did not think cancer had returned so soon and with such a vengeance. Maureen just thought it was the Warfarin and I went along with that idea, even though all the signs were there that cancer had returned, especially with weight loss.
I have been to see my Member of Parliament to discuss the NHS negligence that led to Maureen’s death. My MP James Clappison lost both his parents to cancer and he was sympathetic and understanding. He has been helpful and written to the Health Authority for answers. It won’t bring Maureen back but will hopefully stop gross negligence of others in Britain’s Health Service. Britain has the worst survival rates for cancer victims in Europe and I can see why having experienced Maureen’s very poor treatment and NHS negligence in the previous 12 months.
Maureen was half of Elvisly Yours, the better half. She always was behind the scenes, quiet, listening, advising and helping. For the first two years of the company’s existence her teacher’s salary kept the business going until it took off dramatically in 1979/80. I now want to do all the things we planned together, thinking and hoping she would get better. In fact, her very last Valentine card to me on February 14th 2007 she wrote, “I love you and I will get better”. You can read Maureen's life story by clicking the link: Text of Memorial Brochure
Maureen was instrumental in planning and agreeing the designs of the wonderful, new “Elvis Talking Clock”, other clocks and superb watches that have now been launched with Zeon Ltd, Britain’s largest distributor of timepieces. She was going to go on our Worldwide Elvis Concert Tour from October 2007. We had planned “Elvis Karaoke Tours” of London from our shop on Baker Street.
We even talked of resurrecting the “Elvisly Yours” magazine that ceased publication in 1992. All these things need the help of you, the fans; without you supporting us we cannot expand and progress. Every “Elvis Talking Clock” sold or Elvis sunglasses, Elvis book or Elvis magic mug helps finance Worldwide Concert Tours, Karaoke Tours of London and keeps the memory of Elvis alive. We have been doing this ever since I made the first bust of Elvis in our garage in 1978 to help fund our tribute to Elvis, our life size bronze statue of the “King” that resides at 233 Baker Street, London.
In Maureen's memory we are raising money for the Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre and if we reach £5,000.00 LJMC will name a "Counselling Room" after Maureen at the Cancer Centre. Maureen was probably Britain's best counsellor and the world's best listener. We had reached £1,471.00 but an old Elvis friend from the early 1980’s, Hazel Tomlin, held a “Maureen Night” at her local pub and raised £530.00. When you add together £1471.00 and £530.00 you get the magic total of £2001.00!!! Thanks go on the night to Tracey Bell of the Red Lion Pub, Enfield who donated £100.00 for an auctioned cardboard cut-out even though she only bid £70.00. Even more money has since been raised.
I would like to thank all the fans and friends who have written to me from all over the world sending condolences. Some of their tributes can be viewed at the end of this feature. Special thanks are due to Bill and Connie Burk who very kindly dedicated their latest issue of “Elvis World” to Maureen and also highlighted the Appeal for the cancer charity in Maureen’s memory. Shortly after honouring Maureen, Bill suffered his own bereavement with the loss of his dear mother after a long illness. Our sympathies go to Bill and Connie and his family. Special thanks to three American "Elvis World" families who have donated to the Cancer Appeal in Maureen’s memory: Bill and Connie Burk, Paul & Joan Gansky, Howard and Shirley Dvorin. Other American Elvis fans who met Maureen and/or appreciate all Elvisly Yours has done over the many years are welcome to donate. You can donate online or send a cheque. LJMC can even accept US dollar checks;
Elvisly Yours, Park House, 15-23 Greenhill Crescent, Watford WD18 8PH, England.
Make the cheque payable to the “Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre”, and write on the back, “In memory of Maureen”, thank you.
The Funeral and Memorial Services
The funeral service was beautiful and very unlike most funerals. It was a Humanist Funeral and was a celebration of Maureen's life. It was led by Humanist Cynthia Ibry. She had perfect tone and perfect presentation as she told the life story of Maureen with great dignity and respect. Her notes were taken from my Memorial Brochure. Martyn and Sue Dias (Elvis Shmelvis) were wonderful and helped with the sound and music for the Funeral and Memorial Services.
