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In Memory of Cristabel Urry

In Memory of Cristabel Urry

(18th March 1937 to 10th March 2008)



Yesterday, on 22nd November 2008, around forty people gathered in Chappel churchyard for a very short service to inter Mum’s ashes. It was a bitterly cold day despite the winter sun shining across the valley. We moved across to the Millenium Green, to unveil a plaque by a red hawthorn tree, which is dedicated to her memory.


Mum plaque small.jpg

The plaque by the memorial tree on Chappel Millenium Green


Here are some quick links to make it easier to find what you want to:

If you would like to a recording of the funeral service, please contact me via this website.

The Funeral – reflections on Mum’s farewell

Cris Urry – her Life Story                            Order of Service for her Memorial

Cris Urry – what happened?                        Details of the Funeral

Video Tribute to Cris – sailing in Alma in the mid-Atlantic

Comments from Friends and Family            Have your say

Thank you from the family                           More photos


Hello! I’ve put this page together for all the friends of my mum. There’s the chance to leave your own comments here. Thank you for your interest and I hope that this is helpful. Sorry if it seems a little impersonal – but with so many friends from all around the world, this seems to be a practical way to keep people updated. Here is a short URL which gets to this page: tinyurl.com/2zano2

For information, by June, nearly a thousand people had viewed this page for an average of 4 minutes each.


Penny Pullan (one of Cris’s two daughters)

Here is a short video tribute by Roger Walker, showing Mum cooking 600 miles WNW of the island of St Helena (ie. mid-Atlantic) on Alma:

(For the search engines: common mis-spellings of mum’s name include Christabel Urry, Chris Urry.)

Reflections after Mum’s funeral

I’m writing this on a quiet early morning in Chappel, looking out of the window through the garden and on into the willow grove. There are two beautiful pheasants walking around just outside and a robin sitting on a fence post. The sun is shining. It’s very peaceful – unlike yesterday.

The day of Mum’s funeral was so different.

In the morning, we gathered at Colchester Crematoriam: Dad, Joss, William Geldart (Mum’s brother) and his family, me and my family, the Leftleys (who had been there when Mum died) together with Rev Tony and Diana Edmonds. Malcolm, my husband, joined the bearers to help carry in the coffin, as is done in New Zealand. We placed a small bunch of flowers from Mum’s beloved garden on top of the simple coffin. In a service that lasted less than 15 minutes, we committed Mum’s body for cremation. Both of my daughters Kathleen and Charlotte read very short poems. Tony, who is their godfather and has even sailed on Alma, read from Psalm 90 and Revelation 21 before an address that was as inspiring as it was short!

Before Mum’s memorial service, there was a torrential downpour which lasted hours. The walk from the car park to the church meant sometimes wading through fast flowing streams of water (I had to carry my children) and past overflowing storm drains. The surface water on the road, combined with the speed of the cars, meant that each passing car sent spray flying all over us – some people were drenched. Somehow though, it seemed appropriate weather – even the clouds were crying, as Kathleen said. It made me think of the saying: ‘Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it’. For, despite the water, people poured into Wakes Colne church. By 2pm, half an hour before the service, the pews were full. I don’t suppose that this little rural church has had so many people inside it for a long time.

The first hymn was ‘Lead Us Heavenly Father Lead Us o’er the World’s Tempestuous Sea’, an appropriate suggestion from the local rector,  Rev. John Richardson.

Humphrey Carr talked about Mum’s life for ten minutes – adding in his own personal experiences of her, as he knew Mum even before Dad met her. Thank you Humphrey.
Kathleen, my daughter, who is only eight, read a poem that she had written that morning:

Dear Granny,

You once lived with me! In the blue of the sky. And in the green of grass. Now I cry.

I miss you, standing nearby. My granny is nice and kind and she did get little things for me.

Rev. Dr Tony Edmonds suggested that we all bring to mind a memory of Mum when she was in her prime and asked for quiet for a while.

Charles Addis read the Psalm, which was number 139 verses 1 to 12. Verses 9 and 10 seemed particularly appropriate: ‘If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.’ Charles told us how he had advised Dad to marry Mum all those years ago. Thank you Charles for your reading and that wise counsel!

I read extracts from Job, 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 8, as used by Handel for his Messiah Part III. Then Tony gave us a sermon that managed to be at the same time inspiring, funny, erudite, interesting and full of hope, focussing on the resurrection. He made a wonderful job of the difficult task we’d given him with four different texts to preach on! Thank you Tony.
After another hymn (The Lords my Shepherd), John said the prayers. Tony got us to stand for the Commendation. Finally, we sang ‘Guide me O thou Great Redeemer’ before moving out of the church and trying to find our umbrellas! The rain had stopped and I certainly felt that we’d given Mum a very good send off.

