Betty Hook - Potterers Cycling Club

The Potterers Cycling Club
Pottering in Kent since 1971
The Potterers Cycling Club
Pottering in Kent since 1971
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Words > Obituaries
Betty Hook (13/3/1925-8/1/2020)
Betty was born in Hemel Hempstead, and grew up with her younger sister Rita. From an early age, Betty was confident and spoke her mind. At school, Betty could be relied on to give a comprehensive account of who had said or done what, and was a reliable witness to everything that went on.  She had a happy childhood, and later worked as a secretary for her Dad. Amongst other things Betty was an accomplished pianist. When she was young she played in a swing quartet during the war.  She took up cycling as a hobby and became really proficient.
Betty held a national cycling track record for over four years. She decided not to continue as she found her pre-start nerves too hard to bear. It was cycling that brought Len and Betty together.
Betty picked Len up from a ditch where he had fallen from his bike on the Brighton to Glasgow road race shortly after the war. Len used to tease Betty calling her Bossy Bet from Bedfordshire, and also told how her father’s employees referred to her as the Boss's Bossy daughter! They got married and John was born in November 1949. Then Peter followed in 1953. There was a gap, and then along came the twins Simon and Dinah in 1959. The family were living in Eaton Bray below Dunstable Downs, a village in the Chilterns. It was always a bohemian style family, and while the twins sat in their high chairs, a pet hen, Higgledy Piggledy, wandered around tidying up after meals. Len worked as a toolmaker. Betty often worked outside the home doing market research and at one time running her own junk shop. She had a lifelong passion for bargain hunting and old and unusual furniture and bric a brac. One artefact, a stuffed crocodile, gave Peter nightmares for some time, after brother John hid it in his bed for a joke.
The family moved quite frequently from one renovation to the next at a time when most families wouldn't dream of taking on such projects. As a result they lived in a wonderful old forge, a large old farmhouse, an ex-pub (haunted) and finally, Athol Terrace, by which time they had a small but very lovely old house (renovated entirely by themselves of course) in the Dordogne, Chancel. Len and the boys were put to work (somewhat reluctantly) but it was very much Betty's vision and determination that steered them. She was an amazing interior designer, and many of the features of their houses were really inspiring and unusual. She was also a passionate gardener, working tirelessly to create a place of beauty.
The whole family were passionate about cycling. John and Simon followed in Len's footsteps, joining the road cycling world and competing in races, Simon at professional level.  Simon's life was tragically cut short in when he died in an accident in 1995.
Before tourism got started Betty and Len were keen travellers driving all over Europe and camping. Betty was never happier than when she was staying in a different campsite every night – she always found someone new to talk to. Simon suffered with car sickness, and one of their cars was known as the Vauxhall Vomitorium. Then there was the family Land Rover, tended to by Len.  In the back a bucket of washing that Betty said would wash as the car bumped and whizzed along. Then bits of it could be hung out of the window to dry as they sped ever onwards. Peter remembers Betty always cooking. At the end of a day travelling, the four children would be shut in the tent while Betty concocted a delicious stew for the family. Betty loved cooking and making amazing feasts and banquets for parties and dinners to whom everyone – friends, family, and anyone who happened to be passing, was always made welcome.
Betty and Len loved France, and spent much of their time at Chancel – their house in the Dordogne, travelling there in the Spring and returning to Athol Terrace in Dover in late Autumn. Betty continued various projects in France, including working alongside a house agent and finding houses for friends who also wanted to live in the area. Dinah also spent a lot of time in France, and for a long time worked as a guide at the Lasceau Caves.
Even in later years, Len and Betty still enjoyed travelling, always camping out of the back of their car. They enjoyed touring around other parts of France and Spain, always keen for adventures and making new friends.
Her family were all important to Betty as well as her many friends.     
Betty loved her grandchildren who have great memories of holidays spent with her and Len in the Dordogne. She loved her great grandchildren too. Although she didn't meet her youngest, Alexandra, she smiled whenever she looked at her photo. She knew her great grandsons, Fred and Rupert and loved to see them.
Towards the end, even Betty had to slow down eventually. Gradually she grew more tired and less able physically.  She was confined to bed most of the time over the last two years, but still enjoyed a positive outlook, welcoming family and friends who visited, enjoying the view from her window and looking at pictures and her favourite magazines, house and garden – and always the Francophile, Maison et Jardin. Just before last Christmas, she said people probably thought she was lazy, staying in bed all the time, but she had so many plans for what she was going to do in the future. “There's a bit of yellow material...and I'm going to cover that chair with it.”   Planning and creative to the end.

Nicky Hook

Note this over view of Betty’s life was read aloud at her funeral service held at Barham Crematorium on 3rd February. Most of the Potterers Committee plus Andy Jones, Sue and Brian, were present
usque ad mortem bibendum
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