Alison Walters

Alison Walters

27.07.1949 - 07.11.2023

Alison was born in Scunthorpe on July 27 , 1949 , to Norah , a nurse and Tom , a foreman at the Steelworks , whom Alison remembers as ‘a quiet man with a wonderful sense of humour, ‘ I adored him& maybe had a similar personality to him’

Alison remembers being a shy child in a threesome friendship with two local girls Di ( who is here today);and Katherine Swanson, and records ‘“Although shy ,I did have a temper and bit a neighbour’s child when I was 5 & drove my mother to despair when I would not do as I was told. “ Alison’s older sister remembers that, as a small child, when she had been naughty Alison would take a stand , look mum straight in the eye and never cry , whilst Viv, 6 years her senior , was thinking “don’t be defiant , show a little remorse “ but recognised Alison’s strength and determination , even at an early age .
Mark has 50 years of experience to have witnessed that quality many times – including Alison’s final determination and strength to end her suffering on her terms .
Alison herself wrote “in later life this
(childhood resilience )stood me in good stead in making me determined to never give up and to fight for what I wanted to achieve in life.”
This included trying her best to emulate her older sister, as staff often compared Alison to Viv, who was well liked by staff, intelligent , and made friends easily. Alison was determined , having failed her 11+ , to get the five O levels needed to get into Grammar school at age 15 , and by dint of sheer effort , succeeded.

After 2 happy years at John Leggat Grammar, Alison started a 2 year Home Economics course at Ewell Tech in Surrey – her first time away from home, and being one of a handful of students , not local to the college , was teased for her ‘ Northern ‘ accent . Of this, Alison said she had learnt how “to give as good as she got” from experience of her father’s teasing .
Alison was delighted with her first job offer with the Gas Board , as a Home Economist & a new Ford Escort , despite not yet having a driving licence, nor having taken driving lessons , but she managed to pass her driving test first time .
After a year Alison decided to strive for more qualifications in order to further her career and was accepted on a 2 year shortened Home Economics Teaching course at Battersea College, part of the University of London . This meant a new experience in a Halls of Residence in Queens Gate Gardens , Knightsbridge . Alison says that it was an all women’s college’ and the residence was known as the ‘nunnery’ staffed by wardens who looked and behaved like nuns , enforcing the rules of no males in bedrooms, and only 3 ‘ late’ passes ( late being 10pm) per term.

Alison had to choose what age range to teach and decided on adults , and luckily for Mark, chose South Devon Tech in Torquay , which is where they met in September 1972.
In fact their first meeting was a combination of lucky choices . Alison agreed to do a fellow lecturer a favour by making up the numbers on an evening Spanish class ; Mark had decided to go and learn a new language to add to his French & German . Most seats were taken so Alison ended up next to Mark ,who introduced himself as a P& O officer studying for an HND in Hotel and Catering . When Mark discovered Alison was a lecturer , his prayers were answered , as his psychology lecturer had tasked the class with doing something different by the next lesson and had given as an example ‘ a student taking a lecturer out for a drink ‘ .Alison records “Mark was interesting, very amusing and mature- a good combination for me to agree to go for a drink with after the class”.

This only gradually developed into a more meaningful relationship as Alison had just ended one serious relationship and was not keen to have another ‘ serious romance’ and so had ongoing friendships with several other males .
However ,by the time Mark went back to sea after Easter in 1973 , their friendship had blossomed over that 6 month to the extent that Alison would drive from Torquay to Southampton every fortnight during that summer eager to snatch a few hours with Mark whilst the ship turned around for the next cruise. However Alison was instructed to ensure the dilapidated gold painted mini with big “Bugs Bunny “Rabbits on the doors , was not to be parked in sight of the ship for fear of damaging his new found senior officer status as Deputy Purser .
This was the days of airmail letters , which literally flew back and forth between cruises, full of expressions of love for one another . Mark and Alison kept these letters, which have recently provided Mark with a rich source of memories of their courtship and the passion and love they held and developed for each other.

