Address by Roddy Stansfeld
I would like to share a few of my memories of KT with you.
But first can I say a few words about her early life, even before the memories you have just heard. She was brought up on a sheep and wheat property in New South Wales, with her brother Barry, who sadly died in his early 20s and with her sister Carol, who is here today and who has been such a great help to Alex and Katie over the past three weeks.
Katie’s mother Joy still lives in the nearby town, and Katie stayed with her for several weeks earlier this year, going out in the paddocks making sketches for her latest exhibition. She and her mother had a long conversation on the phone on Katie’s birthday three weeks ago, with Katie bellowing down the phone when she thought her mother’s deafness meant she wasn’t hearing properly.
I don’t think anyone here will be surprised to learn that Katie’s favourite book when she was growing up was “The Naughtiest Girl In The School”, and she did her best to live up to that during her time at Frensham School in Mittagong, which she loved and where she made lifelong friends, some of whom are here today.
You have heard something of how she came to live in England, meet Alex, take up sailing, and go to art school.
Susie and I first met Katie on a beach in Fremantle during the 1986 America’s Cup and soon became friends. I remember she had a scooter, which was constantly breaking down. Fortunately I had a van and became her AA service.
Katie and Alex had just bought Fleetwater Farm not far from us in the New Forest and we arranged to meet again at the Chequers in Lymington once we were all back from Fremantle.
As we got to know her we realised that she was a very talented artist, keen gardener, and excellent sailor,. She was also a good bridge player and teamed up with my father at the local bridge club! Together they made a formidable team.
We often played tennis together on a friend’s (Julie) court in Minstead, usually followed by hilarious barbeques, that ended in the dark with everyone searching for lost cutlery.
It wasn’t long before Alex and Katie had their own court. This happened at an Olympic fund raising Ball when they correctly guessed the number of champagne bottles in the boot of a Saab convertible and won it - the car was quickly exchanged for a tennis court.
Another highlight of our friendship were the annual cycling trips from Cherbourg to Barfleur. Katie unlike Alex was a fairly slow cyclist but she was always the first to find a bar.
As a party organiser and hostess she was superb, I am sure many of you were invited to Alex’s leaving party at No. 10 and others to his surprise 50th birthday party in Fremantle. Somehow she managed in secret to get people from all over the world to Fremantle and the party was a complete surprise. On the morning of his birthday, Alex was having coffee on the beach and was amazed to find his mother (Maureen) at the next-door table.
Katie loved animals and her spaniel Holly was flown to Canberra to take up her post as resident diplomatic dog in the British High Commission. This involved having dog flaps installed in the doors at Westminster House! Katie was probably the first person to have a chicken run in the grounds. Katie loved her chickens. There were always chickens helping in the garden at Fleetwater farm. She once organised a charity eggcup auction and charmed many celebrities into signing or painting the eggcups. We are still the proud owners of an original Henry Cooper.
In 1999 Susie and I were lucky enough to join Katie and Alex in a drive across the north of Australia from Queensland to Fremantle, and we were still good friends after 7 weeks of camping together in the bush.
Later that year they briefly moved back to London due to Alex’s work, but then in 2001 they decided to live in western Australia where they remained until 2004 when work brought them back to London again.
Katie first came to this church in the 1970s, when she was staying with Alex’s family at Copse Hill Farm. She came to a sung Eucharist, with lots of incence, very different to what she had grown up with in Australia, and had to whisper to Jane “is this a Roman Catholic church? Can I take communion?”
Katie will leave a huge hole in all our lives, she was always busy, fitting more into each day than most people would in a week. She brought pleasure and excitement to everyone who met her.
We will all miss her.