As Pauline and Sarah returned to the Langfield home in Bath Road on a warm sunny day in Sept 1959, the doctor, with his black bag, was getting into his car. “I’ve brought you a little baby sister”, he said. Pauline (5) assumed he meant Mary Rose been arrived in that bag.
The Times described her at her debut recital at the Purcell Room as “a strikingly individual dramatic mezzo”. After two years in the chorus of the ENO, she became a principal singer with the Cologne Opera House, performing in opera houses in Germany, the Netherlands – and in London’s Holland Park. In 1993 she began teaching. Several of her young ‘private’ pupils have gone on to sing in West End productions.
Brought up in the Christian Faith, by her late teens she with her sisters ran a Sunday School at St Paul’s Hounslow. She then moved to Holy Trinity, and finally to St John’s.
She brought ‘heart’ to the Langfield family, treating her niece and nephews as well as any mother could. Others she helped she described as ‘my very dear friend’, of which there seemed many. In hospital many times in recent years, she would always make friends, often staying in contact afterwards. She was not naturally an optimist but she said “I choose to be happy”.
She fought her illness with bravery; she showed kindness and generosity to so many; she took joy in living; and she shared friendship, support, humour, love and wisdom with us. She leaves behind her loving niece and nephews, her sisters, her partner Alan, many friends and of course, her cocker spaniel, Rupert.
Strong singing in a church setting inspires others to worship. As we (choose to) join in, it’s as though we are testing out for ourselves what it is to believe – taking faith beyond mere words. But a voice like Mary Rose’s does more, as it can touch something deep inside with a real taste of God’s love or hope or peace; His grace. Her prayer was that she could sing, right to the end.