“You were a mum so very rare, content in her home and always there.”
Phillis was born in Gawber, Barnsley on Tuesday 18th July 1933. She was the youngest of 10 children to Mr. and Mrs. Charlesworth. Coming from a big family had its challenges, 12 of them living in a two up and two down, it would certainly be first up best dressed! Sleeping arrangements were something else, mealtimes would probably be staggered into three sittings.
Phillis was born between the two world wars, she would be six years old at the start of WW2. The family would spend the next three years under the threat of bombings and blackouts. Life was a challenge for families of their generation and this was probably what shaped Phillis into the resilient and strong willed person she turned out to be.
Phillis grew up, in and around Gawber, attending the local schools, which included Raley school in Barnsley. Her first job when she left school was working in Woolworths for a time. She then went on to work on the Yorkshire Traction Buses, as a clippie. But from a very early age her mum made her learn to play the piano, telling her that if she learned well she would never have to work again! And she was right, Phillis practised hard and became an excellent pianist, joining a band that would play lots of gigs, many of them at Barnsley Catholic Club on Falcon Street. So Phillis made a career out of playing the piano, something she did for many a year.
Phillis met her future husband, Dennis O’Connell at Barnsley baths. It wasn’t while they were swimming, it was the in place to go if you liked dancing. They were to eventually marry at Holy Rood Church in Barnsley. They were to have just one son, Phillip but with Phillis and Dennis both coming from such large families, Phillip had lots of cousins that were more like brothers and sisters to him.
As his dad was at work a lot of the time Phil was to form a close bond with his mum. He described her as being very independent, simply because Phillis did most of the work around the house, something she just took for natural. She was very house proud and would always be cooking and baking, Phil said that there was always a lovely aroma wafting through the household. She was also very handy, she would nip down to the drapers for material, next thing you know there were nets and curtains hanging up at the windows. She even helped build them a conservatory!
To relax, Phillis enjoyed spending time away at sister, Mary’s caravan at Flamborough Head. There were also many holidays to Benidorm and Cyprus. Once Phil and Debra took her to Blackpool, and promptly lost her! Truth be known, she went walkabout! While they were frantically looking for her, Phillis was just enjoying herself, browsing the shops.
At home Phillis enjoyed the quiet life, she would pop to the hairdressers on a Wednesday before going to do the shopping. She enjoyed a bit of television, The Chase, Mrs. Brown’s Boys, Antiques Roadshow and Songs of Praise were some of her favourites. She knew all the words to the hymns, in fact she loved Christmas, singing all the wonderful Christmas Carols.
Phillis’ funeral took place on Wednesday 18th December at Barnsley Crematorium.