Coddington History Group

Annie Elizabeth (Nancy) Sleight

b. 3rd November 1930 d. 25th November 2015

          Nancy Slack was born at “Drove Cottage”, Drove Lane, Coddington (the house where Bernard Allen lives) on the 3rd November 1930; her parents were Richard and Elizabeth. The house had four bedrooms but no main services; a kitchen range for heating and cooking on which a kettle would stand all day long. The well was in the garage and the toilet down the yard.

           Her father was a smallholder with 13 acres growing grass and sugar beet. There was a very large orchard with Apple, Pear and Plum trees. He was also grounds man at Newark Golf Club, ran a shoot and even had a job at one time as a rat catcher. It was a close and loving family and Nancy had on the whole a happy childhood. Though I’m told at times she had been quite sickly with Pneumonia.

            Nancy was their third child; born when her brother Jim was 14 and her sister Kath was 10, so felt rather like an only child as her siblings being so much older had their own interests when she was growing up. She attended the local school in the present Scout Hall. Children started at 5 years old and went on until they were 14. She walked one mile to school and on the way she called for John Kirton who lived in the village. About a year ago Nancy said to John “When I called to take you to school your mother gave me a piece of chocolate”. John Kirton remembered how when she was younger Nancy hadn’t quite mastered how to say her middle name and when asked her name she would reply Annie Ibbler. There were 3 classrooms and 3 teachers, Mr Fordham (Headmaster) Miss Thacker and Miss Gomer.

            She remembers the war when not very much happened until the two German bomber planes flew over and dropped bombs on the Ransome and Marle’s factory which made munitions on the 7th March 1941. She said that the planes flew so low you could see the pilots’ faces. The children saw the planes from the school and were more excited than afraid.
            Nancy vividly remembers Manor Dairy Farm; they did the bottling of the milk there. Fred Hollingworth lived in the white farm house, his brother Jim Hollingworth on the corner of where Morgans Close is now, and father James Hollingworth in the big house (now the “Inn on the Green”)..
                        She remembers the two evacuees who stayed in the village, Kathleen and Diane Cannon. Kathleen loved it so much here she refused to go back to Norfolk at the end of the war, and eventually married a local man Roy Boroughton.
            She left school at 14 and helped her father on the smallholding for a while before getting a job at Webb Woollies, who made knitted baby clothes. The firm was over the Midland Railway Hotel and she rode there every day on her bike.
            Ralph Sleight lived in Beckingham and was in the Navy. They met on the bus going to Newark when Ralph was on leave from the Navy. Both families knew each other and the mothers were very keen for them to get together and did a bit of matchmaking, persuading them to write to each other. They were married on December 30th in 1950 at CoddingtonChurch, and as Ralph was in the navy they lived at “Drove Cottage” with Nancy’s parents. Ralph and Nancy had 65 years of very happy married life together.

                        Her memories of the village are of the many small cottages and the Baker’s shop owned by John Knott. The shop sold everything, groceries but also shoelaces, buttons, more or less everything. The bakery was behind the shop which you got to down the passage next to the Plough Pub and through the yard.

            They had three children, John, Ann and Peter were born at the farm, and they all now live locally. When her eldest son John started school Nancy took him on her cycle every day. Nancy was a very cheerful happy lady but she had her times of sadness, she was only twenty seven when her father Richard died on the 7th March 1957 aged 66. This resulted in her mother selling the smallholding to Bernard Allen. Nancy and family moved from “Drove Cottage” into No.10, Valley View in 1958, which was a council house estate. The first council houses built in Coddington were the six in Balderton Lane, then those on Brownlow Hill and finally the Valley View Estate, built in 1956. Nancy’s mum moved to 3, Morgans Close and a short time later her sister Kath who married Horace Robinson went to live at 9, Morgans Close. Nancy and Kath were very close and as Kath did not have any children Nancy’s children spent a great deal of time with Kath and Horace. Both families spent the three days of Christmas at Kath and Horace’s house.

            In 1960 when Nancy was only 30 her brother Jim was killed riding his motor bike, he had a fatal accident near “Catch Em Inn” corner in Coddington.

            When son John joined the church choir; this was a family affair every Sunday Nancy, her sisterKath and GrandmaSleight sat in the same seat at the back of the church.

            The post office was run by a mother and daughter, Mrs Sharpe who was a tiny lady and Miss Milly Sharpe a huge fat lady (said Nancy). It was just a post office, nothing else was sold there apart from perhaps a few greeting cards but all the mail was sorted there. When they gave up the post office Bernard Mastin and his wife took it on in the bungalow opposite “The Inn on the Green” in 1970.

            Nancy had a lovely welcoming nature about her. But she could be tenacious as well – she would get on her high horse about things. When the children went to school in Balderton they were told they lived outside the 3 mile radius which meant they weren’t allowed free transport. Nancy didn’t stand for this but took the council on, had the distance checked and won her case. And Nancy had no qualms about raising issues with the parish council.

