Kathleen Winifred Gatens,
known as 'Kath' or 'Kate' to friends and family
Born 8th November 1940 in
Ware, Hertfordshire, UK.
Mum to sons Paul and Mark.
Sister to Ronny, David, Sylvia and Sheila. Wife to Peter. Mother-in-law
to Julie and Tess. Nan to Ben, Joey, Beth and Martin. Granny to Cruden.
And friend to many that she knew over the years.
Passed away on 13th September 2016 at Llandrindod Wells Hospital and County War Memorial in Powys, Wales.
Born in Ware, lived in Cheshunt. Married Dad (Peter Gatens) and together brought a house in Hoddesdon (25 Admirals Walk) before
retiring at the age of 48 to Newbridge-on-Wye in Powys.
Mum and Dad had a enjoyable long retirement together in Wales and travelled lots in the UK.
Dads health deteriorated in 2010 and he was finally taken from us in
Mum was born on 8th November 1940 as the first child of
Albert and Emily Warren and as a young family they lived in Park Lane Waltham Cross with grand parents.
Mum was Born with fluid behind the ear drum, early operation
to overcome this issue at Hertford hospital lead to Mum having partial hearing for the rest of her life and the need to wear hearing aids.
The School years
41 Franklin Avenue had been bombed at the endof the war and the family had now grown in size with Mum, Ronny, Sheila and Sylvia moving in to the house that had just been rebuilt, it was a few years later that youngest Brother David was born at Franklin Avenue.
There were lots of kids in a round the ‘Avenue’ and Mum was often at play with her friends, Eve and younger sister Margaret; Pat Hicks; Wendy Dedham and sisters Sheila and Sylvia to name a few.
Mum went to St Mary’s Girls School in Dewhurst Lane, Cheshunt with Pat and Eve and a number of other friends. Eve was a few months older and in the year above.
All the little local girls were taken to school by two elder twin girls who lived in the ‘Avenue’, they were the‘Burgess Twins’ and could often be seen taking care of the younger kids or escorting them to St Mary’s or to Sunday school in the labour hall.
After leaving St Mary’s, Mum and most of her friends went on to the Cheshunt Secondary Modern which was a church school.
Many stories surround the Cheshunt central cinema at the Old Pond (fondly known as the ‘bug hutch’) Saturday morning matinee was a favourite. Ronny and Pat both recalled an old lady called Mrs Barnes who got all the kids warmed up before the film started, by getting them all singing.
Mark and I suspect that it was in later years that this is where Mum met
Ronny told a nice story of Mum taking him down on the bus to visit they nanny Jackson, who lived above the family undertaker’s business in Hoxton, London. Ronny recalled that Nanny Jackson would always give them both a cold kipper each to eat on the bus journey home.
Sylvia recalls that another firm favourite activity in the winter was sliding on the ice on a lake on a rough piece of ground called the lordship, in their shoes. A little girl fell through the ice once and Pat had to rescue her from the icy cold water. David also told me he once fell through the
ice on the same lake and couldn’t get out as the ice kept braking.
Many local girls, after leaving school worked in one of the many local nurseries as the Lea Valley was a well-known as a market garden area that grew fruit, vegetables and flowers. Mum worked for Stephens in Goffs lane, (with her friend Pat) that specialised in Roses. Mum would get up early in the morning and cycle up Goffs lane to do a morning shift. Cycling back home to have breakfast and then heading back to work. Needless to say, Mum had a healthy appetite and was fondly called ‘Hobbley Gobbley’ by her Dad (Albert), I can attribute that story to Ronny.
Ronny also told me a story about an early boyfriend that Mum had, he was from Liverpool and just out of the Army and Albert took a shine to him and often treated him to a drink or two at the pub (As Albert had just come out of the Army himself). Ronny wasn’t keen on this boyfriend and he soon turned out to be a bit of a rascal as he broke open the gas meter and stole the money and ran off with one of Ronny’s best jackets and was never seen again.
Luckily, Mums tastes in men improved after that experience.
When most of Mums friends were into Elvis Presley, Mums musical heart throb around this time was Tommy Steele.
Early Married life in Hoddesdon
When Mum met Dad she was 16 and a couple of years later they got married when Mum was 18 and Dad was 23 at St Marys church Cheshunt, 26th Sept 1958.
Both worked hard to save up a deposit so that they could buy
their first small terrace house at 25 Admirals walk, in Hoddesdon.
David told me a strange story, that neither Mark or I had heard
before, about the first pet that Mum and Dad had - a Magpie.
Mums brother David had got a baby magpie from a nest and delivered it to Dads Mums home (in Endeavour road, Cheshunt), Dad brought the magpie with him when they moved into Admirals walk and they had it for a couple of years until one day it escaped, circling twice before finally flying off into the distance. Not sure what Mum thought of a magpie as a pet.
Life at Admirals walk was never dull or lonely in the early years as they had many a long term guest.
I believe, first of all, John and Evelyn moved in and one of the adventure they had together was as John and Evelyn recall a camping trip to
Clacton in two Bond mini cars that John and Dad had. Progress must have been slow as all they had was a 197cc engine and they had stop half way down to Clacton and sleep in the cars!
Pat and Harry also moved in for 18 months to save a deposit and while there it sounds as if they had a great time too! All four went on a camping trip to Rodney Stoke in Somerset in Harry’s car. All the camping gear was made on Pats sewing machine and Dad got some blackout canvas to use for the tent. The first time they
slept in it, they didn’t get up till the afternoon as it was so dark in the
tent! Pat also recalled that one night they all went out and got drunk on the local cider for a whole 1 shilling! Pat
and Harry moved out when mum was pregnant with me in to a house in Blindmans lane, Cheshunt.
