Frances Dean RIP

Frances Dean, caterer to hundreds of pilgrims over 30 years, passed away on 5 May 2010 after some 18 months' battle with pancreatic cancer.

The early years of the A&B walking pilgrimages were not noted for the quality of their cuisine. In 1979 (I think that’s right) a team from Hove – Frances Dean, Rosemary Wheeler and Joan Kelly – took things in hand, from which Frances emerged as our caterer extraordinaire, and the pilgrims never looked back. As Bill Haynes, who started it all back in 1975, said to me “I think you can say that no one has done so much for so long consistently for the pilgrimages”. Most of us probably took her for granted, at least until 2009 when we realised it wasn’t all as easy as Frances made it look! For 2 weeks every year for 30 years, Frances gave up her free time to serve us.

But it’s not just her catering that will be missed: above all Frances was a wonderful person, a true friend to so many of us, and it’s for those qualities that she will be missed.

My inbox saw a steady stream of messages in Frances' final days, offering prayers for Frances and her family; other I know have e-mailed her sons Jimmy, Michael, Paul, Bennett and Jonathan directly. I have no doubt that those prayers will be redoubled. Frances’ sons did a great job watching by her bedside over the final days – out thoughts are with you.

A sad day but we believe Frances has gone to a better place, which she surely deserves.

Frances' Requiem Mass was held at St Peter's Church, Portland Road, Hove, East Sussex on Friday, 14 May 2010, after which she was buried in Hove Cemetery, Old Shoreham Road . On the way back from the cemetery, in true pilgrim style, we paused to toast Frances at the Ancient Mariner pub, before returning to St Peter's Church Hall for a lunch which was well up to Frances' standards.

Here are various photos of Frances taken on pilgrimages over the years. Below them are some taken after the funeral.

Pictures from the funeral