Returning to college in September 73, Alison agreed to move in with Mark and his flatmate Alistair, albeit insisting on a separate bedroom for her , and a twin room for the boys . These were the days of “decorum” – and inquisitive parents – but also where their romance continued to blossom , partly fuelled by Alison’s incredible repertoire of ‘cordon bleu cookery- although on occasions , if Alison wasn’t satisfied with the result she would bin it , and refuse requests by the hungry boys , to retrieve it – much to their dismay.

Mark proposed to, Alison by airmail , whilst serving as Deputy Purser Catering on the 1973 Christmas Caribbean cruise on Canberra . Mark made one condition- that the service would be at Cockington Church on April 6th 1974 , In the picturesque grounds of Cockington Manor near Torquay , rather than Alison’s home town . Ali agreed to this , despite the obvious disappointment of her parents – and the ultimate boycotting by some of her relatives, ‘Up North’ , who chose , on principle, to deprive themselves of the delights of a weekend in Torquay -a far cry from ‘ sunny Scunny’

After a 2 week honeymoon in St Wolfgang , Mark , who had just resigned from P&O , joined forces with recently married colleagues from P&O , John & Sylvia Harris to buy the 14 bedroomed Ardentinny Hotel on the shores of Loch Long . Alison was still working the summer term at College , when the purchase took place and , with a wedding booking for 60 people , the week after , Alison gave endless cooking instructions to Mark over the phone , as only she had any practical catering experience.
Alison left college a week earlier than her contract , as lectures had finished, and became the driving force behind catering for holidaying residents of the hotel and setting up separate a la carte restaurant, for non-residents – mainly yachties and locals from Dunoon.

Alison only occasionally reverted to temperamental chef – on one memorable occasion, when the restaurant was full , Alison handed 2 plates of food to Mark but omitted to tell him they were hot – very hot ! . The diners next door heard the plates crash , Mark uttering a few choice expletives and then Alison rushing out in tears , tearing her apron off , grabbing the car keys and disappearing into the night – leaving Mark with wet tea towels bandaged round both hands,doing a good impression of Basil Fawlty , trying to cook and serve for the rest of the evening.

By the middle of the season Alison and Mark came to the conclusion that the business was too seasonal to sustain the 4 of them . So in December they took the road south to seek their fortunes in London. Probably the best move they made, as Mark joined the Hotel and Catering Training Board as a trainee Training Adviser, whilst Alison landed her dream job as a Home Economist for Rank Hovis McDougall .
At the end of Mark’s 9 month training period he chose the vacancy for Training Adviser in their old haunt of South Devon as his placement. After a short rental they bought Bridge Cottage , with its enormous inglenook fireplace, opposite the church in Uffculme,East Devon. They were unaware of the resident ghost but Alison’s parent’s Collie dog on a visit , was spooked and tried hard to jump from the first floor window . On another occasion the neighbour knocked the door one morning and asked if the ‘ baby ‘ that she heard crying through the night was ok ! Alison was there alone that night blissfully unaware of the ghost of a baby that , according to records had died in Bridge cottage when it was the ‘Poor House ‘ for unmarried mothers.
Regardless of things that go bump in the night, Mark & Ali loved the house and only decided to move because Alison could not get another lecturing role in Devon. Eventually, when she asked why she was not even getting an interview, a principal told her that she had been blackballed in Devon & Somerset Further Education by her previous head of Department at Torquay for leaving a week early – despite Alison’s immediate boss agreeing to let her go.

Mark suggested a move back to London, where he took up a post as a Management Development Advisor in the HCITB and Alison relaunched her career in education , becoming the Head of Home Economics at Kilburn Polytechnic overseeing 6 full- time staff from 1977-1982 ,whilst also studying for, and obtaining, a University of London, post – graduate diploma in Educational Administration.
This opened the door for an even bigger role with the Polytechnic of North London as their youngest Senior lecturer. As most of her colleagues there had degrees , in 1985 Alison embarked on a part – time B.Ed course with the University of Cardiff, school of Home Economics.
However in 1985, weeks after Mark had handed his notice in with United Biscuits to develop his own consultancy business , and wholly reliant on Alison’s secure income ,disaster struck in the form of a horse riding accident which severely damaged Alison’s brain and also left her with excruciating headaches for months to come. It was over 6 months before Alison was to return to work, only to find that her powers of recall and concentration made it difficult to lecture to her own high standard and she decided that she could no longer fulfil the role she had strived so hard for.

