"No sadness, only tears of laughter" for Bessie Underwood, who has died aged 94

Bessie Underwood (nee Flintoft), who has died at 94, was a recipient of a British Empire Medal for her selfless voluntary commitment to provide functions for the elderly in the village of Castleton, near Whitby.

By Louise Perrin
Monday, 23rd December 2019, 9:38 am
Updated Monday, 23rd December 2019, 9:38 am
Bessie Underwood with her British Empire medal, which she was awarded in 2017.
Bessie Underwood with her British Empire medal, which she was awarded in 2017.

Bessie was born at Hole House Fryup on the February 1 1925 to parents, Wilfred and Elsie. She was raised and educated with her three brothers in Westerdale, but lived most of her life in Castleton after moving there in 1950.

Known and respected throughout the community as a positive and active person she was involved with numerous village organisations particularly the over 60's club and Methodist Bulb Show.

She helped with various fundraising events over many years, running weekly raffles at the village hall to help raise funds, for over forty years she cooked meals for neighbours as part of her daily routine.

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Bessie spent much of her working life on the family farm and was a much in demand cleaner at many residences around Castleton as well as at the village’s Downe Arms.

In later years she had a very active social life. She was a member of two quiz teams, regularly played bridge and canasta, an avid scrabble player and travelled miles on the Heather Hopper, a local voluntary run service in Castleton.

Bessie was also a font of local knowledge and history and recalled memories of the area in the book Nine Cups of Coffee and Two Scones, and in the 2015 documentary Living memories.

She enjoyed travelling, visiting Australia and Canada, and loved going to Scotland with her late husband Reg, a well known postman in the upper Esk Valley.

In 2017, she was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to Elderly People in Castleton.

She died peacefully on Sunday December 15 after a short illness but in her words: “wanted no sadness only tears of laughter.”

She is survived by her two sons Robert and Leslie, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.