Celia Cook (“Kim” Kimmins) cont.
...........We will miss her enormously and this is clear when we look at just a few of the contributions she made to our newsletters in recent years. Here is a small sample:
This first one was about our school uniform, over the years:
“We wore uniform white shirts, cotton poplin in summer with a slightly heavier fabric for winter that was never quite white, more creamy colour. On weekdays we wore a gym-slip/tunic (dark navy). On Sundays and for any outings or exeats, we wore a navy suit, sometimes known as a costume! Buttoned jacket, with a row of three small buttons on each cuff, and straight skirt, with a box pleat on each side of the front, stitched to half-way down the thigh, so there was minimum possibility for skirts blowing up in the wind! In the summer juniors wore cotton check dresses with collars and short sleeves. Juniors wore short white socks in summer, and knee length fawn ones in winter, while seniors wore lisle stockings that had a tendency to wrinkle. We had to have a navy blue cardigan, as well as a navy blue blazer with a badge that involved house colours, as did the tie. This had a navy background, with diagonal stripes of gold and house colour in different widths. Winter velour hats and summer panamas had bands with the same colours, indicating house. *The colours were red for Elliott, yellow for St Hilary, and purple for Babington. Day girls had two houses, blue for Bristol and green for Chichester. Also (at a later date) Adelaide – orange. The scarf was a long knitted one in navy blue, with gold horizontal bands at each end, and a sparse woollen fringe. For gym we had white Aertex shirts and rather baggy navy blue knickers, worn over our standard white ones, while for outdoor sports we wore navy shorts. Some of the regulation shorts had two rows of 3 large visible buttons on the front, which allowed a central flap of fabric to fold down. This was because the waist wasn't elasticated, so it was necessary to open the waist band. Also obligatory were 2 pairs of black outdoor lace-up shoes, and 2 pairs of black slip-ons, known as house shoes, a long winter coat or a cloak. In 1956 nylons were allowed for the first time, thanks to HRH the Princess Royal, and we finally ditched those dreadful lisle stockings.”…and…“For leavers, there was, for a while, a tradition of throwing hats out of the train window as the train crossed the Thames just before Victoria station. It was seen as a final act of defiance after years of regimentation. In maybe '58 or '59, Connie learned of this and the practice was stamped on very firmly.”’
In thoughtful mood, Kim wrote, regarding the proposed dropping of our school Motto (Before Honor, Humility), that: . . . “the concept of humility has nothing whatever to do either with Uriah Heep or with doormats. Rather, humility is about recognising that God is greater than we are, and acknowledging our debt to Him for all that we have and all that we are. Assertiveness and ambition are both fine in that context. In fact, it is quite clear that God wants each of His children to achieve his or her full potential, and to use wisely the gifts and talents He has given. So I see no difficulty in retaining the motto in the light of the school’s aims to turn out young women who can have fulfilling roles both in the home and in their working lives. . . . What is important is that it has been a valuable guideline for staff and pupils for at least 95 years and, properly understood, still has relevance and validity today. There is an interesting passage in Miss Meades’ History of SMH, 1836-1956. This extract from an address made by Henry Venn Elliott on 1 August 1859 to the staff, pupils and friends suggests that our Founder would certainly have approved of the current motto. Have true unity. Humility and love are necessary to produce it. Pray for me. St Paul asks the prayers of his youngest converts, and I will ask yours. Pray for your Superintendent; pray for the Governesses. Remember that without the blessing of God on their teaching, it is labour in vain; you learn everything in vain if God is not with you, to bless both those who teach and those who learn.”
Kim also wrote about her Guiding memories from school and it was (firstly) as a Guide that her friend Sarah Mylne (Boyd) remembered her: “Celia and I were good friends at school and shared the same sense of humour and we both suffered at the hands of Connie's mean streak. We went to Girl Guide camps together, which we thoroughly enjoyed, with the lovely Kathleen Farmer as leader. Kim and her husband Roy came to stay with me when I lived on mainland Scotland, when Kim was doing research into her family. Roy and Kim were a great team, and devoted to their sons and their families, and were great supporters of their church. She never moaned about her persistent ill health, even though she experienced the good and regrettably the bad side of the NHS. Her long Christmas letters and emails were always upbeat. She had an astonishing ability to recall events and names from way back ref. SMH and had out of school tales about some of the staff, too! She and Roy had many friends who will miss her and my thoughts go to Roy and her sons and family.”
