Betty Manners

Betty Manners

21 May 1923
London, United Kingdom
21 June 2023
London, United Kingdom
Words by
Ruth and Daniel Manners Betty's children

Mum was born Lilian Betty Schafran on 21 May 1923, but throughout her life she was universally known as Betty. Her mother was Caroline Mendoza and her father was Emmanuel Schafran, a school teacher, and they were always called Muffy & Poppa by us their grandchildren. They lived in Upper Clapton, which Muffy proudly thought was smarter than Lower Clapton.

Mum’s sister Margaret, always known as Peggy, was born three years later and they had a happy childhood together. Mum enjoyed school and had an extended network of friends and family in London.

She was sixteen when WW2 broke out, and Mum was sad that this stopped her going to University where she would have liked to study English. She was evacuated to Windsor, together with Poppa’s school, which meant the family could stay together. With their dark curls, Mum said that she and Peggy were often mistaken in the town for the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Mum subsequently joined the war effort working in engineering, testing components for airplanes.

After the war, Mum had an admin role in a clothing company and in her spare time pursued her love of music by taking opera lessons and performing in amateur dramatics.

formed a handsome couple often known as Bet and Bern

Mum met our Dad, Bernard Manners, when she was in her early thirties through his sister Rene. They married in 1957 and formed a handsome couple often known as ‘Bet and Bern.’

Daniel was born a year later and I was born two years after that. Dad established his chartered accountancy firm and Mum embraced life as a housewife and mother. I know how much pride and pleasure she took in me and Dan because she told us so in her speech at my wedding. In my speech I said that despite the ‘occasional’ difference of opinion, she gave us her lifelong support, love and friendship.

She was also Aunty Betty or Me’Aunt to her three nieces and nephews who will now all miss her as well as her constant supply of Jewish jokes.  Aunty Peggy unfortunately isn’t able to be here this afternoon, but was so sad to hear of the loss of her big sister.

Mum and Dad lived in Burnt Oak when they first married and a few years later moved to our family home in Hale Lane, Edgware. They became members of the Mill Hill Synagogue where they formed many long lasting friendships.

the Mill Hill Mannickins, which produced several popular musical shows

Mum was active in voluntary work and was chairman of the Mill Hill Shul Ladies Guild for several years. We remember her organising many fundraising events, tea parties and trips for local care home residents.

Mum and Dad were also members of the committee which ran the Jewish Youth Centre at Leigh House in Cliftonville, near Margate. This was a holiday destination for youth clubs and, during the off-season, we enjoyed many laughter-filled holidays with groups of other families.

One of her proudest and most enjoyable achievements was the formation, together with her great friend Jeff Pinnick, of the Mill Hill Mannickins, which produced several popular musical shows in which she and Dad and even Ruth and I performed.

In 1979, the great tragedy of her life was when Dad died after twenty two years of marriage leaving her widowed at the age of fifty six. She showed real strength and determination by living alone for the following thirty nine years and creating a new life for herself, moving home to her bungalow which she filled with her collection of antiques, travelling the world with her childhood friends from Clapton and watching and studying opera at Covent Garden.

She was elected by Mill Hill Shul as a Member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews in the 1980s and was delighted to be invited (and was able to sneak me in by passing me off as her other half ‘Dr’ Manners) to a two hundred and twenty fifth celebratory dinner at Hampton Court where the guests of honour were Charles and Diana.

personal warmth, humour and friendship

For several years she was proud to be a member of The Council of Christians and Jews, a national forum for interfaith engagement, and she made some lifelong friends there.

When I was a child I used to watch Mum chatting to all and sundry and I thought this is what any adult could do. Only when I grew older did I realise she had a wonderful skill at conversation, based on the fact that she was interested in everyone and was blessed with a cheerful disposition. All the kind messages we have received in the past few days highlight again and again this personal warmth, humour and friendship.

She delightedly welcomed Alex, my husband, and Sophie, Dan’s wife, to the family and was an entertaining and affectionate mother-in-law (M-i-L) who they both loved. Amazingly, she retained her natural black hair to the very end, hence Alex’s nickname for her, ‘Snowy’, which always amused her.

Undoubtedly the greatest joy of her latter years was being Nanna to her four grandchildren Ellie, Sarah, Jake and Joe who she absolutely adored. It was a blessing that she lived long enough for all of them to get to know her and for her to see them mature into young adults who she was immensely proud of and would kleib nachus about at every opportunity.

she received the card from the King, who was in fact her fifth monarch

All her life she loved socialising with her friends and family but in her nineties this became increasingly difficult as she lost her mobility and her sight. She was able to stay in her own home for the past five years thanks to the wonderful care and love given to her by darling Lorna, or as Mum called her ‘my Lorna’.

It is now apparent that she was determined to reach her century and last month we were able to celebrate her hundredth birthday with a small tea party which she enjoyed and she received the card from the King, who was in fact her fifth monarch.

Despite increasing frailty this year, Mum managed to maintain her wit and sense of humour to the very end. She was even able to enjoy a joke and a laugh when Ruth saw her on her final day.

This is how I hope that we can all remember Mum / Nanna / M-i-L / Me’Aunt / Betty – a warm, friendly, entertaining and loving person.