Mums primary form of transport, was the humble cycle during the
early days and she was frequently seen cycling from one end of Hoddesdon to the other. It wasn’t till much later (just
before retiring to Wales) that she passed her driving test and was able to drive automatic cars
Other than the cycle the main mode of transportation in the
early 1960s was the motorcycle and most of Mums friends were transported around on the back of boyfriends or husband’s bikes.
I remember stories of Norton motorcycles being rebuilt in the living
room at Admirals walk and also of many an old motorcycle ending its day being buried at the garden at Admirals walk.
Mum was very tolerant of boys hobbies over the years.
When mark and I turned up, the solution to transporting a family
around was to add a double adult sidecar to side of Dads pride and joy Norton Dominator. There was one story that was kept from Mum and that was when Dad took the outfit out with just me in the sidecar and I stood up on the seat with my head out of the roof and face in the wind.
Dad use to recall that story to me and always claimed we were doing a
100mph and I best not tell mum.
Motorcycles continued to be part of Mum and Dads life and in
the mid 1980’s they set off what at time was a big adventure indeed and headed to Greece for a 3 week motorcycle trip on their BWM, going via Yugoslavia. Mark and I were both impressed with our parent’s sense of adventure as previous to this they had never been out of the UK.
My friend Geoff recalls a time In Dads later years when Dad returned to motorcycling after a break and purchased a 2011 Royal Enfield with a Watsonian sidecar, which had little use and was more of a toy Dad tinkered with on the drive. On one occasion, he did take it out and
managed to convince mum to go in the sidecar for the first time for ages. This was when myself and Geoff came down to Wales on our bikes. At one stage Dad was busy taking in the glorious Welsh scenery and entered a corner too fast and as Geoff was following he saw Dad skilfully lift the sidecar and go around on two wheels with Mum up in the air. Although Geoff was impressed with dads skills, I can say the same of Mum.
Paul turns up
In 1961 Mum fell pregnant with me and I was born in May of
1962 as a young mother she spent time with kay who had my cousin Stephen at the time (a year later) and Mum and Kay with baby both spent a fair bit of time to together.
Mark turns up
It was 3 years later when mark was born
Working life in Hoddesdon
While working at old people’s home in Churchfields, Mum often worked on Sundays and us boys were left to Dads cooking skills. Goulash was always what Dad cooked for us boys on Sundays. Glad to say that later on his cooking skills improved to include the Sunday roast.
For a while Mum worked as a cleaner in the Red Lion Pub in Hoddesdon with Peter and Pat the landlords, Daughter Linda and Freda the cleaner.
She spent a while as cleaner at Pauls school
More important to us growing boys was when Mum started working as a dinner lady at the School and second helpings were the order of the day. It was at this time I got the nickname of ‘Gutsy Gatens’.
Before Mum and dad retired, Mum spent several years as a local home help, attending to the elderly of Hoddesdon and again cycling between jobs.
Life with teenage boys
Christmas was always a good time, either lots of family visiting or at other times us visiting family. One Christmas mark recalled the time dad brought a duck home for Christmas meal. Trouble was it was still
alive. There was some discussion between mum and Dad and the duck spent the whole of Christmas happily swimming around our kitchen sink, before dad took it back to where he found it after.
Mums was well known for her baking and many a coffee cake; Guinness cake or banana bread was made.
Banana bread was a particular favourite and Mum could never figure out why we got through so much of it. It was down to fact that it turned out
Dogs and cats
While Mark and I were at home we first had an old cat called fluffy and then Smuttie. While we had Smuttie, Mum and dad got Waggy, our first dog. I think Waggy went with them to Wales and died soon after. It wasn’t long before Worcester, a Jack Russel was taken on and accompanied Mum and dad on many adventures around the country. Unfortunately,Wooster died prematurely when he fell over a cliff. Mum and Dad were very upset and it was a few weeks after that I came across a Jack Russell/ Staffordshire terrier cross which had been run over outside the gypsy camp on the A414 and lost a leg. A friend (Bingo Bob) was looking after the dog while looking for a home. Charlie as
she became known soon adapted to the loss of a leg and was taken on my Mum and Dad. We don’t know how old Charlie, is but think she could be over 13 years of age. We never expected Charlie to outlive mum.
Mum and Charlie were a familiar sight in and around Newbridge.
Retirement to wales
Through careful planning, Dad was able to take early retirement at 52 (Mum was 48) and they looked to downsize and relies money tied
up in the house in Admirals Walk. They spent a good year travelling the country looking for the ideal place to retire to. After looking in Scotland, they then looked at North Wales. Several properties fell through before they stumbled across Powys and at first looked to Rhayader before
finally settling on Newbridge on Wye. They purchased 12 Sychpant in September 1984
Life in Wales.
Laidback life in Wales seemed ideal for Mum and Dad. Mum soon got into local community and through membership of the WI, local camera club with dad they soon became welcome and accepted part of Newbridge.
Lots of travelling the country in their little camper van with Wooster at the side at first and later years with the three legged Charlie they enjoyed their retirement to the full together until Dad was taken from us in Dec 2011.
Mum then started a new phase of her life which brought out a different side to her, courage, independent and keen to make a new life for herself.
Although Paul was keen to move her back to Hertfordshire, so that he could care for her in her later years, Mum still had too much strength and was enjoying this new found freedom, with two trips to
New Zealand to see Mark, Julie, Martin, Beth and Cruden.