The Funeral Service hit the exact blend I wanted. The hearse was filled with part of her large collection of teddy bears and soft toys and they surrounded the casket in Kensal Green Crematorium. There was a beautiful mixture of tribute, music, poems, stories all meaningful and with deep affection from family, friends, a fellow teacher and a pupil. It ended with Elvis Shmelvis saying the Jewish prayer, "Kaddish". The service started with me describing and demonstrating how Maureen would wave her arms in the air to "We Will Rock You " by Queen which was played to start the service. She loved the "King" but also loved "Queen". Amazingly Freddie Mercury was also cremated at Kensal Green Crematorium. The funeral ended as with Elvis' concerts in the 1970s with "Can't Help Falling In Love" As people said their goodbyes to Maureen they each placed one rose on the casket as they filed past. All the congregation were in tears, men as well as women. Maureen never knew how much she was loved by everyone and always lacked confidence in her abilities except her ability to listen.
The Memorial Service was held one hour later at Harlesden Primary School where Maureen taught for 28 years. The school hall was covered with Maureen's photos and achievements, and featured her life story. The Memorial Service was fun and upbeat, just like I planned and Elvis Shmelvis' entertainment made for a memorable day. Audley Harrison cancelled all his arrangements in America where he now lives with his wife and daughter and came to the Funeral with his father. He spoke at the Memorial Service of how scared he was of Mrs Bird, not "fear" but that he could not reach her expectations of him. Jay Griffiths the actress spoke and read a poem through her tears at the funeral, as did a fellow teacher Carol Morton. My sister Sylvia read out a letter she had written in Toronto for my birthday March 28th...Maureen died March 27th but Sylvia flew from Toronto for the funeral. Cynthia read out Maureen's sister Pat's Tribute at the funeral. My neices Janine and Annette spoke of their love for Auntie Maureen. Suzie Kennedy (Marilyn Monroe) dropped everything at short notice to be at the funeral and spoke at the Memorial Service. She said how kind she found Maureen and always loved her chats with her. A dear friend and old business associate Bob Moon came and he survived cancer three times, a living legend. He spoke at the Memorial Service about his cancer battles and had arranged prayer circles for Maureen before she died. My oldest friend Alan Fitterman who I have known for 57 years spoke about the fun times we had together and how much he enjoyed having long chats with Maureen. Sue Wentford's (a former pupil) daughter read her mother's Tribute to Maureen at the Memorial Service and several people from her school spoke including Christine who was taught by Maureen and a parent of children Maureen taught. I am very grateful to all the family and friends that attended the Funeral and Memorial Service.
Below is the announcement published on Elvisly Yours regarding arrangements for Maureen's Funeral and Memorial Service.
Maureen’s Funeral & Memorial Service
Thursday April 5th 2007
Maureen will be cremated at
Kensal Green Crematorium
Thursday April 5th at 11am.
Then, immediately after the funeral there will be a Memorial Service at
Harlesden Primary School
1 pm – 2 pm
Refreshments will be provided after the Memorial Service.
Maureen worked at Harlesden Primary School for 26 years and counselled thousands of children, their parents and teachers. Amazingly the current head of the school was a new teacher at Harlesden in the late 1980s and said when she first started teaching she had a difficult time with the children but Maureen was so kind, helping her through her bad days, giving counsel, support and advice.
Instead of flowers we are asking each person who attends the funeral to bring just one rose to place on the casket as they pay their last respects to Maureen at the end of the non religious service. Instead of a wreath or bouquet of flowers people can make a donation to the "Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre" for Cancer Support. This is the "Elvisly Yours" designated charity since Maureen developed breast cancer in March 2000 and they have been very kind counselling Maureen ever since.
People who cannot attend the funeral can still send one rose and make a donation to the
"Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre":
A Rose for Maureen:
Please send your single rose to:
"In memory of Maureen"
Nethercott & Son Ltd
20 Aldenham Road
Herts WD7 7JL
(to arrive by Wednesday April 4th 2007)
Make a donation to Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre:
Send a cheque or money order payable to:
“Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre”
c/o Elvisly Yours
233 Baker Street
London NW1 6XE
Write on back of the cheque/money order "In memory of Maureen".
Our shop will be closed all day on April 5th 2007 in respect of Maureen.
Credit Card donations:
Just click “Lynda Jackson Macmillan Centre” and follow instructions to make credit card donations to the charity.
Maureen’s Funeral and Memorial Service will be a celebration of her life and reflect how she touched so, so many people all her life with personal tributes from family, friends, teachers she worked with and children she taught and helped in so many ways, all mixed with lots of music of the “King” and a little bit of “Queen”…She was loved by everyone and just like Elvis she was a gift from God.
If you have personal memories of Maureen you would like to share please be kind enough to enter your comments on:
My Memories of Maureen
known as Mrs Bird to all the children she taught
P.S. I am sorry if fans orders have been delayed, phone calls not returned and emails unanswered. I will get back to all of you after the funeral.