3:43pm Wednesday 18th April 2012
By Jennifer Meierhans
HUNDREDS joined together to remember murdered Bewdley school teacher, Betty Yates, as a fun-loving woman with a twinkle in her eye.
Laughter and applause filled St Anne’s Church today, when more than 400 people, packed out pews and the aisle, to hear heart-warming tales of the life of “Beautiful Bet from Bewdley”.
The service, by the Reverend Keith James, was a celebration of the life of Mrs Yates, who was found stabbed to death in her riverside cottage, off Dowles Road, on January 2.
In a letter to the congregation, Mrs Yates’ children Hazel Costello and David Yates said: “Whilst we cannot change the circumstances in which our mum died, we can join together today to celebrate her life. So let's all sing up for Beautiful Bet from Bewdley.”
Mrs Costello, a solicitor from Staffordshire, smiled bravely as she told the church her mother and father, Ray, enjoyed nearly 50 years of a “joined at the hip marriage”.
The place errupted into laughter as she shared uplifting stories of her thrifty upbringing - going on camping holidays in an old Austin nicknamed Airtex, due to its abundance of holes, the phone no one dared answer for fear of getting a bill and their mother’s sneaky trick of serving up heart and calling it steak.
David Yates, a delivery driver from Berkshire, remembered how his parents transformed Riverscroft, the cottage where Mrs Yates was murdered, into “their own personal Garden of Eden.”
After his father died in 2005: “There was never any question in her mind that she would stay at the cottage - it was where she felt closest to Dad.”
Friend Lesley Betts told of a camping trip when Mrs Yates lost her tent for two hours, only to find it in a carrier bag. Mrs Yates also baked her a cake for her silver wedding - but admitted it had rolled across the floor when she dropped it. The tribute ended with a wink - the mannerism Mrs Yates will always be remembered by.
Teaching colleague George Perkin described Mrs Yates’ unique Smartie factory method of teaching arithmetic: “If you were successful, you ate the answer in Smarties. However complicated the sum, the answer always seemed to be one.”
He said after retiring from the former St John’s Middle School, in Kidderminster, Mrs Yates put up wanted posters of herself lying in the hammock she received as a leaving present, with the words “Wish you weren’t here”. She also sent an actor posing as an Ofsted inspector to the school.
He told people to remember her stories, eccentricities and joie de vivre.
Mrs Costello said: “We simply want to say how proud we are of our mum, her zest for life, the twinkle in her eye and her generosity of spirit. Her age was always something of a mystery. To all who asked, she had been 96 for years but I will let you all into a secret...she had just turned 77 and we loved her very much.”
A poem entitled Fairy Tale, which Mrs Yates chose for her husband’s funeral was read out in reference to their beloved home and the congregation left in high spirits to the sound of Tiptoe Through The Tulips.
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