By Alice and Emily Trend
[AL] Most of you probably knew our mother as Harriet. But we didn’t. We called her Moe. She was married to our father John, or Doe as we’ve called him forever. Moe and Doe. So, we thought it VERY important to make this clear early on, just so you all know exactly who we’re talking about!
And for those who don’t know us, we are Harriet’s daughters, Alice, Emily and Trend. I mention this because a few years ago I went to a drinks party in Beaulieu and was chatting to someone who knew Moe quite well. I introduced myself as Harriet’s daughter. ‘Oh’ she said sounding very surprised ‘I never knew Harriet had any children’. But this was no surprise to me, or to us, partly because Moe thought it terribly dull to talk about her own children, but mainly because Moe was much more interested in other people, in her friends, in all of you. She loved people and was incredibly social and this became more and more apparent towards the end of her life when a constant stream of visiting friends became her life blood.
Of course, it’s no easy task trying to encapsulate Moe’s life into a handful of stories but, when the three of us spent time reflecting on what to say today, the same wonderful characteristics emerged: she was remarkably hospitable, had a great sense of fun, was gregarious, straight talking and determined. And yet there were also a mass of beautiful contradictions: Deeply kind and yet unsentimental, generous in the extreme to others but frugal when it came to herself. And selfless. She never ever put herself first, except of course when she was racing her scow!
Born on the 20th December 1939, Harriet Campbell grew up in Muir of Ord, north of Inverness, part of a big and loving Campbell family clan. Her parents were very social and hers was an outdoors life filled with shooting, fishing and array of animals including alsations, ferrets and ponies. These two things, a huge capacity for socialising and a love of animals, were to become two of the great themes of Moe’s life.
She was the eldest of four siblings Nigel, Andy and Priscilla. Nigel was three years younger and whether he knew this or not, Moe was determined to be the boss of him! Priscilla and Andy were 7 and 10 years younger respectively than Moe and in Andy’s words, “What an incredible big sister she was to me. When I was little, Harriet would take time out to tease me or cuddle me and make me feel important. She was always fun, always warm, always positive, and never afraid to say what she thought. I loved her very much.”
She was schooled by a governess at home initially and then went to Prep school at Butterstone House in Perthshire and then the long trip south to Downe House in Berkshire. But she was always quite the provincial girl; there’s a wonderful letter she wrote to her parents that describes a day out with another family. The parents took Moe and their daughter, and I quote “out for lunch at a HOTEL!!!” (For the record, the word ‘hotel’ was in capital letters and was followed by 3 exclamation marks). Plenty more capital letters and exclamation marks were deployed when describing her friend’s mother who “wore a frightfully tight skirt and HIGH HEEL shoes!!!” Provincial maybe, but never afraid to break the rules or speak her mind.
Moe was presented to the Queen when she was 18. She was the last year of girls to have this privilege. But she didn’t see it as a privilege. It was, in her words, “a load of baloney”.
Moe trained to be a nurse in Edinburgh and in 1963 when she was working in Kensington she met Doe in the Hyde Park Hotel at a dinner that preceded a Debs dance. She was 24. Doe was a dashing army officer who offered her a lift to the party in his Peugeot. She said yes and so began the start of a brilliant lifelong partnership.
At one point during their courtship when Doe was an instructor at Sandhurst, he took her on a yacht to Cherbourg with 7 of his cadets. It was a dreadful trip, everyone was sick, there was a fire on board. All the ingredients for a perfect date! He couldn’t believe that she still wanted to marry him after this. But I should think she loved it! She wouldn’t have been sick and neither would Doe and so they would have done what they do best: work their socks off to keep everyone else happy.
[EM] In 1974 having left the army Doe got a job as factor on the Glenapp Estate in Ayrshire, a fairly remote part of Scotland and here began, as we mentioned earlier, a great theme of Moe’s life… endlessly gathering a menagerie of animals; ponies, sheep, dogs and even a badger that was
rescued from a snare.
When we arrived in Beaulieu, Moe was 38 and it was the Silver Jubilee year. We arrived with three ponies all squished in to one trailer – two facing forwards, one backwards. We lived in the Mill House initially and then Abbey Mead, Doe was the land agent for Edward and then Ralph Montagu. The stream of ponies continued and more animals were added to the clan - a flock of sheep, a goat, cats, dogs. Joey the sheep who thought he was a dog and was endlessly having to be retrieved from Dru and Frank McGinn’s porch. We never actually owned donkeys, but no one had told the ‘donks' that. They regularly trotted in through the back door, knowing it would ALWAYS be open – licking their lips as they helped themselves to anything they could find in the kitchen: Vegetables, potatoes… they’d wreak havoc and remarkably have departed by the time anyone got home.
An open house, filled with people and animals, who she loved.
We were pony mad, a passion started with Doe’s knowledge of horses and Moe’s desire to always be doing something - they both spent hours as committed pony club parents. Moe’s enthusiasm spread and soon we had a great gang of friends all with their own ponies - the Fairweathers, Markbys, McGinns, Parkers and Reddicliffs.
