5 October 1932 to 18 September 2021
This page includes a video of the funeral held at St James on 5 October 2021 and the tribute given at the service.
Shared by Revd Nick Bundock on behalf of the family.
Born in Bury on 5 October 1932 to Jack and Florence Evans. Florence’s maiden name was Bolton and so Shirley was given Bolton as her middle name.
Shirley had two sisters – Kathleen (Kay) who was born in Feb 1934 and Mary who was born in Nov 1936. She went to Bury Grammar School and then Calder Girls School in Seascale, Cumbria. When she left school, she moved to Edinburgh to study Nursing for four years at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. She then spent a year at Queen Charlotte hospital studying midwifery before moving back to Bury to work in Bury General Hospital where she worked as a sister on the private ward.
It was while working at Bury General hospital that she met her future husband, Adel Doss. They married in October 1963, an occasion which made The Bury Times since Adel’s parents and other family members came over from Egypt for the wedding. After the wedding they moved to Cairo, where Sarah and Sally were born.
Shirley enjoyed life in Cairo, learning to cook Egyptian food from Adel’s family and making friends with the British wives of Egyptian doctors. She used to recall getting the tram to the British Embassy to read the English newspapers and magazines.
One of Adel’s cousins tells how he was impressed how Shirley adapted to life in Cairo with two young children. He said that the Coptic church of St Mark’s in Heliopolis was on Cleopatra Street and was known by the locals as Cleopatra Church. After Shirley had been in Cairo a while, trying to be culturally aware, she mentioned to one of Adel’s relatives that she didn’t know that Cleopatra was a Christian and it was explained to her that she wasn’t and that Cleopatra Church the nick name for St Mark’s church – she was really embarrassed.
In March 1969, Adel and Shirley decided to move back to the UK. Since President Nasser wasn’t letting professional people leave the country, they didn’t tell Adel’s parents their plans, saying that they were going on holiday to the UK and they packed a couple of suitcases and £10 each.
They initially lived with Shirley’s mum in Bury and once Adel got a job they told his parents that they were staying in the UK. They moved to Didsbury and when Sarah and Sally were settled in school Shirley returned to nursing as a school nurse following the suggestion of a family friend.
She worked as a school nurse for 25 years – covering Beaver Road School, Broad Oak and Parrswood High School. She was often recognised by children whilst shopping in Didsbury. She got a school nursing certificate and health education certificate as the role moved away from doing eye and hearing tests and checking for head lice and more towards health education. She was a member of the South Manchester School Nurse Association. She worked hard to get school nurses the same recognition that was given to district nurses and health visitors. She used to recount having to do sex education classes at Parrswood High School and some of the boys in the class trying to embarrass her with their questions. Her response was that as a nurse she had seen and heard all sorts of things and their questions didn’t embarrass her!
On the sudden death of Adel in 1982, Shirley coped well and was grateful that the family hadn’t moved to Aberdeen where Adel had been working. It meant that she had the support of friends in Didsbury. She was very good at maintaining connections with Adel’s family and the first Christmas after Adel’s death she took Sarah and Sally to Cairo to visit Adel’s family (we hadn’t been able to go back while Adel was alive since he would have been asked to stay and do military service). She attended the Coptic church in Manchester, which Adel had started to help set up. She also helped with the Sunday School there for a little while.
Shirley helped Sarah and Sally get started on their careers – Sarah studying catering and Sally studying microbiology. Once Sarah and Sally had left home, she had lodgers – mainly producers from BBC Songs of Praise, which was recorded in Manchester.
She was involved in the life of St James and Emmanuel – helping with the Sunday School, serving coffee after the service, being a church warden and a sidesperson and cooking meals for Boaz. She opened her house to others, hosting a home group for many years. She knew that she didn’t want to lead it, being shy and not comfortable reading aloud, but her special gift was being hospitable, as many people have told the family. She enjoyed having the home group and hosting a pancake party on Shrove Tuesday. John and Marion Kendrick, who were in her home group, recalled that she was one of the few people to invite them and their five children round for a meal.
Shirley played a key role in the life of Amira, her only granddaughter. Sarah had to work shifts, so Amira would often stay the night with her grandma. She enjoyed taking Amira shopping to Kendals in Manchester, and since she was a Fraser card holder she took her into the card holders’ lounge which had tea, coffee and biscuits which Amira enjoyed. She was overjoyed when Amira and her partner Jimmy had twin girls, Rosie and Ivy, and she loved it when they visited her in her bungalow. Amira remembers, “She raised two amazing girls and then she massively helped to raise me. She took me on amazing days out, helped me go down the right career path and helped and supported me to buy my first home. More than anything she helped me to be me, to be English, be Egyptian. She helped me with makeup, clothes, she just got me. She was tough, sometimes scary, but only because she wanted the best out of you.”
Following the deterioration in her health and the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, she moved into Abney Court Care home. She settled in well, and joined in their activities. Sam, one of the team leaders, recounted that they have a Saturday night drinks trolley so that the residents can enjoy a drink while watching Strictly Come Dancing. Sam gave Shirley a port and then served a couple of other people, by which time Shirley had finished her drink and asked for another one! She liked a drink – especially red wine. Her hospitable nature persevered until her final days – one of the cleaners at Abney Court said that she always offered him a drink when he was cleaning her room.
Shirley enjoyed gardening and had a great collection of plants in the garden at Fairfax Avenue. She went to the first and subsequent RHS Tatton flower shows. She enjoyed going on the first day and always came away with a plant or three! She was often very slow in planting these new plants into the garden, and so she ended up with a big collection of plants in pots, much to the frustration of Sarah and Sally.
She was good at sewing and made lots of clothes using kits from Clothkits for Sarah and Sally when they were children.
She was very good at cooking, always using raw ingredients rather than jars of prepared sauces or ready meals. She really enjoyed preparing Egyptian food and was well known for her baklava, which she always made for church events. She always had a full fridge and was partial to buying and cooking too much!
Shirley liked reading, and really enjoyed the books of Alexander McCall Smith – the 44 Scotland Street series, which was set in Edinburgh, probably reminded her of her nursing days.
She was on the local committee for the NSPCC and helped with the annual fair, collections outside Tesco and door to door envelope collections. Sarah and Sally remember having to count all the change from the envelope collections.
She also joined the Galleon Health club (now Waterside leisure centre) and enjoyed swimming and a weekly pilates class.
When she retired, she volunteered at Ewing School in West Didsbury where she listened to children who struggled with their reading. Another thing she did after she retired, was to go to evening class to relearn Arabic – she had picked up a lot when she lived in Egypt but since Adel’s family spoke good English, she wasn’t fluent in it, so she wanted to learn it again.
She enjoyed travelling – with Sarah and Sally she went back to Egypt several times so visit Adel’s family. She also enjoyed trips to Turkey and Jordan with Sally. She attended school nurse conferences in Europe and the US and helped host the conference when it was based in the UK. She made many international friends through these trips. She visited her sister Kay in Seattle many times. She joined a trip to the Sinai and St Catherine’s monastery in Egypt and she also went to Oberammergau passion play. When she was asked what she wanted to do for her 80th birthday, she said that she wanted to go to Marrakech and eat in the famous Jemaa el-Fnaa square. Sarah, Sally and Amira took her there and the photograph below was taken on that trip.