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SPOTLIGHT ON

I found the subject of this month's Spotlight in the Congregational Church, although her life and interests stretch far beyond the Chuich itself.
Ruth Furniss is one of a family of eight, of whom there are now only three surviving sisters, all three of whom are well known in Barton. She and her sisters derive their public spirit from their mother.
Apart from a short time spent with an aunt in Liverpool during the first World War, Ruth has always lived in Barton. Her first voluntary work began in this war, when she used to knit socks, and collect eggs for wounded soldiers.
Ruth's original ambition was to be a nurse, but due to rheumatic fever in early life, this 'door' was unfortunately closed to her. However, many people will remember her as the late Mr. Cooper's dental nurse.
Although she never became a nurse professionally, this did not deter her from taking an active interest in nursing. For fourteen years she was responsible for the cadet force of the local St. John's Ambulance Brigade, with an initial group of twenty, which had increased to well over forty at the time of her retirement owing to ill health. It is a tribute to Ruth that many of these cadets later took up nursing as their career. There are, no doubt, many of our readers who will be able to recognise themselves in our photograph. Most of us will recognise Dr. Ethel Kirk in the centre, with Miss Furniss on her left, and Mrs Brameld on her right. This, I might add, was one of many photographs of the St. John's Ambulance Brigade, which Ruth was sorting through when I visited her. In connection with the Brigade in 1942, Ruth began a Savings Group, which she still continues today, although it is now known as the Butts Road Group. In the first six months of this year she collected 236.
Ruth also takes an active part in the Townswomens Guild of which she is the Vice-Chairman; the Council of Churches, and the British and Foreign Bible Society, but the organisation for which she is most well known, together with her two sisters Ann and Agnes, is the British Empire Cancer Campaign. All three sisters have worked tirelessly for the Campaign for over twenty years, sending in over 100 every year. This year has been an exceptionally successful one and they have already sent 285. Row do they do it? Well, there are many children in Barton, indeed all over the World, who could answer that question. They spend many evenings knitting, crochetting and making toys to sell for the Campaign. From among her photographs and other momentoes, Ruth proudly



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showed me a card inscribed to the Misses Furniss "in recognition of their untiring efforts on behalf of the campaign".
Ruth and her sisters have now been retired several years. There are many people who view the prospect of retirement somewhat apprehensively, wondering whatever they are going to do with all their free time. This is certainly not so at 100, Butts Road. When visitors call, if they are not surrounded by knitting and soft toys, they are greeted at the front door by the smell of Ruth's baking, not to mention being led away to the garden. In fact, retirement for Ruth seems to involve being a 'Jack-of-all-trades'.
If all these activities make some of our younger readers yawn and feel tired, may I just add that Ruth is only 78 years young!

 

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