Voices of Hickling

Remembering Ursula - 2

She visited the Greyhound pub in the evenings and found companionship and pleasure, enjoying the local voices and sad as 

one by one they began to fade away.   She wanted to “hold on to the past” and hearing that interview on the radio gave her an idea of one way this could be done.

In her own past,  Ursula trained as a nurse in London at the Westminster and then as a midwife in Edinburgh, returning to London,  St Thomas’s Hospital and to a love affair that led to her engagement to a young doctor.  He was, keen to secure her (and who would not be?)  before he spent a year away in South Africa,  only to leave her for someone he met out there.

If she was not to marry a doctor,  Ursula determined to become one and, supported by her father,  embarked on that course.  Tragedy struck:   her father died suddenly the night before her exams and Ursula was unable to complete her studies and had to return to nursing to make a living.

Nursing was not the only string to her bow however.  Building on an entrée to the film industry from her student nurse days, Ursula embarked on an alternative career as film-star stand-in and stuntwoman.  It is no surprise that she was asked to stand in for Sophia Loren in The Millionairess when you see them side-by-side!

Ursula spoke of Sophia Loren with admiration and affection and recounted how Sophia taught her to make perfect Italian pasta in her stage caravan. 

At the other end of the glamour-action pole Ursula was a stunt driver in From Russia with Love when she apparently nearly got blown up for real!

When I first met Ursula she was as sharp and inquisitive as ever with a great appreciation of people.  When we set up the University of the Third Age in Hickling, we were keen to have a voice for the older members and Ursula was the natural choice;  she joined the founding committee and agreed to set up the project group to record  “Voices of Hickling” as long as someone else would “do the legwork”.

Despite her legs, Ursula was still out and about until close to her final illness;  travelling with her friend Hilary last summer to the Appleby Horse Fair - a fitting last adventure for someone who loved the countryside and wildlife so much.

We miss her.

Page updated  12/5/18