Death of stalwart Monica, aged 84

Monica Russell
Monica Russell

Monica Russell, a well-loved Lewes resident, has died at the age of 84. She had suffered from Alzheimers for some years.

She lived in the county town for more than 40 years and contributed much to its well-being in various ways.

From 1976 to 1991, as WRVS District Organiser for Lewes, she was responsible for the Meals on Wheels service in the area and became a well-known figure, cycling up and down the High Street.

In 1995 and for the next six years, she was President of the Chichester Diocesan Mothers’ Union, travelling round the county meeting members and encouraging younger ones.

Before her marriage, Monica had worked in the BBC’s Drama Department and never lost her love of the theatre.

For many years, she produced the Nativity play at St Michael’s Church in Lewes and in 1981 directed the hugely successful pageant ‘Tongues of Fire’ at Lewes Castle.

This told the 1,300-year-old story of Christianity in the town from the coming of St Wilfred in 681 to the formation of the Lewes and District Council of Churches in 1957.

All the Lewes churches took part with more than 100 adults and children, and many local organisations.

“Perhaps her greatest achievement,” said her daughter Mary Streater, “was when in 2008 she was awarded the MBE for her services to Lewes Prison where she had established, and for many years ran, a crèche for visiting children of prisoners.”

Many of Monica’s friends will no doubt remember with a smile her description of her mother as someone who was “a friend, pilgrim, whisky drinker, traveller and lover of teddy bears”.

Another friend, Caroline Pybus, said she was “one of the kindest people she knew”.

Monica leaves her husband Robin, children Mary, John and David, and grandchildren Peter and Jenny.

The funeral service will be held at 12noon next Friday, February 14, at St Michael’s Church, Lewes.