“People person” who ran park cafe for more than a decade dies, aged 84

Date: Tuesday 3rd July 2018

A POPULAR Penrith woman who loved people and treasured her family, Betty Askins, has died, aged 84.

Betty was born to Tom and Jane Winder at Caldbeck. She had two siblings, Norman Winder, of Kirkbride, and Jean Tickell, who lives at Carlisle.

She was educated at Caldbeck School and Nelson Thomlinson Grammar School, Wigton, and on finishing education moved to Penrith and worked in the offices of the Penrith Co-op and then for T. E. Swainson in the town, boarding at Elm Terrace.

At Caldbeck Church on 2nd April, 1955, Betty married Kenneth (Ken) Askins, a schoolteacher. They were married for 39 years until Ken’s death in 1994.

The couple had four children — Christine Barnes, of Bermuda; Stephen Askins, of Hemel Hempstead; Andrew Askins, of Newby; and Nigel Askins, of Preston.

The number one priority in Betty’s life was her family, and her support and affection for her nine grandchildren knew no limits. A “people person”, Betty went out of her way to make visitors and new residents of Penrith feel welcome and included.

While out in her garden at Fell Lane, which was a great passion of hers, she would enjoy chatting to backpackers walking up the hill to the youth hostel.

When backpackers occasionally found the hostel full, they would head back to Betty’s and she would offer her living room floor to bed down for the night. Such visitors would often stay in touch with her.

A keen traveller, Betty thoroughly enjoyed experiencing other cultures. She visited Bermuda at least 20 times and, as was her nature, hosted many visitors from there.

Betty had numerous hobbies alongside gardening and travelling, including cooking and dancing. She was a member of the Penrith Hospital League of Friends, sitting on the committee for many years, and was also a member of Penrith Tuesday Club.

She was an active member of the Young Wives at St Andrew’s Church, which went on to become the Tuesday Club. She acted in a variety of committee positions until ill health prevented her from attending. She treasured the many friendships made at the group in her 60 years in the town.

For more than a decade in the 1970s Betty ran the tea shop at Castle Park, during which time she served tea and her famous gingerbread and shortbread to visitors.

She was always available with a helping hand and advice to all who visited Castle Park, tending to the minor injuries sustained by children and teenagers playing there. She was affectionately known as “Mrs A” by her regulars, who continued to refer to her by that name in the years to come.

One of the tributes to Betty stated she had a “life well lived”. Many others mentioned how welcoming she had been and how, once a friendship had been formed with her, she was a friend for life.

She is survived by her children and their spouses, Christine and Philip Barnes, Stephen and Valerie Askins, Andrew and Katya Askins and Nigel and Marjan Askins; and nine grandchildren.