Royal seamstress dies at 104


Vera Price, a former magistrate who embroidered the Queen Mother’s coronation robes and set up a branch of the British Legion, has died at the remarkable age of 104.

Vera started life with a first-rate education in Manchester after winning a scholarship. She showed particular skill in art, design and needlecraft and later found a job with Norman Hartnell, the royal dressmaker. There, she embroidered several state gowns, including the coronation robes of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

Her husband George joined up at the outbreak World War II and was involved in the evacuation of St Nazaire, being present at the infamous sinking of the Lancastria.

He was reported missing but managed to make his own way back to Britain, arriving home unannounced.

After the war, George settled with his wife and son Michael in Newent, Gloucestershire, where Vera opened the Daffodil Café. Michael, then aged 11, was joined by a much-awaited sister, Maureen Elizabeth (Liz), in 1946.

Vera, who as well as being an excellent chef in the café and for her family, found time to set up a branch of the British Legion to help returned servicemen. She also became a magistrate.

George, who had been in poor health since the war, died in 1960, leaving Vera and Liz, then 14, to cope on their own. Michael, a qualified art teacher, was by this time working in Africa, where he met and married Colette.

In 1970, Vera set sail for New Zealand to visit Michael, Colette and her grandchildren. On her return voyage, she caught the eye of a handsome New Zealander, Harry Francis.

Her suitor would not take no for an answer and the pair were soon married, settling in Buckden, Cambridgeshire.

Vera and Harry enjoyed 12 years of married life but by this time, she was outliving nearly everybody, including Harry and son Michael, who was just about to retire.

So Vera moved to Newhaven to be near her remaining family and lived there independently until she was 102.

She died in the Threeways Nursing Home, Beacon Road, Seaford, where she became increasingly frail, though sharp as a pin mentally.

She announced recently that she was “ready to go”, having done more than most people could wish for.

Threeways Nursing Home cares for adults who require care over the age of 65.

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