Sunday, 26 September 2021

Eileen Richards

EILEEN RICHARDS, the owner of the Mill at Sonning has died, aged 89.

EILEEN RICHARDS, the owner of the Mill at Sonning has died, aged 89.

She spent her later years running the riverside theatre and raising money for Bomber Command.

Born at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London in 1925, she grew up in Islington and attended Highbury Hill Girls’ School.

She was 14 at the outbreak of the Second World War and two years later she joined Bomber Command as a driver, based at Stradishall, Suffolk. She had lied about her age, saying she was 18.

Mrs Richards would drive the pilots and the bombs to the planes. She stayed with Bomber Command until the end of the war. After the conflict, Mrs Richards chaufeurred ministers in London. She was one of very few women who could drive.

She then met Tim Richards and they were engaged within three weeks and moved to South America.

The spent some time in Venezuela and the Amazon jungle.

Mr Richards was a civil engineer and was working on an irrigation project. The couple lived in a house on stilts.

Mrs Richards gave birth to their first daughter, Jane, in South America but moved back to England to have their son, Robin, and daughter Sally. When Sally finished drama school in the Seventies, she took her parents to a show which gave Mrs Richards the idea to open their own dinner theatre.

For 33 years the family have run the Mill at Sonning, which has featured the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Wendy Craig.

In the couple’s latter years they reconnected with the Bomber Command and staged charity performances to raise funds for the memorial in Piccadilly, which was unveiled in 2012. Mrs Richards went to the opening ceremony.

She leaves 10 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

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