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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Memories



The words of the song ‘Hello Dolly’ must surely be true of our very own Dolly – Mrs. Mary Lightowler who celebrated her 95th birthday on December 3rd 1980. Here in brief is a ‘This is Your Life’ in verse written by her daughter Mrs. Joyce Bell.

Dolly and Queenie at Hill Top Knottingley

Dolly and 'Queenie' photographed at Hill Top
Photograph submitted by Mrs. Joyce Bell

On the 3rd December, 1885 to Mary and George Jackson a daughter was born
The fourth girl in a family of seven, she was so petite and slight of form
Brother’s were named Percy, William and Ben, sisters Annie, Amelia and Jane
They all gathered around this wondrous babe, and puzzled over her name
The little one shall be named after her mother, papa declared Mary, she will be
But because she is so small of frame, to her family she’ll be known as Dolly
The family then lived in the Old Inn at Marsh End, known as the ‘Cherry Tree’
Then at the age of six into Dolly’s life came sorrow, tears and tragedy
The lovely young mother of the family of seven, at the early age of forty-two
Departed this life, leaving emptiness, in the hearts of husband and children too
Poor little Dolly had to be fostered out to an elderly uncle and aunt
To the faraway village of Peakirk, for the child ‘twas a foreign land
The life was hard, no love she found, and she longed for her sisters and brothers
So brother Percy fetched her home, to a tearful reunion with Papa and the others
Now elder sister Annie took charge of the family, at present in the grocery trade
And little Dolly was growing up, into a becoming and pretty young maid
The years went by and one by one, the family married and started homes of their own
By now into the state of womanhood, ‘Little Dolly’ had blossomed and grown
Dark of hair and eyes, attractive and appealing, both in form and face
A pleasant personality, in conversation interesting, a lady of charm and grace
In days long past Christ Church was the centre of Knottingley’s social whirl
And Dolly’s talents were in great demand as comedian, singer and principal girl
Young suitors she had many, but to her Papa she remained loyal and true
Many a poor swain’s heart was broken, when she said "no!" instead of "I do"
Until at the age of thirty-six, into her life a handsome young soldier came
Literally sweeping her off her feet, George William Lightowler was his name
The stories he recalled of his army days will never be surpassed
A lover of horses and his fellow men, a sergeant major to the last
Within a year a son was born, then two years later not one but three!!
Those dear departed triplets, two boys and a girl, and in June 1927 came me
The followed many hard years of toil, when spirits were sometimes broken
But throughout all these tribulations never a harsh word was ever spoken
Dolly worked hard for the shop, baking buns and breadcakes by the score
Also taking in lodgers, no-one was turned away from her ever open door
Now the year is 1939 and the second World War, when everyone gave their all
And Dolly was eager in every way to answer the nations call
Into the W.V.S. she enrolled, there were balaclava’s and socks to knit
Evacuee’s came and went, soldiers billeted and their wives all doing their bit
The Royal Navy claimed her only son, there for five long years he would remain
So like all mothers Dolly prayed, that he and others would come safely home again
1945 the war was at an end, servicemen and women began returning home
Dolly was amazed to see that her boy, into a man had grown
Slowly the fun returned to our lives, people started to live once more
And to be entertained by Dolly and Miriam, had been well worth waiting for
Dolly and Miriam Branford were invited to Barney Coleman’s ‘Good Old Days’
Then followed Town Hall concerts, choral singing and Parish Plays
Coronation year 1953 and another milestone in Dolly’s life
When a fine athletic young fellow asks Joyce to become his wife
Time goes by and on August 6, 1957 to Dolly and George’s great joy
Joyce is safely delivered of a handsome baby boy
Now into a man this babe has grown, serving his country loyal and true
And no-one is more proud than Dolly of her grandson in airforce blue
1958 and husband George departs this life, a fighting man to the last
A renowned character in his own right, now all that’s in the past
On Dolly’s 80th birthday a party was held for family and friends
Likewise on her 90th, cards, flowers and greetings came without end
Now we have celebrated her 95th birthday and together we’ll all recall
The many happy hours we’ve spent in the company of 
the most beloved Dolly of them all.

Joyce Bell

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