30 May 2024

Farewell, Nan

Allow me if you will to write a little tribute to my Nan, whom I’ve mentioned before in this column, and who left us on Monday, a few days shy of her 95th birthday.

She was nothing short of a legend in our family, a one-off – once met, never forgotten. Helga was Austrian originally, and came to England not long after the Second World War, having met my RAF grandad in Vienna. She moved into a new-build in Willerby in 1960 and lived there ever since, right up until a few months ago when her health declined and she had to go into a care home.

She’s been ever-present all my life, and in her prime she would bake something for practically every occasion. Christmas – dozens of vanilla kipfel, lebkuchen and treats featuring the Krampus (a crazy creature from Austrian folklore); Valentine’s Day – heart- shaped biscuits galore; Halloween – all things pumpkin-shaped; a random wet Wednesday – yet more sweet treats. It’s a wonder I wasn’t enormous…

We’d watch The Sound of Music over and over again in my lunch break when I was at primary school, so consequently that film still has a special place in my heart, and not just because Christopher Plummer is rather, er, hot in it. Well, he is!

She had loads of stories of living through the war in Austria, which I helped her recount in a short book a few years ago. It’s certainly the end of an era for us. RIP, Nan.