Audrey Alice Allen (1928 - 2021)
Audrey Holdaway was born in Odiham near Basingstoke in 1928. She grew up and went to school in Basingstoke. The house in Deep Lane where she lived with her family still stands today. When she left school, she started training as an accountant and joined a firm in Basingstoke. She met her husband-to-be, Tony Allen, at a dance in the Town Hall in Basingstoke. Tony was the only son of Peter and Coby Allen who farmed at West Farm, Popham. Tony was a keen Motorcyclist and stalwart of the Basingstoke Motorcycle Club. For many who knew Audrey well, it might seem remarkable that in their courtship she rode pillion on his motorbike. They married in Basingstoke in 1950 and in the early years of their marriage they lived in a caravan whilst they waited for their first house, Westway, to be built at the farm.
Tony and Audrey ran the farm together with his parents and later were joined on the farm by their sons Christopher and Nicholas. At that time, West Farm was a traditional mixed farm and Audrey had plenty to do; rearing calves, collecting and washing eggs and putting her accountancy training to good use in keeping the farm books.
In the late 1960s St James' Church was threatened with closure and could only be kept open on condition that sufficient funds could be raised to support it. Audrey and Joan Smith of Vicarage Farm, Popham threw themselves into the challenge of keeping their Church open. They rallied local support and organised numerous fund-raising events. Audrey became treasurer in 1970 and, together with Joan, steered the fund-raising committee into ever more ambitious events. When Bill Welling arrived at Woodmancote, this led to legendary barn dances and barbeques and hundreds of people came great distances to enjoy both the dancing and the food.
In 1989 Audrey also took on the role of Secretary to the Basingstoke and District Agriculture Society. In her time, she organised the Society Dinners, the annual Ploughing Match and numerous committees. No matter how awful the weather was, Audrey was always seen marching around in her trademark black patent shoes rather than wellington boots.
When her beloved husband Tony died in 2006, Audrey devoted even more of her time and energy to being Church Warden at St James and determinedly continued the traditions that he had started. Of local renown was the Rogation Sunday walk for which Audrey, always a keen and skilled baker, produced quantities of cakes, scones and meringues enough even to satisfy the hungriest of walkers. The Harvest Supper also continued, supported by Brian Wallis, another friend and neighbour in the parish. The harvest report, given by a local farmer at Harvest Festival has become another tradition at St James Church.
Audrey suffered from problems with arthritis, but would proudly boast, to her doctors, that she had five new hips. Sadly, in her later years she contracted cancer and endured a difficult range of treatments. She always took pride in her home and it was always her wish that she should end her days in her own house. On the 28th January she passed away quietly at Bradley Farm with members of her family close by.
Never a great traveller or taker of holidays, she only ventured abroad two or three times in her life and hated every minute. The Parish of Popham and Woodmancote was her entire world and she loved and cherished it, and served it tirelessly.
Audrey Alice Allen 1928-2021
Bradley Farm, Woodmancote
From Dever Magazine March 2021
with kind permission of the family