Memorial Meeting for Betty Cave

A Meeting for Worship in the manner of Friends to give thanks for the life of our Friend Betty Cave will be held on Tuesday 22nd December at 11.15am at West Suffolk Crematorium.  It will last for three quarters of an hour.

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Betty Cave (for Quaker Profiles)
Interview by Angela Howard

Betty (nee Howe Piper) was born in her parents’ home in Leytonstone during the First World War. She has a younger brother, Grahame. They are, she believes, seventh generation Quakers and she owns a Quaker bonnet which belonged to her great-grandmother.

Betty’s father came from a Cambridge Quaker family, having finished his apprenticeship in the pianoforte profession. Betty can remember that at one time there were two grand pianos in the sitting room awaiting sale. Her parents met at Wanstead Meeting when Betty’s father played the piano for her mother to sing. Her mother was born in Forest Gate and was a member of Wanstead Meeting all her life.

Betty went to a private primary school and then Leytonstone High School. She was mainly interested in domestic science and nature study. Grahame was the more out-going of the two and went to Ackworth, but Betty was happy to be at a day school. She was very keen on ballet and used to have classes until she was fifteen. The ballet has been a lifelong interest and after marriage Betty taught her husband, Alan, to love ballet too.

Betty went to a Domestic Science College and then had various jobs with families advising their cooks.

She met Alan Hill at a local tennis club when she was seventeen and he was twenty four and they married when she was twenty-one at Wanstead Meeting House. The couple set up home in Woodford and had just got their house as they wanted it when Alan was head hunted to work in Cambridge by the agri-chemical firm for which he worked, and for which his father had also worked. Betty was left, pregnant with their first child, to return to her parent’s home as it was so difficult to find accommodation during the war. She registered as a C.O. and did voluntary work cycling from Woodford to Stratford to help the Invalid Childrens’ Aid Association.

When eventually Betty was able to join Alan, their second home was a thatched cottage at Whittlesford with no modern conveniences! Eventually the firm built new houses and Betty and Alan thankfully moved in. By the time Betty was thirty she was an overseer of Cambridge Meeting and teaching in the childrens’ class. Betty’s eldest daughter, Janet, was born in 1942 and in 1947 Judith arrived to complete the family.

Later in his career Alan was moved to London and the family went to live at Radlett, Hertfordshire. They were members of Watford Meeting at this time – a very large meeting. Alan became Clerk and Betty was Clerk of Overseers.

Alan eventually became export manager for his firm and travelled extensively all over the world. In 1970 he took early retirement due to ill-health and he and Betty made the move to a smaller property out of London. This was when they came to Stambourne in Essex and began attending Bardfield Meeting where Betty was soon an overseer and Alan, Clerk.
Alan died in 1974. Sadly he didn’t live to see his first grandchild but he knew that a baby was expected.

In 1988 Betty married Reg Cave at Bardfield Meeting House. Reg and his wife Ruth had been long-standing friends of Betty and Alan before the deaths of Alan and Ruth. Reg had a bungalow in Cornwall and he and Betty spent many happy holidays there. Walking was a particular joy. Reg died in 2000. Though he belonged to the Church of England he also often attended Quaker Meeting at Bardfield.

Betty describes herself as a home maker rather than someone who wants to be out in the world. She has had many friends and is very family orientated, being at the heart of a close and growing family: her two daughters, five grandchildren, and, at the present count, five great grandchildren.

Betty says her deep faith comes naturally and she accepts Quakerism as a way of life. As a young person she visited other churches and chapels in a spirit of inquiry, and mixed with friends of other denominations, but it is Quakerism which constantly influences and sustains her. The arts: music, painting and theatre are also her great love and inspiration in life.