Kate was a friend, sister, daughter, wife, aunt and much more, to so many people. The KFF’s ethos is to create smiling faces, choosing carefully causes that we believe Kate herself would have supported. Here is her story.
Katharine Florence Mary was born in Bristol, the third of Annette and Michael’s four children, and grew up in the Northamptonshire village of Barton Seagrave. It was a happy childhood: with sister Lizzie and brothers David and Nick (who taught her everything she needed to know about football and cricket), the family lived in the large rectory adjacent to St Botolph’s Church where her father was the Rector.
Kate went to Kettering High School for Girls and then, after the family moved to Cambridge in 1978, did her A levels at Long Road Sixth Form and thence to Manchester University. Thinking herself “not bright enough” to be a doctor, she planned to be a nurse but was persuaded to do otherwise by those who had spotted her talent and marveled at her personality. She followed their advice, went to medical school and never looked back.
Her time in Manchester was not entirely dedicated to studying. Kate’s ability to combine work with play – and beer with curry – became legendary: she would be the one still dancing at the party long after most had retired. Not only was she dedicated and determined, kind and generous, this lady had an infectious sense of fun.
Having qualifed as a doctor, Kate spent four years gaining experience in hospitals in the North West and back in Cambridgeshire. At the age of 31 she moved further afield, taking a post at Westmead Hospital in Sydney. Kate soon became established and respected, made friends, settled quickly into the Australian way of life and would have been sorely tempted to stay were it not for the distance between the family and her. After two years Down Under, with mixed feelings, she returned home. The plan once back in UK was to become a GP, which she did for a short spell in Sawston near Cambridge, but she missed the involvement and commitment of hospital work. Dedicating herself to hospital paediatrics, she moved to Brighton and then London, and in 2001 was appointed as a neonatal consultant at St George’s, Tooting.
The role in south London entailed moving home from Lewisham (which she preferred to think of as Blackheath!) to the edge of Wimbledon Common. This was an exciting step forward, particularly with the attraction of the tennis, but a difficult location from which to visit her new boyfriend, David Jenkins, who lived in St Albans. Undeterred, Kate nurtured this relationship as she did with all her friends (of which there were many) and the two spent most weekends together and more besides. In David she had found a soul mate with a shared passion for sport and adventure and they would travel together at every opportunity to ski, trek, cycle or simply seek out new places to explore in Europe, Central America, Asia and Africa. Kate held a particular passion for the food of Asia, which she cooked superbly, and for the “lovely smiles” of the people of Africa that she first experienced during her medical elective in rural Lesotho (where patients were delivered to her in wheelbarrows). Her dream for retirement was to work in an underdeveloped country but until such time she would offer financial support to help those too poor to help themselves.
In 2007 Kate was appointed as a neonatal consultant at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge and Transport Lead for the East of England. It was hard work, effectively two jobs, but a dream move that enabled Kate to further her career, be closer to her family and, ultimately, to buy a home together with David. All was going perfectly until September 7th 2012, the year after her 50th birthday, when Kate was diagnosed with Cancer of Unknown Primary. The prognosis was poor and the disease would be terminal but, although she was forced to stop work immediately, Kate and David were determined to continue with their plans to marry. The wedding took place on May 19th, 2013 at St Paul’s in Cambridge, the church Kate attended regularly and where her father had been vicar following his days at Barton Seagrave.
When the day arrived the sun shone and the large gathering of family and friends gasped in amazement as the bride walked down the aisle in a stunning gold dress. The smiling lady painted a picture of health and beauty but, sadly, though the beauty remained to the end, the disease would take hold in the days and weeks to follow. Just seven months later, on January 7th, 2014, Kate passed away at home. In the words of one of the many mourners, “Kate was the person that we all one day hope to be”. She leaves behind a grieving father and husband, three siblings and their eight children. She was utterly devoted to them all, and they to her.