Maureen Edwards obituary

My friend Maureen Edwards, who has died aged 77, was a popular member of the congregation of Saint Anne’s church, Wandsworth, in south-west London. Her association with St Anne’s went back 53 years, and in January this year she was awarded the Lancelot Andrewes medal by the bishop of Southwark for “godly service and zeal for the gospel”.

Maureen was born in Sunderland. Her father, Anthony Bell, worked as a shipyard blacksmith and her mother, Jane (nee Bacon), did kitchen work in care homes. Maureen had an older sister and brother; they all lived in a tiny cottage where Maureen joked that she “slept in a drawer”.

She went to Chester Road secondary modern school in Sunderland, leaving at 16, after which she enrolled on a four-year nurses’ training course, split between the Sunderland Orthopaedic and Accident hospital and the Royal Infirmary, and qualified in 1966.

The following year she married Steve Edwards, whom she had met through her local church in Sunderland while she was still at school. They moved to London, where Steve took up an office job in the civil service and Maureen became a nurse at Brook hospital in Shooter’s Hill before leaving work to start a family.

It was in 1969 that she and Steve moved to Wandsworth and joined St Anne’s church. As the children began to grow up, Maureen took on work as a nurse at an adult education department based in All Farthing school in Wandsworth.

In 1982 Steve was ordained, and the family moved away from Wandsworth, living in a number of parishes in which he served, including Sutton in Surrey, Harlesden in north-west London and Maidstone in Kent.

In 2001, when Steve became chaplain of Wandsworth prison, they were able to move permanently back to Wandsworth and Maureen was reunited with her friends at St Anne’s.

She was soon making herself indispensable as church warden, cleaning, arranging flowers for services, organising rotas and visiting elderly parishioners. Around this time she also nursed an elderly uncle at her home for two years and, after bringing her mother to London, nursed her, too, until she died.

Steve was a regular preacher at St Anne’s, and their daughter Katherine was in the choir; on Sundays, Maureen, her other daughters, Louise and Clare, and her grandchildren made the back pew their own.

Latterly Maureen ran what is known as Messy Church, an hour and a half on Wednesday mornings, engaging with mothers and nannies while the toddlers played. The session would end with a bible story and songs around the piano.

Apart from her church work, Maureen’s other passion was sewing; she was a skilled seamstress, designing and stitching quilts for the family, and making the wedding dresses for her three daughters.

She is survived by Stephen, their daughters, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.