Saturday, 13 August 2022

Bernard Smith, ‘unsung hero’ who ran village corner shop

SHIPLAKE Parish Church was filled to overflowing on Wednesday last week for the funeral of Bernard

SHIPLAKE Parish Church was filled to overflowing on Wednesday last week for the funeral of Bernard Smith, who died at home on April 21.

Bernard was very well known in Lower Shiplake, having run the Corner Shop for nearly 25 years, with his wife Miriam until her death in 2003.

He was much loved and respected in the community through his time in the shop and also through his involvement with the church choir.

After graduating from Magdalene College, Cambridge University, Bernard met Miriam in 1958 on their commuter train from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex to London.

He took advantage of Miriam’s boyfriend being on holiday to ask her to a local rugby club dance. A 45-year partnership ensued.

The couple lived in many places, including the West Midlands and Cheshire, as Bernard followed his career in marketing. They had three daughters and lived a wonderful rural life with horses, dogs, cats and chickens while the girls were young.

As the girls grew up, the family moved to Maidenhead and once the girls were independent, Bernard and Miriam moved to the shop in Lower Shiplake. This local enterprise evolved to encompass the post office and delivering newspapers. Indeed, you could say that Bernard became the oldest paperboy in town!

He was also the driving force behind the traditional Christmas Eve carol singing which is now held at the Baskerville Arms in the village. He was so thrilled to receive the Daily Mail’s Unsung Hero award and was so very proud to go to Highgrove with Miriam and accept the award from Prince Charles in  person.

After the loss of Miriam, Bernard ran the shop with the help of his daughters for another couple of years before retiring in 2005.

In January 2009, Bernard married Judy, a wonderful family friend from the old days in Cheshire, and enjoyed his retirement with many holidays and activities.

He also kept in touch with all his old friends from Lower Shiplake with a daily lunchtime visit to the Baskerville Arms for a beer or two and to do the Telegraph crossword.

He will be much missed by many people. He was an incorrigible rogue who was ultimately a gentleman in the true sense of the word. If anyone wishes to make a donation to the Sue Ryder hospice, Nettlebed, it can be done via the funeral directors Tomalin & Son, 38 Reading Road, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon, RG9 11AG.

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