As girls we were endlessly going to shows and competitions with our ponies. Moe was clear. We absolutely had to share our ponies with the girls who were at these shows but who were not lucky enough to own a pony. We had to let them ride them or hold them. As a selfish 8yo/10yo I hated having to do this. But in Moe’s mind there was no question. Family did not come first. Generosity of spirit took precedence, as did being kind, welcoming and sharing with everyone but particularly to those less fortunate than ourselves.
The Beaulieu River Sailing Club became a huge part of Moe’s life and, as many of you here witnessed in very close quarters, she was THE MOST competitive on the water! She encouraged all of us to learn to sail which we did because she had an extraordinary energy and enthusiasm for ‘doing’. We were brought up with the notion that wasting time was very bad news. Sitting around and chatting? You must be joking! We rode, swam, played tennis and sailed, of course.
That same energy enthused all of her grandchildren to learn at the BRSC and, naturally, that meant having us all to stay. Her generosity, her desire to DO, to help, at times amounted to a kind of wonderful recklessness. She never ever said no. And always said yes to looking after any number of grandchildren if we wanted to go away for a weekend. On one famous occasion she agreed to have ALL of our children on the SAME weekend. None of us realised that the other two were asking the same favour and, at the same time, Moe certainly didn't tell us! She had all seven grandchildren a couple of dogs. She didn't bat an eyelid and she and Doe gave them a hilarious time; hunting for monsters in the woods and paddling about precariously in the Beaulieu River mud. Moe’s desire to be 100% helpful gleefully overrode any sense of normal practicality.
[TREND] Was Moe strong willed? Well… contrary to the laws of physics she had the unfailing conviction that a dingy, a Topper in fact ABSOLUTELY MUST FIT into the boot of a Skoda. And Einstein be damned, she was right! Albeit the vehicle that made the thankfully-short-yet-perilous journey to Needs Ore as more boat than car.
As we got older, in a rather brilliant way, there was no over thinking or introspection on her part. I went on a motor bike across the US with a boyfriend who agonised about telling his parents that we wouldn’t be taking or indeed wearing a helmet for the entire 2 month trip. When I told M & D, they didn't flinch. It was never questioned. Alice got lost in Central America for ages. No panic. And we didn’t hear a word from Emily for months from northern India, did we? Again, no drama. No news is good news, is what we were being taught.
When we all left home Moe took up nursing again, and quite soon was the manager at the Lymington Day Hospital. She became the New Forest Parkinson’s Disease Specialist nurse and, then, when she retired from the NHS she did telephone consultancy for the Parkinson’s Disease Society.
But of course this wasn’t nearly enough for Moe. Oh no! Running B and Bs became quite a passion for her. Typically, she couldn’t say no to anyone which often led to 12 or more people staying in the house. When the house was full, she’d be heard saying on the phone “Well, we don’t have room in the house but you can sleep on the boat. It’s very nice!” And so, yet another family was taken care of.
Then her three daughters would turn up with ever burgeoning families, to find the back door wide open, of course, and to our horror, the garden and house full of strangers who seemed to have Moe’s full attention. She thought almost all of them were brilliant! The greater point being, Moe had unfailing trust in the world and particularly in people. She believed that in general, people were good. And rightly so.
And then there’s the fact that she’d never say no to a party. Moe loved to dance, usually with a man a great deal younger than her, and she’d be off twirling him around the dance floor with tremendous joie de vivre.
She was busy and determined at all times and no less so when she was ill. She never wanted sympathy or help. During the roller coaster ride of her illness she would be terribly, worryingly sick but she would equally have what seemed like miraculously fast recoveries. We knew all was well again when Doe would say ‘I think she’s OK, she’s back out chopping the wood’.
On behalf of us and particularly Doe we’d like to say thank you to everyone here. So many of you dropped in to see Moe during her last few weeks and even when she could only manage a sentence or two she always loved to see a friend. Lots of you brought beautiful flowers picked from your gardens, you brought cakes, ice cream, ginger tea, lunches and suppers, and above all you brought your love to Moe in her final days. This was so touching to us all. We’d also like to say Doe has been overwhelmed by the wonderful letters; they made us laugh and they’ve made us cry. They encapsulate everything we feel about Moe; that she was fun, independent, spirited, determined, positive and kind. She was extraordinary to us as a mother, an incredible, adventurous grandmother to her 7 grandchildren. And to Doe she will always remain ‘my darling Moe’.
They supported each other through everything always agreeing on the big issues in life: generosity, warmth, kindness, manners, grasping opportunities and a live and let live attitude. Moe’s consistent sense of style that spanned her clothes, decorating her house, her flowers, was effortless and all done with minimal expense but maximum panache. As Al mentioned earlier while hugely generous to others she was always extremely frugal to herself. Two things we were always taught - “Never say no to a party”, and, “Don’t spend money on yourself so that you always have money to buy everyone an ice-cream”.
She lived by these rules and what remarkable rules to live by.
Thank you Moe. You were one in a million. We salute you.