Afterwards, we moved to the Village Hall, where Liz Price and Mum’s other friends prepared a really delicious tea for us all – thank you so much for all your hard work and for taking the wake completely out of our hands. It’s hard to remember exactly what everyone said, but thank you for kind words to me, Jossy and to Dad.

We have recorded the service and will be able to provide it to you if you are interested – please contact me by clicking here – you can use the same form if you’d like to comment on the funeral.

As before, click here to see the order of service. Here’s Cris’s life story too.

What’s Happened?

Mum had been fit and well right up to her death on Monday evening 10th March. In fact, on Saturday, she had spent the whole day in the garden getting it ready for spring. It looks lovely! Around 6pm on Monday, Dad (Hugh Urry) was sorting something out in the downstairs loo. He came back to show mum something and found her lying at the bottom of the stairs in a heap. It looked as if she’d fallen at least part of the way down. She had head injuries from hitting the post at the bottom of the stairs. What a shock! Initially she was breathing, but only just. Dad phoned for an ambulance and also phoned the Leftleys – wonderful neighbours. Helen Leftley appeared within two minutes and she and Dad tried all sorts of ressucitation methods until the ambulance appeared a while later. Unfortunately, even with all the equipment in the ambulance, no-one was able to revive her. Helen and John Leftley took Dad in their car behind the ambulance to Colchester General Hospital, where her death was confirmed. The whole family descended on the house on Tuesday 11th – that’s Joss, my sister, and me and my children (Kathleen and Charlotte Pullan). My husband, Malcolm, flew back from New Zealand, where he was researching for his book.

After a post-mortem, we heard from the coroner’s office on 13th March that the cause of death was a massive heart attack, which led her to fall down the stairs. Because it was ‘natural causes’, we now know that no inquest is needed. The official cause of death was ‘haemopericardium due to myocardialinfarction due to coronory artery atheroma’. What a mouthful!

The Funeral

There was a Memorial and Thanksgiving Service for Cristabel Urry on Friday 28th March at 2:30pm at All Saints’ Church, Wakes Colne, followed by afternoon tea in the Village Hall, Wakes Colne.

The villages of Chappel and Wakes Colne are on the Colchester-Cambridge road, the A1124, around seven miles from Colchester. 

Click here to see the order of service. Here’s Cris’s life story too.  

baby.jpg   girls.jpg 

More about Wakes Colne links 

Mum’s been associated with Wakes Colne parish church for years. Here’s mum’s ‘Sun, Moon and Planets’ for the their Flower Festival last year:


Have your say

If you would like to add your comments, then please click here to submit them. Please see the end of this page to see a small fraction of what’s come in to us. Thank you.

Thank you to so many people

for all their kind words and thoughts. Dad has been stunned and occupied ringing all the friends and family, but that’s mostly done now. He has so many kinds friends and neighbours who have offered to help him adjust, by offering meals and practical support. Thank you. It will make so much difference, espcially as he’s had major back surgery a few months ago.

Mum’s friends in the village catered for her funeral tea party, because she was so special. That’s wonderful – thank you.

We’re very pleased that a family friend (Rev Dr) Tony Edmonds who joined us for both services for Mum’s funeral. He’s god-father to both of Mum’s grandchildren (my daughters), a good friend of Malcolm (my husband) and has even sailed on Alma with Dad. He’ll be alongside Rev John Richardson, our local rector, for the Memorial Service. Thank you Tony and John.

More photos

Here’s a picture of mum last year on Alma – the boat on which she sailed across the Atlantic three times over the last decade. The second photo shows Mum standing by the viaduct which passes close to their house. Dad took lots of photos as Mum had just been made a Parish Councillor and needed to have a picture. She really wasn’t very keen on having photos taken! Here’s the Parish Council website – with lots of information on what to do in Chappel. The Parish Council meeting on 12th March was postponed for a month following Mum’s death.

