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Sylvia Newman

Jewish Care - Book of Memories


5 May 1924 - 18 Apr 2019

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Dear Family and Friends As a way of celebrating, sharing and remembering $personFirstName$ together, I have created a celebration page within the $bookTitle$. Here we can all share our memories – through stories, thoughts, messages, photographs and videos. If you would like to visit the page and add your own message or tribute simply go to: $findPersonLink$. Thank you,
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Remembered by: David Newman

Date added: 9 May 2019

Mum was born on May 5th 1924 in Mile End Hospital. Her parents Israel and Annie Flax were from Russia and Lithuania, respectively, and had met on the boat coming over to England. She had two elder sisters, Jinny and Lily, two elder brothers, Louis and Hymie, and a younger brother Gerald. The family lived above my Grandfather's tin smith shop in Mile End Road.

After leaving school, Mum got a job at the Jewish National Fund working with Teddy Kollek, who later became Mayor of Jerusalem. In 1940 the family moved to Cippenham near Slough to escape the blitz. She began working at D M Davies, a furniture manufacturer making aircraft wing parts, where she was the personal secretary of the Works Manager for 12 years.

Mum was an active member of the Slough Community Centre, organizing social events and playing Table Tennis. For 5 years she was the town's undefeated ladies table tennis champion and she played at County level for Buckinghamshire. In 1951 she was ranked by the Table Tennis Association as one of the top 50 players in the country.

She also enjoyed ballroom dancing and it was at a dance in London that year that she met her future husband, Charles. They married in October 1953 and her table tennis career ended with my birth in March 1955. A year later they moved to Silkfield Road, Colindale, where Mum eventually became the longest and eldest resident.

In the late 1960's Mum went back to work in a number of temporary office jobs, one of which lead to a permanent position in the Rating Department at Hendon Town Hall, where she stayed until she retired.

Whilst there she managed to get my Dad a job in the Treasurers Department and they would walk together to and from work each day. They were a devoted couple who were hardly ever apart and enjoyed going on coach tour holidays around Britain and sometimes abroad whenever they could. They chose hotels where they could dance in the evening.

Mum became an active member of NALGO, the National Association of Local Government Officers and subsequently Unison of which she was a regular attendee at their pensioners meetings. She and Dad also regularly attended meetings of the Russian Convoy Club and pensioners groups in Golders Green and Burnt Oak.

She was a determined fighter for causes she believed in. She campaigned against the threatened closure of Edgware General Hospital and her comment at a public meeting that the alternative at Chase Farm Enfield "might as well be on the moon" captioned the story in the local newspaper.

Mum was a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party and acted as a teller in many local and national elections. After Dad died in 2005 she worked tirelessly in the office of the local MP, Andrew Dismore, in recognition of which she received a Merit Award from Gordon Brown.

Another prized possession was a personal thank you letter from Tony Blair for taking part with him in a publicity stunt at Brent Cross. The Prime Minister was behind a cash till and offered to check out her bananas but she said he had better not as he might get the price wrong!

Her banter with a friend at the very start of the 2006 Queens Speech Party Political Broadcast gave an uplift to the Labour Party Conference as did her comment that the increase in the winter fuel allowance was "much better than a woolly hat".

Mum also took up playing table tennis again, firstly at the Brady Maccabi, where as a Jewish Care volunteer she helped people with learning difficulties play. Then later at the Harrow Leisure Centre where she was so popular that for her 91st Birthday they organised a special presentation with a magnificent cake in the shape of a table tennis table with bats and ball and the Mayor gave her a bouquet.

She continued to play table tennis until about a year ago when her mobility problems became too difficult. Up until then she had enjoyed good health for most of her adult life, having overcome TB and scarlet fever in her childhood.

At home she kept her sharp mind alert by doing crosswords and watching quiz shows and detective mysteries. She enjoyed her outings to the Sobell Centre in Stonegrove and was never shy in speaking to new people to make them feel at ease.

Mum was a very sociable and friendly person who had many lifelong friends most of whom she outlived. However, she had the ability to make new friends wherever she went - not only at table tennis, pensioner groups and Labour Party meetings but also among her carers and fellow patients.

Never lost for words, she had a phenomenal memory and a wealth of entertaining stories to tell. These were often about "a funny thing" that had happened to her. She was always interested in people and within minutes of meeting a person for the first time would have found out where they came from, what they did and whether they played table tennis!

Above all she was an exceptional, kind and devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, generous in spirit and deed. She always put others' interests before her own and would go to great lengths to help out where she could. She was unwavering in her support for me and thinking that I might starve at Cambridge would bring me hot chicken soup and salt beef every 2 or 3 weeks!

She loved helping Paula and I by babysitting her grandchildren Kara, Gemma, Adam and Jonathan. She took a great deal of interest in them as they grew up and in her great granddaughters Sara Bracha, Aliza, Tsofia, Amalia, Isabelle and Adina.

I loved Mum with all my heart. She was an unique and unforgettable character who will be sorely missed by her family and friends.

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