Farewell to a matriarch

ONE of Newham’s oldest Caribbean women has died at the age of 102.

Around 250 friends and family gathered at Manor Park Methodist Church, Romford Road, to bid farewell to Christabel Emily Louise McClean.

The centenarian’s grandson Nigel said: “It was a fantastic day and a celebration of Christabel’s life. We did her proud.”

After a moving service, including Caribbean music, Christabel was laid to rest at the City of London Cemetery, Manor Park.

The great, great grandmother lived for many years with her daughter Gertrude in Sixth Avenue, Manor Park.

Christabel came to London from St Vincent in the Sixties to look after her grandchildren after her husband William, who was of Scottish-Irish descent, died.

For much of her life in Newham, Christabel worked as a child minder. She also took a part-time job at a post office in Manor Park in her seventies, helping out and keep an eye on customers as the unofficial store detective.

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Grand-daughter Deborah Quashie, 53, described Christabel as a “beautiful, caring and strong woman who loved children”.

Grandson Nigel, 50, said Christabel was a very Christian woman and the matriarch of the family.

“She was very bubbly, always dancing and singing. She kept healthy by walking and loved cooking Caribbean food,” he said.

Christabel is survived by her sisters, Louise, 88, in Canada, and Olive, 97, in St Vincent, daughter Gertrude, 77, eight grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren and three great, great grandchildren.