"It was a great shock to me when
my aunt Juliet Reeve died in August after her hip operation. The Braille Chess Association was an important
and enjoyable social activity for Juliet. She had been involved with BCA for 20 years,
so I wanted to write to you her friends.
As you may know Juliet did not want
a funeral, memorial or thanksgiving service. She was a very private and selfless person
who wanted no fuss. She
would like her friends to know that her ashes are buried under
the old yew tree in St Paul’s churchyard, Shurdington,
near Cheltenham. I am organising
a memorial stone with her name in Braille for her blind friends
Juliet first starting coming to Braille
Chess with her partner Peter ‘Dai’ Price. The chess weekends and coaching weeks were
highlights of the year for them both and I remember her talking
animatedly about the various locations they were held in including
Harrogate and Teignmouth. Juliet
was devastated when Peter died 8 years ago, after sharing 16 fun
years with him. She decided
to continue attending the BCA on her own because she found it
very comforting to be surrounded by people who knew and loved
Peter and it helped with her grieving process.
She really enjoyed the activities and socialising.
She often told me how welcoming and kind you all were towards
her. By attending on her own she came to know
several of the members a lot better and then helped organise the
evening ‘soirées’. She
loved organising events and in particular had a great interest
in poetry, prose, books and music.
This love of culture had started from a very young age
and continued throughout her life. She had a great thirst for knowledge, culture,
to learn new things and have new experiences, and share these
Juliet was a private lady with many
talents and I am sure most of you would be unaware of her many
accomplishments and work activities because she never sang her
own praises. She quietly
made a difference to many people’s lives.
Juliet’s first career was in education.
She received a bursary to stay on at school in Burton upon
Trent, and then went to Cheltenham to train as a teacher in ‘The
Park’. Her first teaching
job was in Oxford in 1960. She then moved to Birmingham and specialised
in children with special needs and learning difficulties (remedial
as it was known then), later becoming a school inspector. She emphasised the need for good school
libraries, and the importance of books and reading in schools
and at home. She obtained her Diploma in Special Needs
Education in 1965 and then her Master of Education from the University
of Birmingham in 1980. Juliet
loved living in the multi-cultural city of Birmingham and participating
in the changing cityscape and local politics.
She actively worked to improve attitudes and facilities
for disadvantaged children by raising awareness of racial issues
and learning disabilities. She
was active in ensuring that the West Midlands Police Booklet ‘Play
it Safe’ featured pictures of multi-racial children as well as
white. She implemented a screening programme for
all primary children in Birmingham to identify children with special
needs. She was on the selection committee
that appointed the first female headmistress in Birmingham to
an all boys school based on ability,
which caused a lot of controversy in the media. Juliet was a feminist and reached a senior
position in Birmingham City Council Education Department which
at that time was largely a man’s world.
This was challenging for her, but she loved a challenge
and to be able to prove herself. She
was an active worshipper at Birmingham Cathedral and was involved
with the Birmingham City Centre Churches Council.
Juliet was pleased to be offered redundancy
in 1988 after 30 years education service and saw it as her opportunity
to have a second more personally fulfilling career and to use
her talents for the greater good.
Her second career as charity worker for the blind and partially
sighted lasted 27 years and she was still actively working when
she died. She was juggling
a number of projects at once, still with great energy, passion,
enthusiasm and optimism, as well as having time to meet with many
friends. She perceived her greatest work achievements
- Director of the ‘Cathedrals through
Touch and Hearing Project’ organised by the University of Birmingham
which implemented Braille and audio guides and tactile models
for blind visitors into many cathedrals in the UK including
Gloucester. She also
significantly raised awareness about blind visitors and guiding
needs to cathedral volunteers and staff. 1988-1993
- Organising the ‘Images in Sound’ Concert
in Birmingham Cathedral. An evening of poetry, prose and organ music
by blind performers to raise money for the Birmingham Royal
Institution for the Blind. 1994
- Leisure Consultant for Birmingham
Royal Institute for the Blind - organising visits to concerts,
theatres, and outings for blind people living in Birmingham.
- On the Editorial team for the ‘Gloucester
Cathedral News’ for 17 years, writing, researching and commissioning
articles, and a member of the Association for Church Editors.
