Remembering Maureen’s Colne legacy

Maureen Arnold (s)
Maureen Arnold (s)

With the arrival of summer, and the blooming of the town’s floral displays, guest contributor Caroline Palmer remembers one of Colne’s best friends, Maureen Arnold, who died last year.

Maureen was such a quietly passionate advocate for Colne, and especially the Waterside area, where she lived in Colne Lane.

She taught maths and science in several secondary schools in the North West, and then moved to Colne, where she found the house in Colne Lane which became a vibrant warm heart where family and friends were always welcome.

After working as a teacher, Maureen wanted a change, so went on to help set up the Green’s Co-operative Wholefood Café in New Market Street, now known as Jim’s.

Maureen committed herself to it, with her usual dedication and thoroughness, impressing others with her knowledge and concern for green issues, and never being afraid to appear unconventional.

It was at Green’s that she met Peter Arnold, whom she married and in 1986, having two children Mat and Dan.

She returned to teaching maths at Nelson and Colne College, and despite her own prodigious intellect and talent (she was a member of Mensa), she was particularly good at teaching remedial maths, helping those without confidence, closely observing her students, reflecting on their difficulties and being creative in her strategies to make learning more accessible to them.

Indeed during her illness with cancer, she was approached by one of the nurses who recognised her with admiration and affection as the teacher who had really helped her with maths, and led to her passing the maths module on her access to nursing course.

Maureen, had a searching, keen mind, always displaying honesty, integrity and thoughtful plain speaking, but without a single unkind, strident or thoughtless remark.

Elected as a Liberal councillor, her love of nature and gardens led to her pivotal involvement in the establishment of the Millennium Green in Waterside, as well as chairing the Colne Town Council allotment committee and then being an enthusiastic and energetic member of Colne in Bloom.

She was wise, intelligent and thoughtful, but also had a great sense of humour and fun. She was a wonderful wife, mother, sister and friend, providing delicious meals and memorable parties, and had real artistic and creative flair in her needlework and painting.

She entered her work in the Pendle Open Art Exhibition, but never sold any, as she felt unable to put a price on them, and they are now treasured priceless family mementoes.

She also had a lovely soft voice, singing at the Lord Rodney folk nights, and as part of a Gospel Choir, whose energy she loved, but she choked on the words so substituted her own secular ones under her breath instead.

Having taken good care of herself, and been an example of healthy moderate living, it seemed even more ironic and unfair that Maureen died at such a relatively young age, but she was never embittered, even after her cancer returned and was told that she wouldn’t survive. One of the last things that she wrote, after she was no longer able to speak was, ”I’ve had a lovely life.”

Pragmatic and level-headed, she saw the end of her life for what it was and faced her illness as she did all things: reflecting and thinking, preparing for it and then bravely bearing it.

Born into a supportive loving family, it remained of central importance to her, in turn having unconditional love for her sons Mat and Dan and being hugely proud of them, both talented musicians now pursuing musical careers.

She was totally devoted to her grandson Toby, who demonstrates the same enquiring, intelligent curiosity and honest nature as Maureen. As her brother said, three Cs come to mind when he thinks of Maureen: Courage, conviction and compassion.

Colne is much the richer for her having lived here in our town, as are those of us who counted her as a friend.

∙ A tree-planting ceremony in memory of Maureen is planned for November, around the date of her birthday, and is likely to be held in Millennium Green.