Every cloud has a silver lining – in this instance Alison deciding that career wasn’t the’ be all and end all’ .So in 1986 they decided to sell their Regency apartment on Harrow-on -Hill , and their tiny 16th century weekend thatched cottage near Bicester and move to the country , eventually finding a beautiful ironstone house in the village of Byfield , Northamptonshire, which was perfect for starting a family .

In September 1988 Matthew Thomas James Walters was born – regally waving one hand as he emerged apparently.

Alison had resigned from North London Poly and taken on some part- time lecturing in Birmingham, but was eventually persuaded by Mark to set up a Conference Venue Search business for various organisations doing training & conferences, including Mark’s own clients. Alison soon added her own clients and built her business.

Alison writes “ juggling running a business and also preparing training manuals for Mark was a full time occupation. I was also very keen to have the time with you Matt. Nothing can prepare you for motherhood. You learn as you go along & I know on occasions I must have made some wrong decisions. Those early years were a joy . My memories of your childhood – biking and picnics on Burton Dasset hills, playing in Daventry Country park , the memorable birthday party at Cotswold Wildlife Park , walks and biking in Badby Woods , particularly at bluebell time.

The holidays in exotic parts and the ski trips to France, trips to Brisbane to see cousin Alex, trips to Toronto & Montreal to see Michael’ s family and Viv. The long school holidays every year in the camper van exploring France and Spain . “

In my time spent with Matthew and Mark preparing for this day many lovely memories were shared of Alison as a
Mum ; Matt shared with me ‘ I was so lucky . Mum was always there for me , she worked around her work for me . She was fun , possessed a great sense of humour and could always laugh at herself . Never worried what anyone thought of her . She taught me to cook , which I am so glad about , and whatever I did, school plays, sports day’s learning to ski she was always there, encouraging me. She was a risk taker, which I remember when we were on a memorable family holiday in Australia….it was Mum encouraging me enthusiastically to para sail off the back of a boat in shark infested waters !’

Alison was a devoted Mum and as well as championing her son to fully immerse himself in all aspects of life,she was mindful of Matthew’s dyslexia, and moved heaven and earth to find schools and tutors that were understanding of the challenges of dyslexia, and by the age of 16 Matthew was equipped to go to his local state school to study his A- levels and enter Newcastle University .

This was also a period when Alison showed her true compassion for a friend in need when had suffered a divorce , had lost his job and had nowhere to live . Alison invited him live with the family for a couple of years, whilst he rebuilt his life, found a new job and eventually a new partner.

Meanwhile, in 2007 whilst Matt was embarking on his gap year abroad , Mark & Alison were taking stock of their lives after 20 very happy years in Byfield . A large family house was no longer needed; time to downsize .
Earlier in the year Mark decided he wanted a boat on the French waterways, and whilst inspecting Papa Leslie in March , Mark & Ali stayed at a lovely guesthouse in Vermenton a small town on the river Cure , about 2 hours from Paris and not far from Chablis.
Whilst singularly unimpressed with the boat Alison loved the guest house , which she discovered was for sale . So when purchase of the cottage they found in Byfield, fell through 6 months later, Alison and Mark decided to take the plunge and buy the guesthouse .

This was typical of Alison’s courage , to forge ahead with this enormous challenge , despite misgivings of not speaking much French , whilst knowing Mark would frequently be away running courses in an England leaving her to run it single handed- and the stress of answering the phone in French !

With the experience of running the hotel in Scotland 33 years earlier , this was not quite so foolhardy as it may sound . Alison ran 15 Place Voltaire to the highest standard getting rave reviews , much repeat business and rarely going below 9.8 on Trip Adviser .
Her next challenge ,having experienced one Burgundian winter in 2008 , was to escape the long damp cold French winters , which she did with aplomb by arranging home exchanges , predominantly with Kiwis, but also Australians and South Africans . This was before the ease of Google search engines .Alison would entice them to come to the guest house in our summer , and would stitch together a 3 month trip of one week vacations in New Zealand , Australia and South Africa during our winter , costing only the airfare and car hire.

