Sybil Esther Coady

Sybil Esther Coady was born in York on 25 july 1926 to Laura Patrick and Bernard Aloysius Bateman Sybil’s brother, Bennie, was born in York too, in 1928. Her father was a professional army man serving in the ordinance department. He met Laura when they both worked for the army and were on active duty in France during the First War.

The first home Sybil remembers was in Chelmarsh near Bridgenorth.

The Bateman family had moved to Didcot, in berkshire in 1935, and Sybil was sent to Our Lady Convent in Abingdon where Sybil remembered being very happy.

The family then returned to Billingsley, near Bridgnorth where Sybil was issued with a gas mask at the outbreak of war.

Next the Batemans moved to Eccles in Manchester where Sybil attended the FCJ (Faithful Companions of Jesus) convent school.

During that time she recounted lost sleep caused by air raid alarms, and a record player playing Bach in an air raid shelter. She always loved classical music, especially Bach.

When she was 18 Sybil went to the University of Manchester where she studied 18th century history under the tutelage of Sir Lewis Bernstein Namier and Baron Bellof for 3 years.There were few women attending university in those days, but she recalls her father supporting her desire to continue her studies. He was ahead of his time!

It was at Manchester that she met the mathematician R.F.Churchhouse who would become part of the Bletchley team that broke the enigma, and the man she would later marry, Anthony Coady, who was the MC at freshers ball for Catholic Soc. She was charmed by his witty introductions. She continued to see him at the Record Society where young people enjoyed the new tech of the day playing music on gramophone records.

After graduation Sybil went for teacher training for 1 year at Sedwick park college.

Doing their national service Tony met Richard Michael working at Cliveden house Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital.

Tony was then posted to Iraq, Middlesbrough, St Pancras, and Royal Northern Hospital.

In 1953 Sybil was teaching at the British Army School in Klagenfurt, Austria. It was here, that Sybil and Tony married in the church of Maria Wörth, by the side of the Wörthersee lake. (6/4/1953)

Tony and Sybil returned to London, renting a flat in Muswell Hill. she was able to continue her historical research, research into 18c diaries at the British Museum until the birth of Robin and Clare.

Tony then found his specialist skills in tropical diseases was needed by Oil Companies around the world, and a period of expat life began in 1959 with a move Iran where Chantal was born.

After returning to the house at 111 London road that they had bought before moving to Iran but not yet lived in, Tony then went to work for Shell oil in Seria, Brunei on the island of Borneo where Ros was born.

After a short spell back in London the family moved to Ethiopia, where Tony worked in the Princess Tsehai Memorial Hospital in Addis Ababa where Tom was born.

The family was based in London from 1962 until 1968 when we moved to Kuwait. There Tony worked in the Kuwait Oil Company Hospital in Ahmadi.

Tony then worked for the Medical research council in the Gambia where he died in 1975. Sybil then became the family matriarch and rock of stability. She joined the Civil Service and her hard work kept the family solvent in the years following Tony’s death.

A big influence was Jean Jenkins who Sybil met in the late 60s. Jean was a renowned musicologist working in the Horniman museum opposite our house in Forest Hill, London. It was Jean who introduced Sybil to St Michel l’Observatoire, the lovely village in Haute Provence, where Sybil bought a barn, and her old Architect friends Peter and Margret Whyman designed the conversion to a holiday home. She and many friends would holiday here over the years. After her retirement she would spent half her time here.

When Sybil was 80 she decided to sell the London house and move to Brighton, where she bought a flat on the 22nd floor of Sussex heights, from where you could see the Isle of Wight on a clear day. My brother Tom’s flat was in the same building, and he was able to provide Sybil with support for computers and technology. Sybil kept fit walking and swimming and lived fully independently until she was over 90. At this time my brother Tom took on the job of caring for her, cooking lunch for her every day.

Until five weeks before she died Sybil was playing, and often winning games table tennis, but then she stopped eating, and was admitted to Haywards Heath hospital where they diagnosed pancreatic cancer. The family decided that she should return to her flat, and end her life in her own space, looked after by carers and family members.

Sybil is survived by 5 children and 6 grandchildren and will live on in the memories of the many people fortunate enough to have known her.