LEANDER Club capain Debbie Flood helped plant a tree in a Caversham park in memory of a friend who lived in the house opposite
LEANDER Club capain Debbie Flood helped plant a tree in a Caversham park in memory of a friend who lived in the house opposite.
Cécile Rumbold, 89, had lived in the house in Westfield Road since she was four years old until she died suddenly at home in January. About 20 of her friends and family took part in the dedication ceremony on Thursday, February 28 including her husband Jim and daughter Lynne.
Flood befriended the family after Mrs Rumbold won tickets in the Henley Standard for herself and her daughter to watch the rowing world cup at Eton Dorney in 2005. Mrs Rumbold met Flood at the event and asked for her autograph.
Miss Rumbold, who now cares for her father, said: “Debbie took some time out but then she joined the British quad and went off to New Zealand and came back as world champion. My mum said we should get in touch and I wasn’t expecting her to remember us but I sent her a little card saying well done. A few weeks later I received this letter back saying she did remember us and inviting us for lunch at the Leander Club.
“I said we couldn’t possibly do that because we were almost perfect strangers but why don’t we come for afternoon tea? We did so and anybody who was anybody she told to come over and meet her ‘special guests’. It was lovely because she gave up her only free afternoon for us.”
The Rumbolds continued to stay in touch with Flood, an Olympic double silver medallist, and she wrote a special tribute to Mrs Rumbold which was printed in the order of service.
Mrs Rumbold enjoyed living near the Westfield Road recreation ground and helped plant daffodils there. She worked as a tailoress and met her husband when she joined Elliotts factory in 1946. The pair were engaged the following year just before Mr Rumbold was called up for national service, and they married at St Peter’s Church in Caversham when he returned in 1950. She was a lifelong fan of Chelsea Football Club and was a season ticket holder into her mid-eighties, regularly attending games with her husband and daughter.
The planting of the cherry tree was carried out by Reading Borough Council’s parks department. A blue and white plaque beside the tree reads: “A special lady of kindness and enthusiasm who loved this park for 85 years”.
Mr Rumbold, 84, said he will take comfort from the tree, which he can see from his living room window.
He said: “I will look at it every day. Cécile was different from any other person. She was always smiling.
“She was a wonderful woman.”
Miss Rumbold said: “We would like to thank all family, friends and neighbours who made donations towards the memorial tree.”e_SClB