Nephew Pays Tribute To Mary Winter, 1925-2015

Mary Winters 1925-2015

Mary Winter 1925-2015

The nephew of Mary Winter has paid tribute to his aunt, who passed away in Park House on Monday evening.

Nigel Winter was with her at the time.

Mary was born in 1925 in Chelsea. Her father was a police officer, but he developed cancer at a young age and the family moved to run the Plough Pub in Wavendon in Buckinghamshire.

Mary passed the test for admittance at Bletchley Park where she worked with the team that successfully deciphered German naval communications. Commentators believe their work shortened the Second World War by four years and saved millions of lives.

After the war, she went on to take a senior executive position in the top-secret British intelligence communications centre in Cheltenham.

In 1967, Mary was awarded an MBE but Nigel is unsure whether it recognised her contribution to the Enigma team or GCHQ, as she was very modest about her career.

Nigel said she wouldn’t talk openly about her career, even when the papers were declassified. She told curious friends to read the Peter Wright book ‘Spycatcher’ to learn about her areas of work.

Mary was a keen rambler and first discovered the islands on a walking holiday. She moved here, taking early retirement to look after her mother and bought land on Jackson’s Hill in the 1970s.

Nigel says when his aunt discovered the islands, there was nowhere else she wanted to live. And she was adamant that she never wanted to leave.

That created some difficult decisions about her care towards the end of her life, as she needed 24 hour care, but she remained on St Mary’s until she passed away on Monday, said Nigel.

Many locals know Mary for her tireless work feeding the stray cats living at the Moorwell dump.

Even when she was getting older and less mobile, Nigel says Mary put the animals first and visited them in all weathers. She was even caught trying to get down the steps of Jackson’s Hill to feed the cats only days after a hip replacement!

One of his favourite memories of his aunt is a recent one. In January, he was pushing her through Hugh Town in wheelchair, when she suddenly said she had to go into the Co-op. Nigel said she then proceeded to sit in the shop eating chocolate biscuits and refused to let go of the packet to be scanned!

Mary’s other passions included art and she painted around two hundred landscapes in oils using short paintbrushes for the intricate work. She sold many of them at exhibitions in Scilly.

No date has been arranged for Mary’s funeral yet but Nigel says it will be at the Old Town Church.

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