MumOnAlma.jpg  viaduct.jpg

What people have said:

Here are just a few of the comments we’re received from all around the world:

Crissay was one of my greatest friends. I shall miss her dreadfully. We always had such fun and all today since I received the sad message I have been thinking of all the laughter and companionship we have had over many years – the time when we set off from London to see a friend in Cris’s green Austin Healey sprite with just a vague idea of where we were going ending up at some pub in Kintbury about midnight and giggling helplessly to our more recent visits to Chappell and Cornwall and wonderful days in London going to exhibitions and visiting her old Auntie Marjorie – since l955 when we first met in South Kensington at our secretarial colleges. We have remained close friends in spite of many separations when Cris was wandering the world whether with the War Office, Navy, South Africa or in the last few years as she and Hugh were on the high seas. She was the most wonderful person with a terrific sense of humour and a true and consicentious friend – so kind and generous. This is not an adequate description of what she meant to me – I just know she was a real star and our lives will be a lot emptier without her. For Hugh and their two daughters this loss is difficult to imagine and the only consolation to be had is that she was still living her life to the full up until the moment she died and that she has left behind such wonderful memories of what a great friend she was and of all the good times we had together. We are terribly sad that we are going to miss the Service on the 28th as we shall be India. Crissay and I had great fun keeping in touch with our emails and our last ones were on the 8th and 9th March when she told me she was to be a Parish Councillor. I will be writing to Hugh but in the meantime this rather inadequate message comes with all our love at this sad time. Flo

I met chris and hugh in fial in 2006, and i truly recall our time tied up to alma as one of the highlights of my voyage. chris was such a gracious woman, and the humor and hospitality we on fiona enjoyed with alma’s crew are something i will always appreciate. your family has my deepest condolances. Mickey Forde, New York

Hugh, Pinge and Joss, I was so sad to hear that Crissy had died.  My love and thoughts go to you all and my prayers as well.  Hugh you had a great lady for your wife and a wonderful mother to your girls.  She will be sadly missed by all but of course especially by all her family.

Crissy, We had been friends since 1973 when two little girls got through the hedge in Cape Town and announced that they were Penny and Jos Urry and that their parents were Hugh and Cris Urry and that they had moved in next door.  As you can say that was history and Cris and I became such good friends, despite the fact that we did not always live in the same country.
Due to Cris we ended up working in the NHS at adjoining desks, which was great fun although hard work.  She has left such a huge void in my life as she was always there for me and everyone she knew.  She was a great great lady and  will be missed by everyone who knew her. Gilly

How sorry and shocked I was to hear of Cris’s death. I am Margaret Michell’s sister by the way. I first met Cris in the 60’s in Malta when I was 18, my first venture abroad. She was a lovely friendly person and I feel privileged to have known her. My thoughts and prayers will be with you on the 28th. Liz Rickard.

Words are always so inadequate at a time like this and I find it very diffucult indeed to express my shock and profound sadness at the news of Cris’s parting. I inherited Cris as a very dear friend of my late wife Jennifer. They had known each other for a lifetime. A litle less than a year ago I was much touched by the fact that Chris came up to London especially to meet my daughter Nicola as a way of remembering her departed friend. It was a very human act so typical of Cris and meant a very great deal to me and my daughter. We sat and lunched outdoors in warm April sunshine and remenisqued -as older people are inclined to do. I will forever be grateful for being able to remember Chris on this very special occasion.
Meantime my sincerest and deepest sympathies go to Hugh at this time of loss. Bob Bleasby

My deepest sympathies go out to Cris’ family. I was so shocked to hear the news and can only thank modern technology for hearing of it – thank you, Penny.
I live in the USA and we had hoped to get together a year or two ago when Cris and Hugh were “sailing the high seas” – regretfully we never did. I first knew Cris when we were in a hostal together and met many friends that I believe we have both kept up with all these years. Then, we were room mates in a flat which you accessed from a fire escape in London where we shared many great nights of uncontrollable laughter!! I shall always remember those times and the happy person she always was.
If any of our mutual friends see this, please contact me. I live in North Carolina with husband, Tony, and my email address is pdesoutter at hotmail.com. Penny Desoutter (nee Shaw)

Dear Hugh, Penny, Malcolm and Jossie
We are so shocked to hear that your mom has passed away. We are so sad for all of you. We spent a lovely few days with your folks in Colchester …. and went for a sail on Alma. I remember her when we were kids in Tokai, and when we were older in Plett when your grandparents had that house between Beacon Island Beach and Look Out. Time passes so fast in retrospect. Your Dad and Mom made quite a team … travelling and all their sailing. We are very sad for all of you. With love Andre and Wendy

