THE family of a much-loved and well-known Lache community stalwart have paid tribute to ‘Mrs Shirley’.
Shirley May Hanlon, who died on January 6 at the age of 70, was involved with the Little Lache Playgroup on Hawthorn Road for 40 years, 22 of them as the group’s supervisor.
Her eldest daughter, Shirley Ann Speak, said: “The reason she ended up being called Mrs Shirley by everyone is that it was easier for the children to say.
“She also loved to be at home with her family.
“She was proud of the Lache Estate and after all the lovely messages people have written in cards, we realise how special she was to a lot of people.”
Born Shirley May Meredith in Poplar Road, Lache, the second in a family of six children, Shirley attended Lache Primary School and later Love Street Secondary Modern School.
After leaving school, Shirley worked for Dandies at Chester Market then cake store Clemences, where she met her husband-to-be Henry, who was working as a delivery driver.
They married in August 1962 and settled in Saltney before moving to Cliveden Road, Lache. They had four children – Stephen, Shirley Ann, Samantha and Joanne.
Having become involved with local activities such as the Lache Youth Club, summer playscheme, Lache Community Centre and carnivals, Shirley helped set up the Little Lache Playgroup with a group of local mums.
After initially being run at the mums’ own homes, the city council offered the use of a run-down building on Hawthorn Road.
The mums renovated the building and the playgroup grew into the familiar community centrepiece it is today.
Shirley was also midday supervisor at Lache Primary School, becoming a well-known figure with local families.
Her community efforts did not go unnoticed as Shirley was nominated for many awards, winning the Woman of the Year and Service Above Self honours.
Last year was one of milestones for Shirley, as she celebrated her 70th birthday with a family event in Anglesey before a reunion with other family members in Jersey.
Shirley also said farewell to the playgroup after 40 happy years and also toasted a golden wedding anniversary with Henry.
Scores of well-wishers paid their respects to Shirley at her funeral, held at St Mark’s Church, Saltney last Thursday, where £450 was donated to Barnardo’s in her memory.