Memories of Mona: Diggle mourns centenarian

A ‘SOFT-hearted, kind and generous person’ are words to describe a former Saddleworth resident who has died less than two months before her 101st birthday.

Mona Jefferson’s passing on July 3 was particularly felt in Diggle where she was born on Sam Road on August 27, 1918.

The village was her home until 2011 when she moved to live with family in Leyland.

A porter at Diggle station during World War Two, Mona, who previously worked at Warth Mill, was best known by residents running the grocery shop on Huddersfield Road with husband Bob Jefferson until their retirement in 1981.

Mona was the only daughter of Walter and Harriett Cox, attended Kilngreen and Uppermill Council Schools.

She married fellow Diggler Bob on December 21, 1940 and always told people, “It was the night they bombed Manchester”.

Mona loved the camaraderie of working as a porter, didn’t relish walking into the tunnel end with a lantern to signal the train drivers but did pick up her enthusiasm for smoking.

Indeed, she took great delight trying to persuade her three grandsons and lately her great grandson to ‘come outside for a smoke with grandma!’

Running the local shop meant Mona knew almost all the villagers. With a Biro tucked behind her ear, Mona could add up columns of figures in a thrice.

She even learned to drive Bob’s van but never ventured much beyond Sam Road and never if the bus was turning round.

During her retirement, Mona would regularly invite many of her former customers to enjoy a chat and a cup of tea.

Bob affectionately dubbed these get togethers, ‘geriatrics jamboree.’

A keen and accomplished pianist, Mona played at Sunday School and annual pantomimes. She was also a regular member of the group of ladies who supplemented Saddleworth Male Voice Choir at their annual performance of Handel’s Messiah.

Like most women of her generation, Mona was accomplished at knitting, crochet and sewing. Her daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren were all kitted out with beautiful baby cardigans.

Mona’s 100th birthday was certainly a joyful occasion for family and friends at second daughter Olwen’s Leyland home.

She is survived by Olwen and Anne. Sadly, her eldest daughter, Margaret, died in 2015. She also leaves behind six grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

Mona’s funeral service took place on Tuesday, July 16 at St Chad’s Church, Uppermill officiated by the Reverend John Rosedale.

A family member said: “Those who were not fortunate to know Mona well may have had the mistaken impression she was quite a stoic person, able to handle all that life threw at her.

“But this was just a front, probably gained as a result of spending almost all her working life serving the public.

“She was actually a soft hearted, kind and generous person, happy and content with her role as the matriarch of her ever-increasing family of which she was extremely proud.

“She has been an ever-present in the lives of so many of us and those lives will never be the same again.”

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