Christine was a founder member of Friends of New Ash Green Centre and was very much involved with our attempts to promote the centre and its traders.
Despite the advancing problems of Alzheimers which caused her many short term memory problems she had a remarkable long term memory for people and events.
She was extraordinarily helpful in setting up the initial stages of the Friends of the Centre and provided us with much of the background information about the history of the centre without which we would have found it almost impossible to operate.
We publish below Brian Gates's note which was distributed at the funeral.
This really says it all, from someone who had known and loved her for many years
We will miss her very much as will many others from NAG both here and now overseas.
When NAG's social events seem like slowing down, often is heard:
"What we need is another Christine Gates"
Christine in Direct Action Mode! Helping Friends of the Centre do someone else's job.
CHRISTINE ELIZABETH GATES
1949 – 2011
Born Christine Elizabeth Ferris on 3 August 1949, Christine grew up with her younger brother, Graham, in Catford, South East London. It was here that she first met Brian at a dance on 27 March 1964 when she was only 14 year old. Six years later, on 28 March 1970, they were married and moved straight into their brand new Span House at New Ash Green.
Christine soon became an active and leading member of the local community, and for some 30 years was either a member, secretary or chairman of the Village Social Committee. During this time, she organised literally hundreds of social and cultural events, including Village Week and the traditional fete on Village Day, discos, pop and classical concerts, walks, talks, quizzes, the annual Buckets and Spades trip to Broadstairs, Firework Night and much more. In the early years the Social Committee raised sufficient funds to finance, with other grant assistance, the construction of a Youth Centre which bears her name on the foundation stone she unveiled in 1979.
Quite separate from this, she also ran for many years the Annual Summer Scheme which provided children of the village with sporting and creative activities during the long summer holidays. Associated with this, Christine was for a number of years a Committee member of the South East Regional Play Association and was the editor of its newsletter.
Although not a trustee, she was instrumental with others in setting up the Village Trust which distributes funds raised by the Social Committee and other organisations.
Although Christine left school at 16, she successfully studied at evening classes for her A levels whilst working as a Geography Technician at Goldsmiths College, London. She left Goldsmiths in 1974 and joined the London Borough of Bexley as a graphics officer in the Planning Department. In 1977 she left work and set up her own freelance graphic design practice which operated successfully throughout much of the 80s and 90's.
In 1986 Christine was so dismayed at the potential closure of the village Bookshop that she drew together a group of other like-minded individuals and set up the consortium which eventually purchased the Bookshop and has continued to run it on a co-operative basis for the past 25 years. From this time on the Bookshop became the main thing in her life and she spent many hours both in the shop and at home working on Bookshop matters. As her health and capabilities deteriorated the people at the Bookshop effectively became her day-time carers until such time as this became impossible. This is something that her family is eternally grateful for.
Christine was not only involved in social activities; she was also concerned about the environment of the village. In the early years, she was an active member of the original Foresters Group which augmented the planting and woodland management of the village. She was subsequently a member of her local Neighbourhood Landscape Advisory Committee and more recently an active member of the Orchard Group until it became too dangerous for her to participate. She was also an active member of the Friends of New Ash Green Village Centre group.
Christine played squash, went to Yoga classes and Circle Dancing. And somehow, with all these other things going on, she managed to have, and bring up, two children who are both as artistically talented as she was.
She always enjoyed travelling and visiting places of interest. She was a good cook and had a sophisticated appreciation of art, even going to evening classes to learn about the Impressionists. She loved acquiring nice things such as ceramics, wooden bowls and jewellery. She was always well dressed and loved buying well-designed clothes, shoes and bags. She was a collector, some may say a hoarder, of such things and, as those in the Bookshop can testify, she never threw anything away, just in case it might be useful one day.
It was perhaps ten years ago that those close to her first noticed the beginnings of the disease of Alzheimer's that eventually ended her life. Her progressive deterioration was slow to start with, but accelerated in the last two years. With the aid of professional carers Brian managed to look after her at home until last September when things became so unmanageable that she had to go into a Nursing Home. In the Home she soon became completely bedridden and the rate of deterioration got worse. She was admitted to hospital on 19 March and died peacefully on 3 April which was Mothers' Day. It is particularly poignant that she died only four months after her 92 year old father whom she loved dearly. Fortunately, she never knew that he had died and he never knew that she was so ill.
Christine loved socialising and organising. She knew so many people in the village and they all knew her. Everyone liked Christine, though some may have hidden when she approached them to help in yet another project. Although her obstinacy was sometimes frustrating, she was always admired for her tenacity and ambition and for her achievements. She is a great loss to the village of New Ash Green but most of all she is the loss of a loving mother to Emma and Benjamin and wife to Brian.
She will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.
New Ash Green will not be the same without her.