Cockney farewell for Upton Park stalwart
- Credit: Archant
An East End send-off was the order of the day for a woman who stood at the heart of her community for more than nine decades.
A horse-drawn carriage yesterday led around 100 mourners through the borough to celebrate the life of Eileen Frances Coutts, whose passing at the age of 93 was marked with a guard of honour at the City of London Crematorium.
The youngest daughter of Louise and Thomas Stebbing was born on April 22, 1922 in Mile End. At five she moved to Upton Park, helping out at the corner shop her parents owned at the back of Queen’s Road Market.
“She never complained, whatever life threw at her she just got on with it,” remembers daughter Elaine Williamson, 59, one of four children Eileen would bring up single-handedly.
Mum of four, grandmum of 16 and great-grandmum of seven, Eileen’s accolades did not end there.
As well as her daily work selling curtains and linens in Queen’s Road market, later as a sales assistant in Walthamstow, Eileen somehow found time for other pursuits.
After her son Kevin joined the West Ham Thunderer Sea Cadets, Eileen helped serving food at the canteen, spending 40 years in their service, and eventually becoming vice chair of the committee. Eileen would retire only at the age of 91, long after her astonishing achievements were recognised with an MBE in 1997.
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“She was very proud to receive it and everyone who knew her agreed this was well-deserved. She was very small but spread so much joy,” added Elaine, who helped organise the procession from her mum’s home of 27 years in Redclyffe Road, Upton Park.
Nor did Eileen’s work stop at the Sea Cadets. Well into her 80s, Eileen would stand tirelessly outside West Ham Football Ground, collecting for the Royal British Legion.
“She will be sadly missed and will be remembered in her families’ hearts forever.”