Sunday, 21 April 2019

Adrienne Pratt — August 1, 1939 to March 31, 2019

Adrienne Pratt — August 1, 1939 to March 31, 2019

ADRIENNE PRATT, née Annesley-Cooke, was born in Farnham on August 1, 1939 to Edward and Marion Annesley-Cooke. She was an only child.

He was an RAF pilot who was killed during the Second World War in an air crash, leaving Marion to bring up their daughter alone.

This introduced a lifelong companion in Gladys Farmer, who became Adrienne’s nanny when she was only two.

Nanny played a pivotal role in her life, helping to raise her through her formative years.

Adrienne went to the Clare Park School for Young Ladies in Crondall, near Farnham, as a weekly boarder and was both sporty and academic.

Her mother remarried in the Fifties to William Morgan, an Irishman who had moved to Farnham. This was the beginning of a link with and love for Ireland that lasted all Adrienne’s life.

Mr Morgan, fondly known as Bosco, and nanny were there to support Adrienne when she lost her mother in a motorcycle accident in 1957.

After school, Adrienne worked in London at the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather. Here she led a fun-filled life, becoming quite the socialite, and met Jan Mathews.

Jan and Adrienne became inseparable and their friendship lasted all their lives.

Adrienne often regaled her family with nostalgic tales of theatre, fashion and wonderful parties while they lived in a top-floor flat in Knightsbridge.

One of her favourite memories of this time was of her work with March Motor Sports and the passion she then developed for Formula 1 lasted all her life.

Adrienne met her future husband, David Pratt, in Farnham after she nearly ran him over in her red Triumph Spitfire.

Love blossomed and they were married in 1965 at St Thomas on the Bourne Church in Farnham.

The couple honeymooned in Sandbanks, Bournemouth, before settling in Highgate, north London.

Their first son, Simon, was born in Wimbledon in 1966. Shortly afterwards, David got a job in High Wycombe and the family moved to Charvil, where their second son, Jason, was born two years later.

Adrienne created a joyous family home, where the two boys thrived, and a lifelong circle of friends was developed in the Charvil area.

During the early Seventies David played for Henley Rugby Club’s first team and Adrienne developed a love for Henley that would never wane.

She soon made friends with the other rugby wives and became a firm fixture in the community.

The family relocated to Bedfordshire in 1975 but this was short-lived as they longed to return to Henley, their friends and the town they felt was home. They bought a house in Vicarage Road in 1976. Adrienne became involved in all aspects of her sons’ lives, especially mini-rugby at Henley Rugby Club and football with Henley Boys.

She was instrumental in organising the initial Leichlingen football exchange trip in 1981 and hosted children from the first set of boys from Germany. She was a strong supporter of the twinning of Henley with Leichlingen.

The family spent many happy summer holidays travelling to locations including Majorca, Tunisia, Ireland, California and Mexico, all generating a love for travel that remained with Adrienne.

Living on the River Thames inspired them to buy a boat and summer weekends were often spent on the water.

In the early Eighties the family moved to St Andrew’s Road and their home became something of an open house, where they often hosted dinner parties.

Growing up, the boys’ friends always knew they would find a warm welcome here. Entertaining friends and catering fabulous meals was something Adrienne always loved and a freshly baked cake would greet visitors any day of the week.

Her friendship extended to many and all who knew her would be welcomed with pleasure when they arrived for tea unannounced.

Adrienne also took in regatta visitors and crew, which resulted in a lifelong friendship with the Neptune Rowing Club from Dublin.

Her Irish friends and their accommodation needs would always be a key concern during the build-up to the regatta.

The visitors loved spending time with Adrienne and regularly took her to the stewards’ enclosure as their guest. The regatta and Henley Festival were important dates in Adrienne’s diary.

In 1985 Adrienne and David separated and she moved to Periam Close. She then worked at King James College, assisting students in all administrative aspects. In 1988 Adrienne joined the European Centre for Public Affairs, based at Templeton College in Oxford and Brussels, where she developed and delivered courses to the new member states going through accession into the EU.

She travelled to Brussels every week and was a well-known figure in the European Commission. She was an ardent EU supporter as a result of her knowledge of the workings and many happy times spent in Brussels.

Adrienne was a committed Christian and true believer and she dedicated herself to St Margaret’s Church in Harspden.

It would be impossible to over-emphasise her contribution and commitment to St Margaret’s. She took on all the roles, from parochial church council secretary, flower team member, pew sheet initiator, church rep on the Harpsden Trust, Harpsden News editor, pastoral visitor and fund-raiser extraordinaire to the ultimate one of churchwarden, where she displayed boundless energy and enthusiasm mixed with good common sense, integrity and patience.

Her spirituality rubbed off on the congregation, culminating in her suggestion that they should embrace the idea of a series of five plays to be performed every second year over the course of the Decade of Evangelism during the Nineties.

The One Solitary Life team was formed, with Adrienne at the helm, directing and producing the plays.

This was one of her greatest triumphs. Lives were turned around and faiths cemented during this period. People still talk about and remember the inspiration she was; her hard work and sense of humour that were pivotal in ensuring the success of the plays with their purpose of evangelising and the impact they had on so many people’s lives.

Adrienne’s preferences always leaned towards the Catholic way of doing things so a few years ago she joined Sacred Heart Church in Vicarage Road, without ever severing her link with St Margaret’s.

She was also a member of the Royal British Legion and provided assistance to the elderly, including at Tower House care home in Shiplake and Chilterns Court care centre in Henley.

She also volunteered for several years at the Christian Community Action shop in Sonning Common.

Once retired, she pursued her love of travel, visiting many far-flung places including India several times, once to visit the tea estate run by her old uncle Geoff.

She took a suitcase full of teaching bibles to children in China, going on a three-day train trip from Peking to Tibet. There were visits to Hong Kong to see Simon, outer Mongolia, a pilgrimage to Israel and Jordan, where she swam in the Dead Sea, and to Australia to visit her cousin Georgie and her family.

All trips were accompanied by one of two loyal travelling companions, Jan Matthews and Caroline Kristofferson, whom she loved dearly for their friendship and humour.

Eleven years ago, Adrienne moved back to St Andrew’s Road, where she hosted a bed and breakfast and welcomed many visitors from all over the world.

Her passion was to ensure that her guests experienced her love for Henley. She prided herself on serving a breakfast that became legendary, especially among her Irish rowing friends, who were still returning for the regatta decades later.

Her visitors book remains a glowing testament to her hospitality and friendliness.

Adrienne was a doting grandmother. This was the role she loved more than anything else and she had a monumental role in the development of the young lives of Eddie, Grace, Johnny and Elsie.

Her nurturing nature was instrumental in building their characters and giving them lifeskills that will always be treasured by her grandchildren. Adrienne has left a very strong legacy in these four young people.

Adrienne’s health deteriorated over the last five years of her life but she was continually supported by her lifelong friends from Henley. Friends and family were always there for her, as she had been for them for so many years.

With them, her fondest pastimes continued right up to the end of her life — playing bridge, taking trips to the Regal cinema and Kenton Theatre, baking cakes with the grandchildren and having conversations on everything under the sun.

This is testimony to the person she was and will remain in her family’s hearts.

Adrienne was warmhearted, compassionate, intelligent, humorous, generous, committed and faithful and always made time for those near and dear to her.

She died peacefully at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading on March 31 with both her sons by her side.

She will be forever missed by her family and friends.

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