Tributes paid to well-known Northallerton businesswoman

The Northern Echo: Mary Howard with her husband Tony Mary Howard with her husband Tony

ONE of the best-known business women in Northallerton has lost her long battle with illness.

Mary Howard managed the china department at Lewis and Cooper, for 21 years until her retirement in 2006. She joined the business when her husband, Tony Howard, became managing director and went on to become his deputy.

She became ill in 2000 and was eventually diagnosed with the rare degenerative neurological disorder, multiple system atrophy.

Despite being given a two-year prognosis, her family said Mrs Howard bravely fought off the disease without complaint for more than six years. She died on Sunday, aged 69.

Born in Scarborough as one of six children in 1944, she developed a life-long love of sport early on and ran for North Yorkshire. After leaving school, she became a cashier at grocery firm Liptons in her home town.

Mr Howard recalled how his then boss effected an introduction by locking the couple in a room together for 90 minutes when the young stock controller visited to carry out an audit. They were married two years later, and would have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary next year.

The Howards moved from Scarborough to Harrogate, then Acomb, York, and then to a smallholding in Huby, near Easingwold, where Mrs Howard developed a passion for self-sufficiency, rearing many animals and growing food.

She retained a love of animals and gardening even after she joined her husband full-time at Lewis and Cooper and the family moved to another smallholding near Brompton, Northallerton.

She also took a keen interest in her daughters’ sporting achievements and became an honorary life member of Northallerton Hockey Club.

Once her illness took hold, she was looked after at home by her husband and carers, then latterly at Southwoods, in Northallerton.

“She was incredibly stoical in the face of her illness – she never once complained about it – and retained a sense of humour right to the end,” said Mr Howard.

“I’d like to thank all of the staff at Southwoods, as well as her last carer Sharon Troy – they’ve all been magnificent.”

Mrs Howard is survived by her sister, Elsie Marshall, as well as her husband, daughters Sally, Bettina and Victoria, and seven grandchildren.

*Her funeral will be held at St Thomas’ Church, Brompton, on Wednesday, December 18 at 10.15am, then Darlington crematorium. Family flowers only. Donations to the Multiple System Atrophy Trust.

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