            There had not been a lot of money spare for holidays, Nancy and the family when her children were young but they had breaks away visiting members of the family in Knottingley in Yorkshire and Belper in Derbyshire and they had looked forward to the Sunday School trips out. Nancy had loved the Sleight family reunions that had taken place over the years in Blackpool.

            In 1966 Nancy started working at the school as a dinner lady and carried on for another 40 years. She soon realised that at the school some children needed help with their reading, so she volunteered to work at the school on a one to one basis to help these children with their reading and carried on for 40 years. It was a job she loved and she continued in a relief capacity through until 2008. She had loved being with the children and the children and staff loved her and she had kept in touch with many as they had grown up and gone on to have their own children.

            In 1969 Bernard Mastin and a few others started a village football team, the pitch being on Balderton Lane (LHS just out of the village, eventually there was also a cricket pitch there).   Nancy’s son John was a very keen footballer so he joined the team and Nancy attended every match, she had a note book and kept detailed records. When John left the team to play else where Nancy continued to support Coddington and record the results. This book came in handy in March1998 when incorrect information was reported in the Newark Advertiser, this was corrected in the Advertiser on 20th March 1998 “The revered Nancy – Coddington club historian – put pen to paper and advised that in 1986 Coddington beat RHP 2 – 0 in the Notts Sunday Morning Intermediate Cup”. Maurice Britten the Hon Secretary said “It was all recorded in our Nancy’s little book, the day she brought back the Cup to Coddington”.

            In 1974 Betty Troop (the village representative for raising money for the “Lifeboat Fund”) assisted by a few of her friends (Jessy Simpson, Joan Curtis, Sylvia Burgess, Valerie Johns, Janet Gascoigne, Rene Cope, Doreen Tomlinson and Nancy) gathered together to collect money, Bingo evenings, sold raffle tickets, the main attraction was the annual “Old Village Concert” in January in the village Hall, the performers were local people:- Linda French, Jimmy Wright, band “3 Degrees”, The Young Farmers put on a show and the “Lifeboat Ladies” put on a play. When Maureen Dobson was Lord Mayor she presented the raffle prizes. These events were always a sell out. They continued until about 1983.

            About 10 years ago Ralf and Nancy moved to a bungalow 1, Morgans Close and Nancy naturally became a great part of the Well Green community. She was a great neighbour to many there, checking on people to make sure they were alright. She loved holidays and days out with the members of the community and she loved the meals out. Most of 2015 Nancy had been helping the others trying out different pubs and restaurants for their Christmas Meal and had been looking forward to going to their chosen hostelry, the Five Bells at Bassingham what a pity she missed it. Interestingly Nancy never smoked or drank alcohol and lived in Coddington all her life.

            Nancy saw her family grow, welcoming in Yvonne, Derek and Lesley and seeing the births of grandchildren Sam, Tim, Tracey, Lisa and Jasmine, great-grandchildren Ben, Georgia, Dylan, Ellis, Lucy, Hannah, Jared and Maisie. And of course there are the great-great –grandchildren, Lilly and Lewis. Nancy loved and was delighted when she was with any or all her family.

            Nancy was an extremely keen “Bingo” player:- Monday night at The Bridge Community Centre, Newark, Tuesday night “The Green Centre”, Coddington, Saturday night a mini bus collected a few people from the village and went to Cresswell Crags, Derbyshire to play. She also attended every Bingo night that was held in the Village Hall, always playing with five bingo cards. Nancy looked forward to December, every year when she went on a five day coach trip “Turkey & Tinsel” to various locations eg:- Blackpool, Torquay. So she could play a bit more bingo.

            Nancy was a great fan of Daniel O’Donnell’s music and performances. She had been to see him several times live and used to get a Christmas card each year from him.

          Very sadly Ralph got Alzheimer’s so Nancy spent most of her time the last few years looking after him until the burden was too much for her and he had to go into Red Rose care home at Farndon.

            Unlike most of the people I have spoken to, Nancy said that village life is much better now, with quite a lot of activities going on; she does not remember there being much happening in the village in the good old days!

            Nancy easily made friends and they were friends for life and she would welcome them into the community. Nancy was also the person to turn too if you wanted to know what was going on – in fact I’m told she was known affectionately as the ‘News of the World”.

            John Kirton said “It was a very sad day when Nancy died on the 25th November 2015.

Many people did not recognise what Nancy did for the village, she was always smiling. Nancy was a real character; she was very popular in the village. She was a very caring person and would help anyone, for many years she looked after her elderly neighbours. She always enjoyed a good laugh”.

            Nancy was one the village stalwarts, Coddington History Group much appreciated her knowledge of the village and people who lived in Coddington. She was a Coddington lass through and through. She is missed by a great number of villagers.

Source:- CHGNancy’s life story as she told it to Irene Bell in 2003, her son John, John Kirton, Bernard Allen, Gill Burgess, Betty Troop and Reverend David Anderton.                               

                                                                                                            Fred Reed 31th January 2016.