Tributes to prominent member of Wolverhampton's famous Mander family

A prominent member of Wolverhampton's famous Mander family has died in a care home in France, aged 98.

Hilary Mander was a longstanding volunteer with the Red Cross
Hilary Mander was a longstanding volunteer with the Red Cross

Hilary Mander, later known as Hilary Purslow and later Hilary Jarrey, died at the home in Mirande, south-western France, where she had lived for the past four years following a major stroke.

She was the last surviving family member of the generation born at Dippons in Tettenhall Wood, the daughter of Gerald and Nancy Mander.

The Mander family tomb at St Peter's Collegiate Church, in Wolverhampton

Miss Mander was born on April 14, 1924, the younger sister of Philip Mander, who went on to become the last family chairman of the Mander Paints company.

She lived for Shropshire in many years, first in Shifnal, later at Harnage, near Cressage, and then at Minsterley before emigrating in

She volunteered with the Red Cross during the Second War, an association she maintained for many years afterwards.

Her niece, the Rev Pippa Thorneycroft, who is vicar of Tong, near Albrighton, said her aunt had dedicated much of her life to helping others, particularly in Shropshire.

"Along with many other privileged women of her generation, Hilary had been brought up to shoulder responsibility in public life had served on many committees in the county, most particularly the Red Cross.

"She had a great sense of humour and was superlatively hospitable.

"Her last four years in the home in France have been sad but tempered by very good care and the daily visits of her son, Ian, and his wife and daughters, though Covid meant they could not be in the room with her and hold her hand for almost two years.

"Fortunately the restrictions were lifted and the daily visits in person resumed before she died. She still reacted to a joke right to the end."

Mrs Thorneycroft said despite her aunt "being born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth," her life was marred by the premature deaths of two children who were both killed in car crashes.

Miss Mander signed up with the Red Cross's Voluntary Aid Detachment in 1940 as part of her contribution to the war effort, working in civilian and maternity hospitals, as well as on mobile detachment with Western Command.

In 1943, she transferred to Royal Navy & Fleet Air Arm, and was stationed at Royal Naval Hospital Plymouth and later at RN Air Station Cheshire until 1946, when she became a state-enrolled nurse.

She was awarded the War Organisation of British Red Cross Society & Order of St John of Jerusalem Certificate in recognition of her "devoted service to the cause of humanity during the second World War".

She became the first commandant of the Shifnal Salop 18 Detachment Red Cross, and was President of the Shifnal Division in 1963.

Miss Mander married William "Bill" Purslow in 1946, and the couple had three children, Valerie, Ian and Hugh.

Valerie was just 17 when she was killed while learning to drive in April, 1966, in a crash which also cost the life of her fiance.

Her brother Hugh died 11 years later in 1977.

"Such seismic happenings left a further sadness because the long-standing marriage to Bill Purslow couldn’t sustain such shattering blows and they divorced," said Mrs Thorneycroft.

Mrs Thorneycroft said Mr Purslow had also been a valued member of the main board at Mander Brothers, and the divorce meant their home at Minsterley had to be sold.

"Hilary left the county at that time a broken woman and went away from the memories of Shropshire including the lovely family house where the children had grown up at Harnage, near Cressage," she said.

In 1985 she married Anthony Jarrey and lived between the Cotswolds and Spain, before they moved to Gascony in 2000 to be nearer to her son Ian and his family.

Anthony died in 2013.

Miss Mander was also a member of the Women's Voluntary Service, helping with the Meals on Wheels service, as well as being part of the Young Wives' Club and National Hospital Reserve, and was co-opted onto Shropshire County Council's health committee.

Mrs Thorneycroft added that her aunt enjoyed hunting with beagles, running with the Shropshire Beagles and The Dummer Beagles in Gloucestershire.

Miss Mander died on April 29, and her funeral in Castelfranc, south-western France, was well attended by locals and expatriate friends.

Mrs Thorneycroft said the family planned to add a memorial stone to the Mander family tomb at St Peter’s Collegiate Church in Wolverhampton, alongside her brother Philip who died 50 years ago, sister Daphne and their grandparents Charles Tertius and Mary le Mesurier Mander.

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