Sylvia was born in Deptford, London. She had a happy childhood with her brother Cliff and sister Rene. Living in London near the docks, the family were affected by the second world war, and Sylvia was evacuated with her school to Senghenydd in South Wales, where she lived with the station master and his family. She returned to London in 1943 but the following year, when the V2s started to fall, Sylvia’s mother took the children to stay with family in the relative safety of Birkenhead. After the war, Sylvia left school and joined Lloyds Bank at their head office in Threadneedle Street.
When she met Eric Churchus, on leave during his national service, she found her life partner and they married in 1953 when Eric finished university and started his teaching career. Eric and Sylvia started their family immediately, eventually having five children, Peter, Christopher, Elizabeth, Mark and Paul.
In 1967, Eric was appointed Head of the Maths at Hereford Teacher Training College and the family moved to Sutton St. Nicholas. Always a deeply religious couple, Eric combined lecturing with lay preaching and Sylvia joined the Mothers’ Union and the Women’s Institute even representing the WI at National conferences.
Eventually, Eric took early retirement from teaching to follow his calling, and by 1985 he was the vicar at Woolhope. Sylvia supported Eric in his work and proved herself to be the ideal vicar’s wife. She also spent more time with both the WI and Mothers’ Union, eventually becoming the Mothers’ Union Dioecian Secretary based in Hereford Cathedral.
Throughout the second half of her life, Sylvia was huge help to her family, babysitting or dropping everything to cover childcare emergencies. In her sixties she learned to drive simply because she wanted to be useful.
Eric retired from the ministry in 1993 and Eric and Sylvia moved to Hereford, Eric still conducting services well into his seventies but also enjoying many holidays and lots of time with family.
After Eric died in 2005, Sylvia moved to Ross-on-Wye to live close to her son and his family. Sylvia, typically, threw herself into the Church community and other local groups. There can’t have been one church coffee morning that she missed, and she took her turn greeting visitors here in St. Marys.
Sylvia loved living in Ross, enjoying visits from her many children and grandchildren and spending time on her many enthusiasms especially bird watching and collecting information on post boxes, London buses, telephone boxes, way markers and coins. She was always busy, but still always had time for her family.
Sylvia spent her last 14 months in Ross Court Care Home where she felt safe and cared for, even during the pandemic. She died quietly and peacefully at Ross Court, supported by her faith and unafraid.
In 1946, Sylvia’s head teacher wrote a recommendation.
“Sylvia is a quiet girl, with a very pleasant manner, well liked, trusted, and popular both with the staff and in her own form. She takes a full share in out of school activities and performs many small functions in the life of her form unobtrusively and efficiently. She is an entirely straightforward girl whom we are glad to recommend”
He was right. Sylvia was a woman who fully took part in her chosen life as a wife, a mother, a grandmother. She was a dedicated member and supporter of many organisations – the Church, the Mother’s Union, the WI, Knitter Natter. She was active in any local community she found herself in, helping others whenever she could. She did this unobtrusively and efficiently. But those of us who knew her – her family, her neighbours, her friends and her colleagues – we know how much she helped and contributed, and she leaves a huge gap in our lives.