Harrogate tennis player's ashes scattered beside court

A devoted Dales family have paid their respects to their much-missed mother by scattering her ashes at the side of the tennis court where she loved to play.

Paying tribute to the late Mary Brown at Birstwith Tennis Club - Back, from left - grandson Stuart Walker and son Peter Brown. Front, from left - daughter Rachel Walker, chairman of Birstwith Tennis Club Sir James Aykroyd and son Harvey Brown.

Mary Brown, a former Harrogate midwife, was a regular at Birstwith Tennis Club for nearly six decades during a life spent mostly in the villages of the Dales after training in Bradford and Edinburgh.In fact, popular community stalwart Mary was born six years before the outbreak of the Second World War in the shadow of the very same tennis courts in Birstwith.To mark her passing aged 84, members of her family and Birstwith Tennis Club organsised a special afternoon at the club recently.Friends and family shared their memories of her on a bench installed by the tennis club in honour of Mary and her late husband Arnold.Then her daughter Rachel Walker scattered her ashes.Rachel, 57, said: “It felt fitting to spread some ashes at the side of the court. It was a place she loved to be and close to where she was born. “My mother was loved and admired by everyone. Her friends said she never had a bad word to say aboyut anyone. She will be remembered with love and affection.”Mary did much over the years to not only to support Birstwith Tennis Club but also Hampsthwaite Methodist Church and community events such as Hampsthwaite Feast and community organisations like the U3A.Mary’s maiden name was Lister, part of that very old Nidderdale family whose lineage stretches into the present in Lister Haigh Estate Agents.Born at Ashleigh next to the Birstwith tennis courts in 1933 , she moved to Clint Banks when she was three. Her cousins of a similar age lived at Clint Hall and they were all friends, having sleepovers at each other’s houses and going to school together.Mary did her nurse training at Bradford Royal Infirmary after which she worked at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to study midwifery. She returned to Harrogate as a midwife at Carlton Lodge. After meeting Arnold. she was married and they had four children Rosie, Rachel, Harvey and Peter. and seven grandchildren. An avid player of games including chess and bridge, both Mary and Arnold played tennis well into their 70s.When she became unwell last year, she was very matter of fact about it and told everyone not to be sad.

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A fitting tribute - Mary Brown, the much-missed former Harrogate midwife and Birstwith Tennis Club stalwart whose ashes were scattered at the club.