Her friends Anne Bell (“Teddy” Bearne) and Susanne Rae (Nicholls) met up with Kim in London a few years ago on one of Susanne’s visits from Australia where she lived.
Anne wrote: Oh how sad. I was in class with Kim (then Celia Kimmins). She was also in Babington House, with me and others.
On Saturday afternoons when we didn’t have a movie to watch we used to dance. Kim and I did a mean quick step together. Only wish my husband could do what we did!!
Twice on my return to visit family I met up with Kim, once in London along with Suzanne Rae another time she and her husband came to visit me at my father’s home in Wiltshire.
Actually on the evening before my 14th birthday we sat watching the sunset and I said ‘That’s the last time I’ll see the sun at 13! I often think of that evening as yet another birthday looms. Please pass on my condolences to Kim’s family.
Susanne also sent her condolences, remembering their youthful days sharing a dorm. in Babington House where Kim often suffered with her chest/asthma problems and that happy meeting in Parsons Green.
Heather Johnson (Heald) also wrote “ I remember her as Celia, although I know she preferred Kim. I was aware of all the work she did on the Committee. I have no specific memories as she would have been younger than me and she only came a year before I left - surprising really I remember her at all, she must have made an impression! I knew she had been unwell for a while but one just thinks people will keep going, not that their illness will eventually take them. She will be much missed.”
Melanie Heidler (Morrison), whose preceded Kim as Hon. Editor, was saddened to hear the news and sent her condolences to the family.
Shirley Read-Jahn whose sister Pam was in the same year as Kim remembers her as having ‘the same runny nose when we went to church’! Shirley had previously sent us a lovely photo of a group of girls taken in 2000, including one with Kim. We used it in our summer e-Newsletter in 2018.
Jean Ellis wrote that she was so sorry to hear about Kim's death. Kim came to Jean’s book launch at the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018. After everyone had gone, her son took a lovely photo of both of them, part of which is reproduced above.
Kim was a stalwart supporter of SMHA over the
years, serving as Hon Editor from 2000 to 2003
and remaining on the committee until the year
before the school closed. Her editorials during
that period are fascinating as commentaries on
the times as well as on the life of the school
and the Association but her final contribution,
in 2003, deserves to be reproduced in full since
it so perfectly sums up Kim, as we knew her.
Adam, Kim’s younger son, wrote of his mother:
She was a formidable woman, a wife, mum,
grandma (never nan !) and friend. She was
strong in her faith and stronger of mind, and
someone with whom you should only play
Trivial Pursuit with the assistance of a strong
team, whisky, or google - or preferably all three.
She would, I think, describe herself as a
journalist, researcher and genealogist, but in
her working life, which extended long beyond
retirement age, she was a Tupperware sales
manager, a journalist, editor & proof-reader,
a small business owner, an historian and
genealogist, and for some years, even a
Growing up, Kim's home was in Fulham,
and she and Roy met in 1962 aged 19 in the
Tooting Jazz club when he, true to his gentle
nature, picked up the scarf she'd dropped.
Engaged after 6 weeks, they bought their first
house, and got married, in 1964, with Jason
arriving in 1968, and Adam in 1972. The family
moved to Sutton in 1973, where they stayed
until 1981, when they moved to West Wickham
- the house that in many ways would be
considered the family home. Once Jason, then Adam had flown the nest, Kim & Roy moved to Tenterden in Kent, where they lived until 2014 when they moved back closer to London for Kim's medical care. Despite battling multiple cancers and seeing the inside of more hospitals, more frequently than some NHS staff, she was continually insistent that she did not want to be a burden.
Kim's interests were varied and eclectic to say the least, but her love of music, reading, Chelsea football club, Formula 1, nature and horticulture, historical research and family history were all underpinned by the same amazing quality - a continual thirst for knowledge and information. Aged 77, having taught herself to write with her other hand, she was still actively researching and with the aid of dictation or very slow typing, continued to respond to as many emails as she could and even in her last days we were amazed by her recall and attention to detail !
Her absence will be felt in so many ways by so many people, and to try and qualify those could never do her justice. Her friends from all walks of life have lost a confidante, support and an amazing source of knowledge. Her fellow churchgoers have lost a stalwart of faith and shining example of strength through difficulty. Most importantly, her husband of 56 years Roy, sons Jason (52) and Adam (49), and grandchildren Ethan (22), Lauren (17), and Amelie (12) have lost a wife, mother and grandmother and friend.