Wendy and Colin Vaughan have made many important contributions to village life in Chipstead for over fifty years. Wendy has been a guiding light in the creation and organisation of village events. She received an MBE for her support to a wide variety of charities. Colin was one of the founding members of Chipstead Rugby Club. He created the arboretum at Embers Shaw and has served on the Chipstead Preservation Society committee for ten years.
Wendy Vaughan MBE
I was born in 1942 in Ilfracombe, Devon and lived there for my first 2 years before moving up to Weybridge, Surrey. I was the youngest of three girls.
We had an unusual childhood due to our father working as a District Officer in the Colonial Service in Nigeria for quite a period; so therefore we only saw him once a year until I was 12 years old, and consequently we hardly knew him. My mother would divide her time between being with him or us. It was certainly very difficult for her.
Wendy (the youngest!) with her mother, two sisters and cousin at Mortoe in Devon in 1943
My mother had a period when she could not go out to Nigeria as she fell ill with malaria and was in St Peters’ Hospital in Chertsey for many weeks. My sisters were able to go in to see her but I had to wait outside and Mummy would talk to me through the window. It was difficult as we lived with other family members and spent time being boarders in St Maur’s Convent in Weybridge during term times as well as in the holidays when relatives could not look after us.
Wendy in the O Level examination year class photograph at St Maur’s Convent in Weybridge in 1957 with her class teacher, Sister Lelia. Wendy is in the middle row at the extreme left of the picture
My sisters were 6 and 4 years older and kept an eye on me but I learnt independence at an early age. At the age of five I developed whooping cough badly and needed to isolate for three weeks in a room on the top floor of the convent only seeing one nun who slept in my room. A few months later I had a rumbling appendix which ended up with the Reverend Mother taking me to the local hospital to be operated on. Whilst we were going in the taxi she gave me two beautiful Chinese dolls which I kept for many years. Reverend Mother then waited at the hospital until I was back on the ward after my operation. Due to the childrens’ wards being closed for decoration I was put in a women’s ward, me being the only child. I would sing and say poems to keep them happy.
We had a very happy life and just got on with it. Our house was always filled with family and friends and my parents always had open house for people. My mother would always make meals to serve a number of extras and she was a very good cook. My father retired in his forties which was difficult for him but he took well to being a travelling salesman and made the most of it. It was worrying times for my parents but they worked through it. We took in many different lodgers so we had a full house for most of the time which we were very used to.
As money was tight we did not get pocket money so I did paper rounds, babysitting and any jobs that needed to be done. I was waiting for the time when I could apply to be a children’s nurse at Great Ormond Street. I spent my schooling at the convent, left after my GCSE’s and then did a year at a secretarial school which my parents wanted me to do in case I did not succeed in nursing.
In January 1961 I started my training and loved my 3 years at Great Ormond Street. It is and always will be the leading children’s hospital in the world. Even after all these years I can remember a lot of the children who I nursed. I truly believe that children are better patients who accept and trust in their situation.
When I qualified as an RSCN I decided that I should go on to do my SRN so I went to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge for 2 years which I found rewarding and widened my experience in helping the adults who I cared for. With having trained at Great Ormond Street we were treated with real respect. After those 2 years in Cambridge with my training completed and the social world of the hospital and university I decided to go back to work in London and joined the Middlesex Hospital (which is no longer) as a staff nurse on a general medical ward which was challenging and interesting.
Wendy doing the rounds as a nurse at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge in 1966
It was a very social time of my life. A nursing friend asked me to go with her to a party which is where I first met Colin. We were in put in charge of getting baked potatoes out of an oven!. I thought no more of it at the time as I started to go out with the host of the party, until one evening in June when we ended up at a pub called ‘Sun in Splendor’. Colin just happened to be there with a friend and I recognised him at the bar. By September we were engaged and we married in the following February, 1968.
Colin and Wendy at their wedding at Weybridge in February 1968
Colin did not want me to continue nursing which for me was upsetting but I thought the best way forward was to fill my life with voluntary work which has been very rewarding. I was able to cope and look after our daughters, Katrina, Anna and Peta, as well as being able to support Colin with the demands he had with functions for his work as a Chartered Surveyor in a top firm.
We lived in Warlingham for the first 2 years and moved to Chipstead where Colin had lived with his parents for some years. Colin had joined the Chipstead Rugby Club where he had made many friends with many of them living in the village. We moved to Starrock Road in 1970 for 9 years and then moved to Uphill in How Lane where we lived for 41 happy years. I have always immersed myself with this wonderful community; so many good and long lasting friendships were made.
I seemed to get involved with different things. I helping with the sweet trolley once a week at the Children’s Hospital, Carshalton and for three summers running I took in children who needed a holiday which was a very interesting experience and certainly challenging. It was an experience for the girls but maybe I was looking at my childhood, always full of different things.
