Tributes after death of Wigan teacher and 'best mum ever'

Tributes have been paid to a much-loved grandmother and dedicated teacher who has died at the age of 89.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 7:00 am
Eunice Berry

Eunice Berry was also well-known for writing columns for the Observer and poems for a church magazine.

She died on Monday, February 22 from natural causes, just before her favourite TV show Pointless.

Mrs Berry, who lived in Billinge, is survived by her husband of 67 years Derek, their sons David, Michael and Tony, and five grandchildren.

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Derek and Eunice on their wedding day

Youngest son Michael, 53, said: “She was probably the best mum ever. She was more bothered about other people than herself. The classic example is that every Christmas there were envelopes for the milkman, postman, everyone got a tip, she was that kind of person.

“Anything she could do, she would.

“If she couldn’t do it, she would ask me or my brother to do it.”

Mrs Berry was born and bred in Wigan and had strong ties to the borough.

She was particularly proud of her grandfather Alderman John Cheetham, who fought for the rights of workers, especially miners, and was secretary of Pemberton Miners’ Association for more than 50 years.

He was Mayor of Wigan in 1918-19 and unveiled a memorial at Mesnes Park for those who died in the First World War.

She also admired her father John Hitchen, who worked with explosives in Sweden before helping to retrieve and diffuse bombs dropped in air raids in Liverpool during the Second World War. He later opened a colliery in Billinge.

Mrs Berry had memories of growing up during the war on Pemberton Road, Winstanley, where her family had the only telephone on the street. They would often receive important calls, including from the War Office, with news of their neighbours’ loved ones who were serving their country.

She attended St Matthew’s Primary School in Highfield and trained as a teacher at Bangor University in Wales.

Mrs Berry went on to work as a supply teacher and regularly covered at schools in the Billinge and Parbold areas.

Michael said: “She loved teaching. She was well-known around the Billinge area. I think she just loved people and loved kids. She loved helping people.”

Mrs Berry married husband Derek on December 20, 1962 and received a card from the Queen to mark their 65th wedding anniversary in 2017.

It was certainly a day to remember, with the newlyweds spending their first hours as husband and wife in a football ground - with Mrs Berry still wearing her wedding gown!

Michael said: “They got married in the morning because my dad had got tickets to watch Stanley Matthews play for Blackpool in the afternoon.”

Mrs Berry loved writing and submitted Around The District reports from Billinge and Orrell for the Observer in the 1980s and 1990s.

She also wrote poems every month for the parish magazine at St Aidan’s Church in Billinge and one of her sons put together a book of her poems. She enjoyed spending time with her family and friends, drawing and used to hold Tupperware parties to raise money for the RNLI.

Michael said: “The one thing she loved doing on a Saturday afternoon was having a bet. She loved horse racing.

“In the last few years, as her eyes were going, Tony would write the horses’ names in massive writing so she could see it.”

He praised his brother Tony for caring for their mother, as well as Dr Phillips from Orrell Surgery and the district nursing team.

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