I’m so sad to report that my wonderful Godmother, Marion Booth, sadly died today. Marion was absolutely one of a kind, she had a massive impact on me growing up, as godmother and Guide Leader. Marion taught me to swim. She came to lots of my school assemblies, always telling me I did brilliantly (even when I didn’t) and was a great cheerleader of me all through my childhood. I can remember one occasion when she comforted me when I was around 12 as I had become terrified of doing a reading in church – look where I am now!
One of the most important things Marion taught me when I was in the Guides was ‘there is no such word as can’t’ – she just wouldn’t accept the phrase ‘I can’t do it’ and had this incredible ability to push reluctant teenagers to try new things.
Marion was massively committed to working with children and young people. She ran my playschool when I was a toddler. Through my childhood and into adulthood she ran a yearly holiday club at All Saints in the Summer Holidays, providing affordable activities to all the kids in the local area (and a great break from the kids for cash strapped parents in the 6 week holidays). In addition to this Marion faithfully ran 13th Southend Guides and set up our Ranger Unit of which I was a founder member. I learnt such a lot about leadership from Marion in the Guides and I learnt from her how to lead campfire songs. I remember in 2002 when I was helping with Guides in Dewsbury that we did a challenge to learn 50 campfire songs for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. I thought I would have to look some up but I sat down and realised that I already knew more than 50 campfire songs! Those years of singing round campfires all around the country had left an indelible mark!
Many who knew Marion through Guides or Holiday Club would know the response to Jelly on a Plate, Jelly on a Plate, Wibble Wobble, Wibble Wobble, Jelly on a Plate! Marion would arrange these crazy shouting matches between kids. It was actually a wonderful therapy when I look back, us getting all our pent up energy as teenagers out of our systems by screaming our hearts out!
Marion also led our church choir for many years – always being more enthusiastic about getting everyone involved rather than whether they could sing or not. In Marion’s eyes, everyone could take part, and that was wonderfully affirming to all of us when we were young and underconfident. We did sometimes slightly overdo the song ‘Shalom my Friend’, however (All Saints parishioners will remember!)
These days, in my work as a priest, I regularly talk about Marion. One of the questions we ask families who bring children for baptism is ‘who has influenced you most in your life’. And I often say one of the most influential people in my early life was Marion, my godmother, and I encourage them to think, perhaps the children coming for baptism will be able to say the same thing when they’re 44 like me! Marion was the best Godmother anyone could ask for and I will miss her so much.
One of our favourite campfire songs we would always sing at the end of a camping trip was this one, which I sing in this recording here but here are the words as well:
I’d like to linger, a little longer, a little longer here with you
It’s such a perfect night, it doesn’t seem quite right, that this should be our last with you
And come December, I will remember, those campfire days so good and true
And as the years go by, I’ll think of you and sigh, that it’s good night and not goodbye
Rest in Peace Marion