A long-time guide at the Metropolitan Cathedral, Winefride Park died on Friday 3 May aged 94.
Winefride’s association with the Cathedral had begun on 5 June 1933 when, as an eight-year-old, she visited the site on the very day the foundation stone was laid. Her three sons were later choristers there – one of them, William, even sang a solo at the inaugural Mass – and she had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the building which made her a perfect choice to appear on BBC’s ‘Songs of Praise’ programme when it marked the Cathedral’s golden jubilee in 2017.
Born on 9 July 1924 as Maria Leonor Winefride Chibber, she owed her given name, Winefride, to her mother Leonora Azurdia, a Guatemalan, who had prayed at St Winefride’s Well in Holywell when she was having difficulty conceiving.
Winefride’s father Hans was a doctor and she made her first communion in Lourdes where he served on the Liverpool Archdiocesan Pilgrimage each year (and acted as a witness following the miraculous recovery of Jack Traynor).
After attending Bellerive Convent Grammar School, Winefride read Modern Languages at Liverpool University but had her studies interrupted by service abroad, in Italy and Austria, with the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service), the women’s branch of the British army during the Second World War.
Her daughter, Cecilia recalls: ‘She saw the results of the fighting with people at the end of the war, repatriating them. I remember her talking about going on people’s motorbikes to watch opera in the open air. She was in lots of plays and shows but she never boasted – she was quite understated.’
In 1953 she married her husband Jack and had four children, sons Richard, Justin and William along with Cecilia. Prior to starting a family she had worked at the Liverpool Cotton Exchange but from 1960 she started teaching Commercial subjects in secondary schools, first at St John Almond in Garston and then St Julie’s in Woolton.
On retiring, Winefride volunteered at the Liverpool University Catholic chaplaincy with Survive-Miva, a Catholic charity providing vehicles for health and pastoral care in Africa.
For 16 years, moreover, she was a guide at the Cathedral as well as a regular reader at Mass there. ‘She was very much part of the community,’ remembers Cecilia.
Speaking to the Pic in 2017 Winefride herself said, ‘Sometimes when I go in, I recall the wonderful times we’ve had there’ and it was only fitting that it was there that her Requiem Mass was celebrated on Monday 20 May.