End of an era for St Ippolyts Church as Mrs Andrews cleans up for the last time

Mrs Andrews cleaning up at St Nicholas'.

Mrs Andrews cleaning up at St Nicholas'. - Credit: Archant

St Ippolyts will welcome cribs from across the world this weekend for its Nativity Crib Festival, so the church may get a bit messy – but for the first time in years they’ll have to think about who they’re going to get to clean everything up.

That’s because there’s the end of an era at St Ippolyts Church today, as Jean Andrews spruces the place up for the last time after 65 years of service.

Mrs Andrews, 85, was married in the church in 1948 and began cleaning there twice a week in September 1950. In that time her basic weekly routine has never deviated from tidying up on Mondays following the Sunday service, and buffing up the brass and other jobs on Fridays.

“The time has come for me to retire,” she said. “I was only 20 when I started. I am looking forward to retiring and having a good rest. I will miss all the ladies at the church.”

Mrs Andrews and her husband have lived in the village throughout their 67 years of marriage.

Strictly speaking, the church has been looked after by Mrs Andrews for even longer than 65 years, as Jean’s predecessor was her mother-in-law – also Mrs Andrews.

In 2000, after half a century of work at St Ippolyts, Jean was presented an inscribed rose bowl and an engraved silver frame containing a clock and a picture of the church.

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“We really are going to miss Jean,” said Pamela Skeggs, who chairs St Ippolyts Parish Council.

“It’s 65 years of service – really incredible. She’s always lovely and welcoming when you go in and see her with the dusters and so forth.”

Jane Veasey, one of the churchwardens, agreed.

“Of course we’re very sad, but I understand it, of course. She’s not getting any younger,” said Jane.

“She’s always come whatever the weather – Mondays and Fridays without fail. She also used to clean up after weddings, which happen here about 10 times a year.

“Every church should have a Mrs Andrews.”

The crib festival is on from 11am to 5pm tomorrow and on Sunday. Entry is £2 or free for children, and there will be tea, coffee and cake.

There were more than 120 cribs last year, from as far away as Ecuador and Burma.

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