This literally opened up a whole new world of travel and adventure, thanks entirely to Alison setting a seemingly impossible goal and working tirelessly towards achieving it .
Alison and Mark decided, after the Covid years of 20/21 of hardly seeing Matt and Suzy since their wedding in 2019, that this was a good time to move back to UK to be nearer them
( but not too near!) and hope for grandchildren . In December 2021 the guesthouse, with 14 years of wonderful memories , and many new friendships , was sold .Within weeks Alison had found the ‘ home of her dreams ‘ and by March 2022 they were installed in their apartment on the King Edward VII Estate , near Midhurst , embarking on a new exciting chapter in their lives.
Sadly not all of Alison’s dreams were realised, but then a life, well spent is often full of future plans and intentions, whenever it ends .
If one aspect best sums up Alison, apart from being beautiful, graceful, kind, loving , hardworking , dependable , honest etc , it is her courage and tenacity , particularly when the chips were against her .

Alison fought hard to recover from her severe brain injury after her horse – riding accident in 1985 , and proved that to herself by studying part-time and getting a Master’s degree in 1996, – whilst also working full time and bringing up Matthew.
She worked hard at recovering from her first stroke in 2018 in New Zealand , by learning to walk again , and thereafter keeping strong with sessions of Pilates, gym , swimming and walking.
This time round , when admitted to hospital on 13th August , and discovering the loss of feeling in her left arm and leg , coupled with speech impairment, Alison gritted her teeth and vowed she would fight hard to regain her strength and mobility. However the odds just kept piling up against her- a second major stroke in hospital depriving her of most of her remaining ability to speak .Meanwhile, unbeknown to Alison, an MRI scan in September, identified an underlying disease (cerebral amyloid angiopathy) , which had caused the strokes ;it is progressive , incurable and with very poor outcomes.

Even without this cruel insight, Alison, knew her mind and had the courage to decide for herself when the time had come and “enough was enough “.
She then had the courage and determination to follow through with her wish to take control and not live the restrictive life she was experiencing and perceived would continue .

We do not know for sure, but it is highly likely that Alison’s concern was also for how her life would impact on those closest to her – it certainly would be in her nature to selflessly think of others at this time, as well as her wishes. Despite barely being able communicate, she chose one particular night to clearly say , over and over again “ I love you Mark, I love you Matt”. Her message to her “two boys” could not have been clearer.

Alison was literally often the driving force in her marriage to Mark . If a removal van had to be hired , Mark would implore her to take the wheel. She always drove the camper van in France , whilst Mark, who hated driving on the wrong side of the road , opted to read the map . Alison also spent many hours at the helm of their boat , calmly keeping a straight course , unlike Mark , who, hated taking the wheel, and inevitably ended up hitting the bank within minutes.
Mark knows the road ahead will be much tougher, with Alison no longer by his side helping him steer a path through the rest of his life and it’s challenges and the loss of such a special Mum is immeasurable to Matt.

Mark Walters

04.12.2023

Thank you to everyone who braved the cold ( both outside and inside the crematorium!) to celebrate Alison’s life . The flower tributes were truly wonderful and continue to give me pleasure as they adorn my apartment and the Dining Room, where we met afterwards .
Your presence certainly helped Matt and I to rejoice in knowing that so many of our friends and family wanted to be here to remember Alison and bid her farewell. I know that quite a few friends and family were able to follow the proceedings remotely from Australia, Canada , New Zealand and America , as well as here in UK , which I am sure Alison would have been greatly comforted by.
I know each life is finite but our memories of those we know well and loved , will be there forever . Funerals are sadly sometimes the only times we get to meet certain friends and family, with whom we don’t have frequent contact .This occasion has reminded me of how central to my life are the friendships Alison and I developed over our lifetime , and how much pleasure can be derived from keeping those friendships alive .
I certainly intend to take up various offers to meet up again , wherever you are in the world , and you are most welcome to come and stay - in happier and warmer times - in Apartment 16 King Edward VII Estate,
On behalf of myself and Ali , my darling beautiful , courageous, compassionate loving soulmate and rock for the last 50 fabulous years
Mark