- Producing the ‘New Church Messenger’
Christian quarterly magazine on audiotape and Braille for the
St John’s Guild for 15 years. Each edition included a range of items to
interest, inspire, inform and amuse, including ‘From the papers’,
‘Through the Christian Year’, ‘Hymns and Psalms’, ‘Quotes and
Anecdotes’, Book and CD reviews, Companionship of Prayer and
the Church Calendar. 2000-2015
She once said in a letter “I have
experienced the joy of meeting, listening to and learning from
many remarkable people throughout the country who have visual
impairment. They have inspired me to work creatively
with them in a number of ways.
I feel privileged and will endeavour to continue to serve
in these ways to the best of my ability in a spirit of Christian
commitment.” Juliet had a strong and unwavering faith
and believed we should use our talents to the best of our abilities.
In addition Juliet worked with the
Gloucester Citizen Talking Newspaper; gave organisations, councils
and MP’s advice on visually impaired access and the needs of blind
and partially sighted people; and visited elderly blind people
in their homes. She was an avid letter writer and sent many
letters and appropriately chosen cards to friends, and also wrote
letters about issues that adversely affected blind people such
as riding bicycles on pavements, shared spaces, obstructions on
pavements, the small size of fonts on cooking instructions, and
rail travel for those with disabilities.
She never gave up on lobbying about these issues and voicing
her concerns. She had no intention of ever ‘retiring’
despite just having had her 77th birthday.
In her leisure time she loved to attend
BCA events, the Worcester College reunions (of which she was an
Honorary member), the Gloucester Literary Luncheon Club, the Friends
of the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, the Ledbury Poetry Festival
and always the Cheltenham Festival of Literature, which was the
highlight of her year. She loved to talk to others about poetry
and books, and encouraged reading and listening.
She was half way through a personal project to compile
and record Peter’s many poetry and prose readings onto CD’s for
Braille Chess members when she died.
Juliet had a strong commitment to
help others and was an extremely kind and caring person and very
good friend to many. She
was a very good listener and gave people encouragement in times
of need, combined with practical suggestions, often researching
information to help them. She loved to research new topics and would
send people newspaper clippings and printouts from the internet
on topics she knew were of interest to them.
She was a beacon of culture wanting to share her delight
in literary items, poetry, theatre and cathedrals with others. She always thought of others before herself
and tried to help and give to other people in any way she could.
Her greatest quality was her care for people.
We will all miss Juliet dearly in
so many ways. Juliet told
me that she thought grieving was a private process.
She wanted people to be creative in thinking of ways to
remember their loved ones and do it in their own ways, however
they thought appropriate. I
think she would have liked a chess tournament in her memory as
has been suggested.Letter from Rosemary
Holley to Braille Chess Association (BCA) Members, 16th December
Letter from Rosemary Holley to Braille
Chess Association (BCA) Members, 16th December 2015
Norman and Pauline Wragg: We
were both so shocked and saddened to hear the news about Juliet. She has been a part of the BCA for many
years, at first with Peter Price.
After Peter’s death we were all so pleased that Juliet
remained involved with us and she was a very welcome part of our
events and especially our soirées.
Joan Shorrock: I went to visit Juliet a few times in Cheltenham.
We had some lovely times driving around the Cotswolds and
sharing meals together. She also took me to see Alan Davey, which
was so good of her.
I remember once when we were in the
town, she got a cup of coffee and gave it to a young man who was
begging in the street. She
had a word with him and it was obvious she did this quite regularly.
Juliet was kind and caring to everyone
whatever their status and we shall miss her.
Muir: Helping others seemed
to be a pleasure for Juliet.
Mike Lowery: It’s hard to put into words how much Juliet
will be missed. She was
one of the first people I ever spoke to and she knew how to make
me smile. She took me under her wing and was an inspiration.
She knew how to bring the best out of people.
Stan and Jan Lovell: We have lost a very kind and helpful friend.
Our events will be the poorer without her.
Peter and Celia Gibbs: Juliet will be sadly missed because she
was so helpful at all BCA events.
Only a day or two before her death we received from her
a CD of poems that had been recorded by Peter Price. That is an indication of how thoughtful
she was. She was so looking
forward to coming to BCA events and being able to walk easily
once more. But it was not to be...