Hilary: the life and soul of the party’

PUBLISHED: 13:30 21 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:42 10 June 2010

WHEN a friend of Budleigh Salterton s Hilary Rolls OBE, who died on August 3, was asked to list all the local charities and organisations she was involved in, the reply was: It s probably easier to list what she wasn t.

WHEN a friend of Budleigh Salterton's Hilary Rolls OBE, who died on August 3, was asked to list all the local charities and organisations she was involved in, the reply was: "It's probably easier to list what she wasn't."

That summed her up - almost immediately after moving to Moormead eight years ago with her twin sister Janice, younger by three hours and 10 minutes, Hilary Anne Rolls made sure she had her fingers firmly wedged in lots of pies.

She affected the lives of so many people; be it as editor of St Peter's Church magazine - the church where she was also deputy warden, or member of Budleigh Lions, part of the poppy appeal for five years, as membership secretary of both the Fairlynch Museum and the Film Society or as secretary to the St Peter's School Governors.

The moving tributes paid at her funeral last Friday at St Peters Church by a host of people, who turned out to give her a huge final send off, was a testament to this.

Born to June and Edwin Rolls, who both worked at Abbey National Building Society, on June 15, 1948, at Middlesex Hospital, Hilary lived variously with her family in West and North Harrow, before leaving school and at 17 landing an administration role in the Ministry of Defence.

This marked the beginning of her meteoric rise within the ministry over her 35-year career, which culminated in her becoming head of her department and being awarded the OBE in 2000.

It was while she was at the ministry she spent several years in Cyprus from 1971 to 1973 and met her friends of 40 years, Frank and Mandy Holmes.

Frank, who read a moving tribute at the service last Friday said: "She was a tremendous member of the community, she was involved in so many things - it's probably easier to list what she wasn't."

In 1992 she took a degree in Geography that Frank said was to 'prove a point' and, when she retired at the age of 52, she moved to Budleigh, where she found time to indulge in her many passions, of which there were many.

She was famous for her love, according to Frank, for 'useless gadgets' while she also played for the Feathers' Skittle Team, and took a keen interest in aeroplanes and cars including Aston Martins - she was a member of the Institute of Advanced Drivers.

A regular church-goer, Hilary regularly read lessons, not only in St Peter's Church, but annually at the Budleigh Salterton Baptist Church, while she could also be seen regularly on the golf course where she played with a handicap of 28.

"She upset a lot of men," joked Tony her step-brother. "She could drive as far as the men. But not always in the right direction!"

While Mandy added: "She was pretty good, she could have been an amazing golfer."

Tony's wife Sue said: "Budleigh welcomed her with open arms and when she died everyone rallied around.

"People were queuing up at the hospital to see her when she was ill."

Her sister Janice added: "She was such a caring member of the community. She had a great sense of humour and we looked after each other. She was life and soul of the party, she could talk to anyone, make people feel welcome and at ease."

Hilary Rolls OBE, died on Monday, August 3, age 61.

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