Dilys in 1931

Reverend Tony Moore's eulogy at Dilys' funeral at All Saints Church in Little Cornard, in September 2008, tells her story:

"I... have a clear memory, as a child, of seeing her on Newton Green; she spoke to me, I cannot remember what about, but I do have etched in my memory a picture of a beautiful woman astride a shining chestnut horse - like something from a Munnings painting, and I was impressed. Perhaps it was the first time I registered feminine beauty.... there was something very special about Dilys Deeks; she had dignity and grace and was certainly a beautiful woman and a capable one.

Dilys was born at an Army Barracks [in Sheffield] in February 1914... and was christened Alice Mary but, when her father returned from manoeuvres in Wales, he wanted her to be called Dilys.....

Dilys was second youngest in the family ... she walked to the infant school in Hadleigh... and later attended Sudbury High School for Girls. She was aged 12 when she went there and rode to and from school on a motor bike inherited from her brother; all her life she had fond memories of that motor bike. Her father said it was cheaper than the bus! Mr Cooley was much given to ideas of economy. One, not popular with his daughters, was to buy a knitting machine to make all their stockings, but he never managed to turn the heels.
During the 1920s the car he drove was a 2-seater Morgan. Father and Mother sat in the front and the lucky child whose turn it was..rode in the back hanging on to a strap; Dilys remembers visiting relatives in London in this fashion.

After school Dilys applied to train as a nurse at the London Hospital. To fill in the time until she was old enough to begin that training she worked at St Leonard's Hospital, Sudbury, and enjoyed it very much. One of the patients was a young Basil Deeks who had two handsome older brothers. On his recovery, Basil's mother insisted they all attend a dance being held in Sudbury Town Hall in aid of the hospital. It was there that the romance between Kenneth and Dilys began. Dilys was told what a wonderful young man she was marrying - and told it so often that she startled one elderly gentleman by replying "I'm rather nice, too!"

Dilys & Ken on their wedding day

The happy couple were married in Hadleigh Church in June 1934. They first lived at Poplars, Little Waldingfield whilst a house built for them was completed. They never really liked the new house and in 1939 moved to a lovely old thatched farmhouse - Goldings - which they made into a comfortable family home.

Shirley was born in 1935, Jean in 1938; both have happy memories of the years at Goldings, complete with horses, ponies, dogs and cats. In spite of Mr Cooley's scepticism; "she's too dumpy", he said, Kenneth, an accomplished horseman, taught Dilys to ride and so they were able to share Kenneth's love of hunting.

War came and the fear of invasion. Kenneth joined the Home Guard as Officer in Charge, the local Captain Mainwaring, and Dilys sorted salvage in the barn at Goldings, helped with the village jam-making effort, drove a pony and cart to visit those at Pond Hall, coped with the blackout, 'dug for victory' and 'made do and mend' like everyone else.

After the war there was time for holidays, tennis parties, hunting and dancing. Ever the charming hostess, Dilys did much entertaining, including tea for some 200 people after Newton Point to Point. She was also a keen supporter of and worked for various charitable bodies. Dilys' great love for gardening gave her much pleasure; it was an interest she shared with her sisters; a grandchild remarked, "They're always talking and it's always about flowers". Dilys enjoyed arranging flowers and was responsible for the flower rota in the church - and church cleaning rota too - for nearly 50 years, having inherited the task when her mother-in-law died. I recall with what special care she arranged [All Saints] church for Harvest Festival and those involved in her spring cleaning methods will recall her insistence upon everywhere and everything being scrubbed down, involving much sloshing of water..

Following the death of Kenneth's mother the family moved into Grays Hall in 1951 and, before long, to their great joy, grandchildren began to arrive. After 20 years their bungalow was built under Dilys' watchful eye to which they moved the year of their Golden Wedding celebrations.

Sadly, Kenneth died in 1981 and the light of Dilys' life went out. Dilys in later life She made the best she could of the situation and took much comfort in family life, and delight in great grandchildren now arriving at regular intervals until she could boast eleven of them. Dilys survived Kenneth for 21 years living close to her family, of which she was justly proud. Through those years, especially latterly, they were ... able to reciprocate the care and love she had so naturally bestowed upon them.

Kenneth and Dilys were stalwarts of [All Saints] church and did much to enhance the fabric and the worship there, although sticklers for traditional form; neither was that keen on change.

Hearing of her death a friend of the family wrote, "What a delightful lady Dilys was. She must have come very high in any competition to find the perfect wife". Mother, grandmother and great grandmother, too..."