Muriel Eleanor Cuthbert

15 August 1925 – 6 March 2024 

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Muriel Cuthbert was an amazing woman. Not just because she lived for 98 years but because for most of them she had robust health, an active life and a mind of her own. Born in Coalville, Leicestershire in 1925, she grew up nearby in ‘the largest village in England’, Ibstock, where the Harratt family – Muriel, her elder sister Eileen and their parents – lived in High Street. Her father was the well-known head of the local junior school and church warden; her aunts Alma and Mabel were also teachers, so it was no surprise that Muriel also chose to train as a teacher. Soon after the end of World War II she began her career in Birmingham.


Muriel met Harry Cuthbert, known as H, in primary school and he was the love of her life. They married in 1949 and moved to Coventry, where Harry worked as an engineer in the car industry and Muriel worked at Coundon Primary School. She kept in close contact with both sides of the family and when her two sons Robert and Richard came along they spent many happy days visiting Ibstock, Leicester and Coalville. Once the boys were at school Muriel resumed her teaching career as head of the Coundon Nursery Class, where for many years she set out to give her hundreds of pupils a love of learning and a need to eat their fruit and green vegetables! Everyone remembered Mrs Cuthbert with fondness for her efforts. She also trained nursery teachers. When she moved from Coundon as one of the first residents in Rectory Close it was no surprise that years later her former nursery nurse June became her cleaner and one of her pupils Jonathan moved a few doors down the Close.


Muriel and Harry were both very active and for many years enjoyed playing badminton at Coundon School Hall (despite the ceiling being a little on the low side). They played as a family with Rob and Rich and with a wide circle of friends. Their love of racquet sports included tennis and they played for many years at the Standard Triumph Tennis Club. Muriel loved watching tennis of all kinds but followed Wimbledon with a passion and had a soft spot for Andy Murray.


Muriel and Harry were a very sociable couple with a large circle of friends. They enjoyed regular nights out wining and dining in each other’s homes. This gave Muriel a chance to display her culinary talents and her love of a glass or two of wine! The wine rack and fridge were always well stocked and both family and friends were always met with great hospitality. Muriel’s large family Easter meals are a family legend, she was the queen of jam tarts and family, friends and neighbours all enjoyed her lemon drizzle cake. She even had her recipe for Spanish Pork and Olives published in the Popeye the Sailor Dish Cookbook (only £12.99). Muriel continued to enjoy lunch outings with a group of close friends through her 80s, and celebrated her 90th birthday with a large family lunch and a party for all her friends at home.


When Harry took retirement in the early 1970s Muriel soon followed and a new phase of their lives began, Harry turning to finance and Muriel turning her attention to the Allesley Women’s Institute, becoming President. She regularly attended Village Hall events and performances with Harry and did voluntary work helping to serve lunches at the Stone House when she was in her eighties … for the Old People!




Muriel was talented and creative: she played the piano by ear and had a lovely singing voice. She was thrilled when Richard provided her with a piano, and passed some of her musical talent on to her grandsons. She was also brilliant at needlecraft, embroidering a huge picture framed on the dining room wall, and her knitting highlights include a knitted village for disabled children, hundreds of baby coats for the Walsgrave special care baby unit and countless sweaters for the family. Muriel was always stylish and rarely came to breakfast without hair done, make-up and perfume with a necklace to match her outfit.


Family was always important to Muriel: she stayed close to her sister Eileen, her children Anne, Michael and John, and to her cousin Judith. She embraced all of Harry’s family – Dot, Marj and Gwen and their children. Bert and Elaine, being relatively local, were like her own, and so were their children. If she enjoyed motherhood she adored being a granny and came into her own with Simon and Rufus, loving every moment with Richard, Julia and the family – Christmases, summer holidays … many happy times to recall. She loved watching the boys grow and followed their successes with great love and pride, especially in their creative achievements. Her first international flight was in her 80s, when she flew to New Zealand to visit Richard and Julia, accompanied en route by Simon. She was delighted when both boys took to the creative arts for their careers, and loved meeting Simon’s wife Matilda when they visited the UK and Rufus on his regular visits from London. When Joseph came along she found new vigour especially in playing the piano with him, but as she got older her life became more restricted. She enjoyed Joseph’s visits during school holidays and then on his way up and down from university. She followed his music, rugby and cricket career and was pleased but anxious when he decided to study medicine, telling him it took far too long – which it does!


Like many of her generation Muriel was a stoic. This was put to the test many times in  her long life, especially when Harry was seriously ill with cancer. She was always there to support him and it was fitting that he died at home with her beside him. After such a long and happy life together the family worried how she would cope. She lived alone for 15 years with the generous support of family, friends and neighbours, but thinking of Harry every day.


When Richard and Julia emigrated to New Zealand she missed them a great deal and even in her declining state if she went into hospital or had an appointment, her first words were always “Does Richard know?”. The visits home with the family and her introduction to Zoom technology helped at first, but this became more limited as her abilities failed her.


In her later years memory loss and then physical problems took their toll. Wonderful neighbours like Chris, Kay and Janet, along with Tina, were a major local support. Rob and Marie did the long distance dashes, often staying in Coventry to keep her going. Eventually home care and family were not enough and she moved to a residential home near to Rob and Marie. Sadly her health began to fail; she spent several weeks in hospital, confounding the medical staff by her rapid recovery only to fall ill again. Her final weeks were spent in a nursing home where the staff treated her with the kindness, dignity and respect she deserved. Even then they said “She lets us know exactly what she wants”; she never lost her feisty spirit.


Take a moment to remember her now, all the things she did and said: “full to the height of flipperty-flopperty”; “ten o’clock – it’s coffee time!”; “I must look in the fridge and see what’s for lunch”; “isn’t it lovely what we’re doing”; and “would you like a glass of wine?’. Harry and Mu together again, with Harry no doubt saying “What took you so long?”!


Muriel Cuthbert – a long and happy life well lived, it is now time for her to rest.


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