Amy Child/Barton – Helen Kegie’s Mother
Amy Child was born at Tidenham in Gloucestershire in 1895, to Joseph Child and Mary Sargent. She was the youngest of the 10 surviving children, together with her twin brother George. She grew up at Sunnyside, Tutshill and was very close to three of her brothers, known as Len, Don , Am, Tu and Smoo (the dog). They had a wonderful childhood with a great deal of freedom, playing in the fields around the house, and to call them in from the fields for meals, their mother used to ring an old brass school bell. Growing up in a male-dominated household, it was natural that Amy would turn out to be a real tomboy and, when she was a young adolescent, her parents decided to send her to a school for young ladies at Church Lench in Worcestershire!
During the First World War, before she was married, Amy looked after her parents at Hillside, Tidenham.
In 1920 she visited her brother Graham in Marseilles – keeping a diary of that trip – and in November of that year she married Alfred Quinton Barton, who had just set up a pharmacy at Cinderford in the Forest of Dean. The business flourished and in 1926 it was moved to better premises in Cinderford.
Amy took her role as a wife and mother very seriously and saw her job as looking after the family and running an efficient household. She was very creative and an excellent cook, as well as being a skilled dressmaker, making dresses for herself and the girls. She attended evening classes to learn wood-making skills - which she thoroughly enjoyed - and also made a leather case, a tea trolley and a wooden box (Helen made the tapestry cover for this). Amy also attended oil painting classes in Coleford and became a very good painter. Helen still has one of her oil paintings, a portrait of an old man from the area.
The family enjoyed a comfortable life with a large family network, as Amy was one of ten children, while Alfred was one of nine. This provided many family contacts and trips to visit Alfred’s family in the Isle of Wight.
Amy was a very strong Baptist and the family attended the large Baptist church in Cinderford, with the children attending Sunday School, where Amy was one of the teachers. When the family moved to Elmlea in Staunton in 1946, at first they used to go to the Baptist church in Coleford. They made the decision to move from Cinderford to Staunton to put some distance between the chemist's shop where Alfred worked long hours and the family home where hopefully he would have more free time. When they moved to Elmlea it was a very rundown cottage with no gas or electricity.
Amy soon settled in Staunton and immersed herself in village life, becoming an active member of All Saints Church, Staunton, and helping to organise church events. Alfred was the leader of the bellringers at the church and Amy was also chairwoman of Staunton Women's Institute for a number of years. She became great friends with Mary, who was the daughter of the vicar of All Saints, and they attended evening classes and W.I. meetings together. Amy was a good leader with strong moral values and a well-respected figure in the community. Helen describes her "as treating others as equals".
After Alfred died in 1956, Amy went on holiday in 1959 to America to visit her sister Edith and her family, and this holiday is recorded in her diary written at the time. For many years Amy went on holidays with her children Helen, Margaret and Richard, including a ‘school cruise’ around the Mediterranean and down the west coast of Africa where there were only 12 ‘ordinary’ passengers on the ship and the rest were pupils and their teachers. Helen remembers how they used to enjoy the lectures that they attended with the pupils. Other holidays included one to Norway and another driving holiday through France where they visited St. Omer, where Alfred had been stationed in the First World War.
Amy was close to her children and her grandchildren and very much enjoyed the time they spent together. Just before her death in 1983 Amy had been on a family holiday with Helen, Margaret, Richard and his family in Cornwall. After the two weeks' holiday they all returned home and spent Sunday together in Staunton. On Monday the family had all left and Amy was on her own with Bunty, the local lady who came in to help her with the house. They ate lunch together before Amy went to lie on her bed for a rest and passed away in her sleep.