Pat Lawton

02.12.2023

Dearest cuz. Though some 3,500 miles or more always separated our families, that distance was soon erased whenever our paths crossed. We loved life and taking on new adventures and always found the time to giggle and laugh heartily at all our antics from our teenage years on up. Our families were deeply bonded from the start because of the love our mothers shared as sisters and that was passed on to us. Here’s to you my dear sweet cousin and all our lovely times and memories together … you always lived life to the very fullest and I was so lucky to have you in my life. All my love, Pat, Steve and all your cousins here in Michigan.

Gail and Murray

01.12.2023

We have such happy memories of our times together in Vermenton and in New Zealand.
Ali, you were always so positive, fun and welcoming and a great cook! We loved sharing our times together. RIP one very special lady

Fabien Domergue

01.12.2023

To Ali our regrets for all the happy moments we shared with Mark and friends begining August 2008 in Vermenton. We met at the "joutes nautiques" in the close village or Accolay.,Then we never split, the last great moment being the harvest of our wineyard before your departure to Midhurst.
Very honored Ali, to have been your close friends, especially my beloved wife Mithou, who left us in 2021, and that you liked to call "your sister".

Paul VIALARD

01.12.2023

Au revoir Alison. All my thoughts are with you and with Mark, Matthew and your family

Annette Riches

29.11.2023

Dear Alison, a chance meeting in New Zealand was the beginning of a lovely, warm and connected friendship in Burgundy and Sydney. My favourite memory is seeing you sitting alone in our garden in Mosman, an opened book on your lap but you were quietly sitting in contemplation then came inside and hugged me. No words were needed. We will miss you. Love Bob and Annette

Geoff and Graciela

27.11.2023

Mark and family - please accept our condolences for your loss.
We hope you can find comfort in all the memories of better times together.
Our own fond memories of Alison include times in your lovely home in Vermenton as well as sailing adventures on our boat when you visited Wellington.
Mark, we look forward to seeing you again in New Zealand sometime.
Kind regards,
Geoff & Graciela

Jonathan and Kathy Smith

24.11.2023

Alison and Mark have been a presence in our lives now for many years. We first connected via the Home-Exchange network. So long ago we cannot remember whether we went first to stay at their place in Vermenton or did they stay with us in Wellington or Raumati in New Zealand ? Whatever , wherever . From the outset it is no exaggeration to say that there was a bond between us . Get-togethers have hardly been frequent but early-on a strong emailing connection was established usually under the heading of " The State of British Politics" . Alison , quite sensibly , stayed away from direct involvement in these exchanges. Nevertheless , her presence could be felt whenever we ran-off-the-rails. In August we were in England and were invited to visit Alison and Mark in their new abode in Midhurst. We enjoyed the get-together and their hospitality enormously . Other random memories: many (pseudo) philosophical conversations about ummhh- can't remember now . We have whined together .... and wined and dined , attended (always!) comedic theatre performances and steered a boat around Wellington Harbour . It might be said that our get-togethers have always represented important milestones in our transitioning to retirement . We know that Mark has a half-sewn plan to consider visiting New Zealand . Hope he does .

Steve Mckay

24.11.2023

RIP Alison ., I’m so glad that I got to spend a bit of time with you in July .

Cathy

23.11.2023

This is my memory of Ali's 70th Birthday in Vermenton.
A beautiful sunny afternoon in the courtyard, with a simple but perfect cake


This funeral was arranged by Reynolds

Thank you to everyone who attended, sent floral tributes and made donations.

Our memorial pages are simple to setup and will be free forever

Reynolds, ensuring respect
and dignity for your loved
ones since 1867

Our family has been in the business for 150 years
and are as committed now as we were then to
delivering the best possible funeral services we can.
© 2024 Reynolds Funeral Services | 27-31 High Street Bognor Regis West Sussex PO21 1RR Company Reg No. 461520 | VAT Reg No. 192712360 Our other companies: Fine Furniture | Storage
Lovingly designed and developed by Subzero & Mike Hewett

Scroll back to the top of the website