Remembering Shirley Merry 1936-2022

Shirley Merry was a much loved member of St Mary’s. She told me that she first came to St Mary’s after meeting Kevin Bradley by a bus stop, and he invited her along. She went onto become a very active member of the church and she fiercely protected the space for over 20 years.
When I first met Shirley she was firmly in charge of the running of the church and woe betide anyone who interfered with her order of things! Teas and coffee (very precious to the St Mary’s crowd) simply would not have happened. She kept an eye on everything and everyone. She was well known for her tough love but extreme generosity. Shirley insisted upon buying everyone a cake to be shared when it was their birthday. She loved giving gifts and cards to everyone as well.
Shirley taught me everything I know about looking after church, even before I became Churchwarden. She was deeply encouraging but didn’t think twice to tell me off loudly if I got something wrong. However Shirl had a fantastic sense of humour and we would often laugh hysterically together. I remember St Mary’s had a Christmas Eve service about 6 years ago. We planned to meet at the church together to get everything ready. I arrived at church to open it up. The church was in darkness so I thought Madam Shirl was late. Suddenly out of the darkness a voice said, “what time do you call this!?” I almost passed out. She was comfortably sitting in the back of the Church with no lights on. She laughed endlessly about this. I asked her about that later on and she revealed that she loved the church so much and it was a place where she could sit in darkness and remember her children. No one knew she used to just let herself into the church at night and sit there in the Chapel. Sorry Shirl your secret is out.
Gayle Farrell Perry