Lifetime of volunteering in community

Date: Monday 1st October 2018

A WOMAN who lived an “incredibly full life” and dedicated her time to volunteering and working for the community, Muriel Slee, has died, aged 91.

Muriel, daughter of the late Noble and Elizabeth Mounsey, was born at Langwathby and had two brothers, Stanley, of Skelton, and the late Robin, of Unthank. The family moved to take on a farm at Unthank when Muriel was a child and she attended Skelton School.

After school, she worked on the family farm and then began her life of volunteering in the community, initially joining Skelton Church choir and becoming a Sunday school teacher.

She was heavily involved with Skelton Young Farmers’ Club for 10 years, acting as chairman, secretary, treasurer and correspondent, while also taking on numerous roles at county level. During this time, she won many trophies for public speaking.

In 1950, through her work with the young farmers, she went, at the age of 24, on an exchange trip to Finland, spending a night near the Russian border.

Muriel was also a member of Skelton picnic committee and a founder member of the Rural Choir, nurturing her lifelong love of music. She was also a member of Skelton WI, where she acted as secretary.

Her involvement with Skelton show began in the 1950s, and she held the office of secretary and treasurer for 31 years. It was while involved with the show that she met her husband-to-be, Ernie, an insurance broker, local councillor and magistrate. They were married at Skelton Church in 1956.

The couple were instrumental in building up the small village show to the popular regional attraction it is today.

They had two children — John, of Penrith, who is married to Claire, and June Harvey, of Lincoln, who is married to Giles.

Once married, Muriel and Ernie lived at Beacon View, Newton Road, Penrith, which was their family home for the whole of their married life. Muriel enjoyed entertaining and many family and friends have fond memories of her marvellous cooking and the gorgeous puddings she prepared for their many dinner parties.

She was a school governor at Beaconside Primary School, Penrith, for 30 years and chairman for 12 years, as well as a governor at Wetheriggs School, Penrith.

Heavily involved with St Andrew’s Church, Penrith, Muriel was a Sunday school teacher for 14 years and maintained a strong Christian faith throughout her life. This proved a great comfort during her recent battle with cancer.

She held various roles in Penrith branch of the Mothers’ Union, having joined the group in 1962 and being a member for more than 50 years. She received a number of long service awards.

Another important aspect of her life was Penrith Inner Wheel Club, with which she held a number of posts, including president and secretary. In 2004, Muriel was given the Maragette Golding Award, the highest honour of Inner Wheel internationally, for services to the community over many years.

Muriel was a member of Penrith Barnardo’s group and acted as its chairman. She also spent time volunteering with the hospital trolley service for the Women’s’ Royal Voluntary Service, receiving a long service medal for her work in 1988. She also assisted with the talking newspaper, bringing the Herald to those unable to read it.

Last year, she was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship by Penrith Rotary Club, which normally goes just to Rotarians. She was honoured to attend the club’s charter night to receive this recognition of her contributions to making the world a better place.

In their spare time, Muriel and Ernie enjoyed travelling the world, often with friends, including visits to Rotarian friends in Penrith, Australia. They also enjoyed many cruises which Muriel continued with John and family after Ernie’s death in 2006.

John said his mother “lived life to the full” and, even when she was living in the Pele Court retirement development in Penrith she would be sure to be in charge of the raffle if an event was taking place.

Muriel is survived by her two children and daughter-in law and son-in law; two grandchildren, Daniel Slee and Amy Massie; and great-grandchildren Ava and Violet Massie.