Family pays tribute to ‘one in a million’ Weenie

A ‘kind and generous’ late great-grandmother has been granted her final wish, and has been laid to rest with her parents in Littleham Churchyard.

The last wish of Audrey Edwina Beryl Freer, better known as ‘Weenie’, was to be reunited with her beloved parents, Ferdinand and Elizabeth Beckhart.

Her son David said: “She loved her parents and she was absolutely devastated when her dad died.

“She always wanted to be reunited with them, but she never thought it would be possible.

“We have made it possible.”


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Weenie died peacefully at Exmouth hospital aged 89, on April 23, surrounded by nine members of her huge family which includes five children, 17 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

David said: “She not only used to remember everybody’s birthday but also what time they were born. She had an amazing memory and we relied on her to remind us!”

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Born at home in Bishops Lydeard near Taunton, the family moved to France and they returned when she was aged just three.

“They shut their eyes and put a pin into a map, and ended up in Exmouth,” said David.

An only child, Weenie was as well known in Exmouth as her parents. Her father was twice chairman of the Exmouth Urban District Council, and among others things oversaw the planting of the magnolia trees in Manor Gardens, and alongside her mother ran three hotels on the Beacon from the 1960s.

These were the now closed Dolforgan Court Hotel on Louisa Terrace, which is now flats, and the Byron Hotel, now Byron Court.

They also ran The Manor Hotel which was sold by her mother in the late 1960s.

Weenie was educated at Exmouth Convent School, Borden Barn, which is now St Josephs’ Roman Catholic Primary school.

During World War Two Weenie served her country as a Wren and worked at what is now the Commando Training Centre, in Lympstone.

She married Walter Freer after they met at a dance and had three sons and two daughters, Roger, Nigel, David, Shirley and Jill.

Her daughter, Jill, said: “Her family meant everything to her. She was an only child and all she wanted was to have a big family.”

They separated in 1960 and living in Ferndale in Imperial Road and focused on bringing up her family and became famous for her generosity.

David said: “Two, three times a week residents dropped in to have a cup of tea and watch TV.

“She took people in and never turned anybody away. She loved company.”

Her dad died in 1967 and David said: “She was absolutely devastated by that; she was very close to her father.” Her mother later died in 1986.

Then, at the age of 63, Weenie began what she called her ‘second life’ when she met an old friend called Morrie and they stayed with each other until his death in 2001.

They would go ballroom dancing at The Pavilion up to three times a week, have picnics everyday and attended various fetes together.

David said: “She was never happier than when she was with her children and grandchildren.

“She would give, give and then give some more. She is missed by all her family and many, many friends.”

Jill said: “She was well known by many long-term shop owners because of her genuine warmth, most amazing wicked sense of humour and a smile that brightened everyone’s day.

I am happy knowing she has now been reunited with dad and mum.

“She was truly one in a million and she touched so many hearts.”

Weenie was laid to rest, with her parents, on May 4 at Littleham Churchyard following a private service.

A celebration of her life was held at The Manor Hotel where the Freer family began.

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