Dear Hugh and Family,
Jim and I would like to extend our deepest sympathy to you and your family. We were stunned at the news of Chris’s passing and pray that you will find peace in the knowledge that she is now in the most wonderful Kingdom of Heaven! No cares, pain or stress!! We have such wonderful memories of you both in Knysna!! The best being the evening we brought Bets out to you by boat. You were anchored near Featherbed and the JRF’S were also on board. Bets was so excited and we munched and drank happily, beneath the stars!! I will remember Chris with such admiration and fondness. Such a lovely person in every way!! May you recover well from the operation, Hugh. So sorry you have had to endure all of this!! God Bless and comfort you at this time! Margot

Dear Hugh, Penny, Jos and family
We are so sorry for your loss and our thoughts and prayers are with you. Hugh, I remember fondly the weekend I spent on board Alma in Felixstowe with you and Cris. She was very caring and made me feel so welcome and comfortable. Thank you. When you are down in South Africa again please come and spend some time with us in Plett.
With love,
Brendon, Sally, Max and Hannah Morris

We will miss Cris very much …..having been friends for at least 35 years from Tokai days in the Cape, when our children were growing up together, to often spending time with them in Chapel, Colchester in their lovely home. We had common interests such as sailing and loved seeing them almost annually when they spent time on their yacht Alma in Knysna. They often came to Plett and visited us on Hill and Dale.
Cris was an exceptional woman – amazingly brave and keen for adventure. She crossed the Atlantic with Hugh from South America to Cape Town and encountered a huge storm which they managed to survive, and even after that they sailed back to England via the Carribean. She had a small frame but supported Hugh in his passion for sailing amazingly….. they made a wonderful team.

Her quiet, reseved personality was always positive and cheerful ….. and we had many a good laugh together. This sad news has come as a huge shock to us and Wendy and Andre, Brendon and Lynell join us in mourning your devastating loss. We shall be thinking of you all on the 28th and send you our deepest sympathy and prayers for God’s arms to enfold your family and give you comfort at this time and in the months to come. With much love, June and Chris

I know how you all feel now and how you will soon feel. You have my sympathy. Richie

It was a privilege to know Chris – or Penny’s Mum as we thought of her. She was warm and caring – and had such a lovely sense of humour. She was intelligent – and it was always a real pleasure to talk with her. Tony and I enjoyed visits from Chris and Hugh so much – and we shall miss her.  Diana

Dear Hugh and family,
We were so sad and shocked when we got the awful news about Cris and will remember her and be thinking of all of you on the 28th.
We think of her charm, kindness and warm natural friendliness, as also her great sense of humour.
Although Joan only got to know her since our marriage in 2002, I have enduring memories of happy times in Plettenberg Bay, Capetown, Pretoria and also Chappel.

Anne was especially fond of Cris and thought that her brother had done “very well” to find such a wonderful girl.

Joan and I were so happy that we had the opportunity to visit her recently in England and spend such a happy day! The grand children thought she was just the nicest granny, as she offered them toys to play with and cool drinks, and then took them all for a wonderful walk to the viaduct.
We will miss her and remember her, joining you in your sad loss.
Love to all,
Bill and Joan


Dear Hugh, Penny, Malcolm, the children & Joss,
we were both devastated by the news, when Hugh Phoned us, especially as we both had spent 3 nights with Cris and Hugh in Chappel, at the end of Jan.
We had such a lovely time, with many reminiscences, and had a really interesting morning helping to clean Alma a little bit.
As her cousin from the Garlick side of the family, I have especially from my youth some wonderful memories of Cris. I remeber her when I was still in short pants in Tanganyika coming to visit us, and thinking to myself what a brave lady she was to come out all that way to wild africa, and tour around. I have wonderful memories of Cris taking me back to school in her Triumph. The times I stayed at Inholms with Bill and Kate, and saw her regularly when she came for week ends. She even gave me my first driving lesson. we both loved her dearly for her wonderful sense of humour, nothing seemed to faze her. Her bravery, sense of adventure, and efficiency. We are so sad we could not be there for the day, and our thoughts were with you all. Thank you Penny for your technological prowess in allowing us to communicate and see the service by Video.
To you all, I truly hope, that if you have the chance to come to SA, you will come and stay with us, we would love to see you.
With Love and great affection, Perry & Meg Garlick

Tom & I were very saddened to hear of Chris’s death. Both of you were quite helpful and encouraging when talking of your experiences in Brazil. We still have your cruising guides, have read them several times,and plan to use them this fall; we will return them to you thereafter. Due to Jean’s knee issues, we have been delayed in getting to South America.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you cope with the loss of Chris.
Fair winds,
Tom & Jean Service
SV Jean Marie
Chaguaramas, Trinidad

There were many more comments – these are only those that wished to be displayed publically on the webpage.