Much-loved Lily, 104, was at the unveiling of Chorley's war memorial in 1924

Tributes have poured in for a much-loved woman who was present at the unveiling of Chorley’s Astley Park war memorial in 1924.
Lily Hope with Stuart ClewlowLily Hope with Stuart Clewlow
Lily Hope with Stuart Clewlow

Lily Hope has died just short of her 105th birthday.

She is possibly the last witness to the memorial’s unveiling - and possibly, too, the last resident of Chorley borough to have lost a parent in action during World War One.

Lily, wife of the late Rev Hope of Euxton, passed away, aged 104, on April 10, two weeks away from her birthday.

Lily dressed in white at the war memorial unveilingLily dressed in white at the war memorial unveiling
Lily dressed in white at the war memorial unveiling
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She was the daughter of Nicholas Gillett, an original Chorley ‘Terrier’ who fought at the Battle of Festubert but was killed shortly after.

When his personal effects were returned to his wife, it was found that he had lived long enough to receive the postcard from home to say that Lily had been born.

She became known as “The Girl in White” on account of her pretty white dress - made by her seamstress Mother - and her prominent position at the unveiling of the memorial.

She was stood in the front row of children who had lost a parent during the war.

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The event was captured on cine film and a photograph from the ceremony even featured on a popular postcard of the time.

It was not until late in life that Lily began to discuss her father and her recollections of the immediate aftermath of World War One.

She was guest of honour at a Festubert exhibition by the combined schools of Chorley in 2015.

Chorley war historian Stuart Clewlow recalled: “In 2018, I had the privilege to work with John Everiss on the historical content of the Garden of Reflection project which is now a feature of the Walled Garden at Astley Hall.

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“When we visited France, wreaths were lay on behalf of the people from Chorley borough and one very special wreath was lay on behalf of Mrs Hope, close to where her father had lost his life in 1915.”

He added: Mrs Hope was a much loved lady in Euxton and remained a valued member of the local church and Euxton Women’s Institute. She will be sorely missed by her family and those who cared for her in her latter years.”

Stuart said his Facebook posting about her passing received well over 500 likes and comments from across the area.

“She was a much loved lady,” he said.

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