I joined the NSPCC committee which I am still involved with. As a child I was a junior member and did various jobs to collect money in my Blue Egg. In the 1980’s I, together with friends, organized a fund raising event in our garden and raised £11,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital of which we were all very proud. So when these events happened I seemed to get involved as groups of us felt Chipstead was such a special community and we all worked well together.
Some of my voluntary work was outside the village. I worked for Croydon Housing Agency finding accommodation for people in need which made one feel how lucky we lived without their struggles. For many a few years I chaired the PTA at Westdene School in Purley and after my children left the school I became a governor and ended up being voted in as Chairman which was very challenging with the situation I was put under.
In 1984 I was approached by a resident, John Selier who was a magistrate on the Croydon Bench, who asked if I would be interested in joining the Bench. In October 1984 I was sworn in and found it to be one of the most interesting and challenging times of my life. I was on the Bench for 23 years and served on the main courts, Youth, Family and Domestic before retiring in 2008. People used to say to me “you don’t need to go in if you are a volunteer”. I pointed out that one is just as committed as with a paid job. It gave me a real understanding of people who came up before one and a very good learning curve as well. My colleagues came from all walks of life and one learnt how much each colleague brought to the Bench.
The remaining time was enjoyed in Chipstead and involved organizing the official food stop at Chipstead Meads for the London - Brighton Bike Ride on behalf of the British Heart Foundation. This raises a large amount each year and is a wonderful effort by the locals; and, all being well, it will continue.
Wendy’s team flat out delivering burgers and sausage rolls at the official food stop at Chipstead Meads for the London - Brighton Bike Ride on behalf of the British Heart Foundation, in 2007
I am still involved with the NSPCC and have a Bridge Day twice a year; my committee serve coffee and then lunch in between. We also held lunches in the summer and occasional events after the Flower Show.
Many years ago in the eighties, Coulsdon Rotary Club asked us to help them with their Christmas Float which goes round streets in Coulsdon singing carols and collecting door to door, which we did until 2020. Each year we raised at least £500 for the Charity and we always seem to get willing volunteers to help with this.
In 2004 I started the “Big Coffee Morning” at the PA Hall for the MacMillan Cancer Support nurses when the village get together and raise large amounts each year. This event continues to be well supported.
Many events in the village were held to celebrate royal occasions and a group of us organized different activities with lunches and street parties, Royal tea parties achieved great support from residents who thoroughly enjoyed these events.
Wendy at the Queen’s Golden Jubilee party on Chipstead Meads in 2002. The party was a great success and she was given a bunch of flowers for all her hard work organising it.
The 2012 Olympics gave us the great challenge of organising different sports activities with all the different sports helping to run their challenges. On the final day we held different sporting challenges for the children. Despite the terrible wet day it was fun and seeing kids taking off their trainers and running through the mud was hilarious!
Wendy co-organised a very successful street party with Rosemary Selfe and Chris Bloom and many others at the White Hart pub in 2013 celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation
I have so many happy memories of a village which works together to keep the community alive. Most people who come to live in Chipstead for many years become involved with everything that goes on in all the clubs and societies and make good friendships. During the 2020/21 Coronavirus Lock-down Chipstead has certainly done its bit to think of others and show what a community they are. Let us hope that we keep to that.
In November 2009 I received a letter from the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, inviting me to receive an MBE from the Queen which totally surprised me. On 13th April 2010 I went to Windsor Castle to be given this award by the Queen which was a real honour. A very special day which will live with me for the rest of my life.
Wendy receiving her MBE from the Queen at Windsor Castle in April 2010. Wendy thought the Queen seemed so interested in her
Trevor Powles giving a speech congratulating Wendy on receiving her MBE at a dinner at the Sloane Club in London in 2010
The important thing in life is to make the most of every day and be interested in people and what is going on round one and never be afraid to take on different challenges in life whatever the age.
I was born in Stanmore, Middlesex on 22nd August 1936. By the time I was 18 the family had moved house eleven times as my father worked for the National Provincial Bank and each time he was promoted we moved. My sister Caroline and I therefore found it difficult to have lasting friendship.
Colin in his younger years at one of the family’s eleven houses
When I was 18 in 1954 my parents moved to Chipstead from Cardiff and my father moved to Head Office in London. In December of that year I started my two years of National Service in the R.A.F. In December 1956 I was discharged and joined a firm of surveyors as a trainee. I sat my first professional exam 3 months later and passed. I was on my way to becoming a Chartered Surveyor.
