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Tributes to former pub landlady

PUBLISHED: 18:36 30 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:22 12 July 2010

TRIBUTES have been paid to a former pub landlady who has died at the age of 81 - more than six decades after she was told she might only live to be 30.

TRIBUTES have been paid to a former pub landlady who has died at the age of 81 - more than six decades after she was told she might only live to be 30.

June Machen owned and ran the De La Pole Arms at Wingfield, from 1975-85 and re-established it as the social centre of the village.

Her daughter, Carol Kirkup, described her mother as “a special lady, someone who was kind, generous, affectionate, loving and warm”.

“She was a lady of courage, determination and patience, who was respected for her integrity and intellect, her sound judgement and the manner in which she included and accepted everyone no matter who they were, where they came from or what their background,” she said.

Mrs Kirkup said the fact that her mother had experienced a long, happy and eventful life was remarkable.

“In her teens, back in the late 1930s, mum was struck down with an illness known as Empaiema the result of which meant that she lost the use of one of her lungs.

“Luckily for her she had a very determined mother who was not going to let her daughter die without trying every avenue. And it was down to her mother's insistence that they try out some new drugs that might help her. It saved her life.

“A follow up consequence to this illness was that she developed a curvature of the spine, and during her teenage years she endured 17 operations and treatment that included laying on her back for 6 months in a plaster caste.”

Mrs Kirkup said instead of wallowing in self pity, her mother had learned shorthand from her hospital bed, read extensively and became accomplished at needlework, eventually enjoying a successful teaching career.

The advice from the doctors that she received when she was once again fit enough to leave hospital was that she should think very carefully before having children, as her limited breathing capacity and weakened spine might not hold up. She was also told that she might not live beyond 30 years of age.

In the end, Mrs Machen not only lived to be 81 she had three children - Alan, Neil and Carol.

Ian Machen, who has flown from his home in Cyprus for the funeral, said: “She encouraged us to be independent but there was always a secure home base and plenty of support.”

Mrs Machen also leaves four grandchildren. Her beloved husband, Gordon, died in May last year.

The couple had spent the last six months of their married life together in a nursing home in Norwich. Following her husband's death, Mrs Machen went to live at the Scole Lodge nursing home, only three miles from her daughter's home at Diss.

The funeral and celebration of her life took place in Wingfield Church on Saturday. Donations were requested for the British Lung Foundation.

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