Tributes paid to former Silverdale parish councillor

Eva Holden
Eva Holden

Eva lived in times of great change.

Born in 1925 in Oldham, Lancashire, she left school at 14-years-old and began work at a local garage as a secretary.

When war broke out that same year, her brother Stan immediately signed up for the army.

Following his example and wanting to do her bit, Eva joined A V Roe and company (later to become known as Avro) where she worked as part of a team, inspecting the completed parts of the Lancaster bombers at the Chadderton site in Manchester. More than 7,000 Lancaster bombers were built during the war, with nearly half being built at the Chadderton site where around 18,000 workers built parts for the famous Second World War aircraft.

The efforts of the workers at A V Roe were recognised by Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, head of Bomber Command, who wrote a glowing thank-you letter to Avro for the important part the Lancaster had played in the war.

Eva always maintained her sense of humour during those difficult times and Eva’s daughter Lynne recalls one of her mother’s memories of her work at A V Roe.

Lynee said: “Mum always maintained that all the bullet holes in the wings of Lancaster Bombers were not due to bullets, but to her stilettos.

“Although the probability of inspecting Lancaster aircraft wings in stilettos would have been very slim!”

Eva met her future husband, Don Holden, who was in active service with the RAF, during the early war years and they married during his brief Christmas leave in December 1944.

Following the end of war, Eva moved and settled into married life in Silverdale where she lived for the rest of her life.

Eva had a strong sense of community spirit and helped to run a club for local girls, which included her daughter, organising a programme of activities which incorporated picnics, plays and get togethers.

She also started on a new career path, in the role of House Mother at nearby Bleasdale House which at that time provided mostly residential care for physically disabled boys.

This was a physically demanding role but Eva amply demonstrated her devotion to the job.

One of the former pupils, Martyn Gardner, who was a young boy of five at the time, remembers the kindness shown to him by Eva. Martyn said: “As a small boy a long way from home, she went out of her way to help me settle in for the time that I was there – something I will never forget.”

Eva’s son, Dave, remembers the woodland walks arranged in her own time enlisting her children’s support for these.

Eva went on to train as a social worker at Preston Polytechnic, working in this capacity at Lancaster and Kendal and then at the charity Scope.

Following her retirement she worked as a Guardian Ad Litem, representing the interests of vulnerable minors in court.

She also completed a BA (Hons) with the Open University and in her spare time in the early 1990s became Chair of Heart Concern in Lancaster for a number of years, successfully organising some key fundraising events.

Eva’s son Dave said: “She had a very deep sense of justice and did anything she could to support the weak and vulnerable and help them to a better future.”

The funeral of 90-year-old former Parish Councillor, Eva Holden, of Silverdale, took place on Monday September 28.