With various short interruptions I have lived in Chipstead ever since and my personal life really started in 1959. The Chipstead Rugby Club was formed and, knowing nothing of the game, I was invited to join the club. I was big. By then I was 6ft 5in tall and some 15 stone. We did not have leagues and the social side was excellent. After matches we usually visited pubs, and there were very frequent parties. Quite quickly I acquired social contacts which I had never had before. Beer in those days was 10 pints to the pound! I was also a member of the Chipstead XV, keen but not highly skilled.
Chipstead’s Rugby Club’s First XV in 1974/5 with Colin towering over the back row!
That formed the base from which I involved myself in Chipstead life. I also had a complex business life. I passed my final exam with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and in 1963 was made an equity partner in Debenham,Tewson & Chinnocks (DT&C) being one of the team of full partners.
Colin at his desk at DT&C in 1982
Although my training and experience was based on the British property market, I was fortunate to do some work abroad. In 1961 DT&C were instructed to advise the Government of Trinidad & Tobago who had gained internal self-government and used compulsory purchase powers without reference to the High Commissioner of the region. Needless to say problems arose. DT&C were instructed to use their professional skills to settle about eighty outstanding payments. The senior partner gave expert evidence at a High Court in Trinidad. In the light of that judgement I was sent to the island to settle outstanding claims. I succeeded in a large number of cases and on return I became a full equity partner at the age of 26. Whilst in Trinidad I played rugby and represented Trinidad on three occasions! We usually played in temperatures exceeding 30 deg C!
When I returned to England I lived back with my parents who were living in Latham House. I started to have a broader view of the village.
However, 1967 was a watershed year. I met Wendy and six months later we got married - for the better I hasten to say! Our first house was in Warlingham where we lived for 2 years. We then moved to Starrock Road, Chipstead and after10 years we moved to “Uphill” in How Lane where we lived happily for 41 years. In 2020 we downsized to “Norwood” in Walpole Avenue and are still happy to be in Chipstead.
Our three daughters enjoyed growing up in the village and made many friends who they still remain in contact with. They are all married and have given us great happiness with our five grandchildren. Katrina is a radiographer as well as a Pilates teacher. Anna is a Chartered Building Surveyor and Peta runs her Copy writing business in Singapore.
Colin and Wendy’s three daughters - Peta (left), Anna and Katrina
I have always been interested in wine and with Wendy’s encouragement I planted a vineyard in East Sussex which started to produce grapes. Unfortunately, with our busy lives it was difficult to continue but some friends asked us to get involved in planting a vineyard in Woodmansterne which still continues.
Colin after a heavy day at the vineyard!
I joined the CVPS in the 90’s which gave me a greater understanding of the surrounding area. I was on the committee for several years and took over as Chairman between 2008 and 2012. During that time there were many land issues to be solved to protect the area.
Colin’s party commemorating his retirement as chairman of the CVPS in 2012
My interest with the Embers Shaw arboretum was very different. Out of the blue I had heard that it was being offered for sale and might be attractive to speculative developers. Fifteen minutes later I decided to buy it with a view to protecting it and make it an attractive village amenity. Once the land bought I started to clear it and cut foot paths so that it became a pleasant walk. Having planted many trees it seemed to me to be for the best that it should become a community asset, so after five years I sold it to the CVPS. I took a loss but have obtained a great deal of satisfaction and the CVPS can hold and maintain it for the long term. Needless to say that I am very surprised to find it still called “Colin’s Field”!
Colin’s steadily maturing arboretum at Embers Shaw, the fruition of a lot of hard work!
A Tribute to Colin Vaughan
by Lionel Higginson, Vice-President of Chipstead Rugby Club (from the Parish Magazine-May 2010)
As Chipstead Rugby Club celebrates its 50th Anniversary it is timely to reflect on the involvement of the Club's President, Colin Vaughan. Colin played his first game of rugby for Chipstead in November 1959. He was in the 2nd XV playing against Park House 2nd XV and Chipstead lost 53-0! This was his first game of rugby since the 3rd form at school. After this heavy defeat, however, Colin was promoted to the 1st XV as, in his words, "They needed more bulk in the 2nd row".
He quickly became involved in all aspects of the Club but in the early 60's was off to work in the West Indies for his employer, Debenham, Tewson and Chinnock. Whilst in the Caribbean he continued to play rugby and actually became an "international" when he was picked to play for Trinidad on a tour of Jamaica. No cap was awarded but he has a tie to prove it.
Returning to England he picked up again with Chipstead where he became 1st XV Captain in the 1966/67 season and he continued playing until 1977. Over the years he has undertaken numerous roles within the Club, including Chairman before being elected President 28 years ago. Colin is still a very active President and the success and development of the Club since those early years is in no small part down to his commitment and contribution. It is believed that Colin is the longest serving President of a Rugby Club in Surrey, if not the whole of the UK.
Editor: Barry Pepper