Kath Lawrence – a remarkable life

KathKathleen Grace Lawrence, formerly Kynman, nee Webb, went peacefully to meet her Lord at the wonderful age of 102 this year.

She learned the following poem at Yarnbrook Chapel, Sunday School in 1916 as World War 1 raged, she was aged five. She then recited it from memory in 2007, 91 years later here at North Bradley Baptist Church. Her recital was recorded at the time and played at her funeral, you can hear it for yourself by clicking The Bible poem.

Bible poem

The Bible: this is a precious book indeed,
Happy the child that loves to read.
It’s God’s own word, which He has given,
To show our souls the way to heaven.

It tells us how the world was made,
And how good men, The Lord obeyed.
From His command, and written too,
It teaches what we ought to do.

It bids us all from sin to fly,
Because our souls can never die,
It points to heaven where angels dwell
And warns us to escape from hell.

Be thankful children that you may,
Read this good bible, every day.
It’s gods own word that he has given,
To show our souls the way to heaven.

Born at the Rank, North Bradley, the youngest of eight to Bertha and Fred Webb, who made his living around the village and farms clearing and digging ditches. With only very basic healthcare both she and her mother were in grave danger at her birth, but pulled through by God’s grace. Conditions were austere and Kath remembers the fire man on the steam train which used to pass by North Bradley, throwing coal for her mother to use to keep them all from freezing, but there was a great sense of close community which Kath always remembered with the utmost fondness. We asked her to tell us in light of the Queen’s Jubilee, which was also her hundredth birthday year, what she remembered of the coronation. She told us they had no tv or car in 1952, but her dad bought a black and white set for the occasion and their big family gathered and watched the whole thing – ‘marvellous’ she said.

Kath was a popular child at North Bradley school who would often be found visiting the elderly after class, doing odd jobs. Her mother when asked “Where’s Kath?” often replied that she was visiting someone, making them a cup of tea. Sometimes her mother would get cross but Kath loved caring for people and this continued to be her abiding passion through life and became her profession until she retired at the great age of 78.

She married Harold Kynman at 21 and moved to The Cottage in the Field, Yarnbrook. They had two children together, Harry and Maureen. Harry emigrated to New Zealand in the 1950’s and has a family with Glenys whom Kath visited five times. They have three daughters who loved their Grandma and her visits – their friends thought she was ‘cool’. Maureen, Kath’s daughter, a lovely Christian, was ill for many years and sadly died shortly before Kath. Maureen had her daughter Sue who gave her two great-grand sons, Kieth and Jason. Alex and Emily are her great-grand daughters in New Zealand. She always had a great connection and delight in children and rejoiced to see the little ones coming to the services at Church.

For her 80th birthday, Kath was taken in a hot air balloon by her niece Doreen and husband Jack, at 90 she said she wanted to try hang gliding, but no one would go with her. In 1992, aged 82 Kath married a second time, to Albert Lawrence, though sadly Albert, whose Christian faith and company she so admired, died just three months after their wedding. Harold, her first husband had been a prisoner of the Japanese during WW2, and had come back a broken and deeply disturbed man as did many, this made the latter years of the marriage very difficult at times.

Her early working life began in the second world war, at the Avon in Melksham, making gas masks. Later she worked in Westbury packing parcels fir the troops. It was after that she joined Age Concern and became a carer, the work she would continue until she retired.

Kath was a big fan of HRH as the photo on her mantelpiece showed, the card in the middle is the one she got to mark her 100th. That said, despite all the Queen’s hard work, and the peace and prosperity, Kath said the last 60 years have not all been good news. She lamented that she’d seen people drift away from the Lord, community becoming far less close and caring, and she didn’t know how she would have coped with the breakdown of the whole old way of life without the Lord as her shepherd to guide her through.

We asked what if anything she would say to people growing up today, looking forward to the next 60 years. Her answer was simple – love is the most important thing, living for yourself is not the answer, caring for others is what counts – live without love and you are an empty frame she said. Sobering words.

You only had to listen to her Grand-daughter Sue paying tribute at Kath’s funeral to know this was true ‘Nan helped bring me up as my dear mum couldn’t cope and my dad went to work, . She instilled the best family values in which which I’ve carried throughout my life. I owe my life to her, she was the rock of our family and I shall miss her tremendously.’ A sentiment shared by many. Sue recounted times ‘walking down the fields to the baptising bridge, picking flowers, mushrooms and blackberries. Never any bad times, only good. Nan always made sure I looked my best for Sunday school, always made sure I had new clothes for Church anniversaries. Nan was always singing, always smiling, never grumbling. She rarely missed Church, always doing something for her Lord and Rock, her faith was her everything. ‘The Lord is gracious’ she would say if she didn’t know the answer in a situation ‘let’s leave it in His hands.’ Her faith was an inspiration to us all.’

Psalm 23 was one of her favourite as it showed how the Lord provides everything His flock needs, a psalm of contentment and hope based in a well established faith in the Shepherd. We know that now, with her daughter Maureen, she will be among the great multitude in glory, praising God.