The most important person here called her Mummy, but to the rest of us she was simply Flip.
I didn’t even know she was ill
It was so sudden
I have heard those words so many times in the last 10 days.
But perhaps the words I have heard most frequently are “Poor Charlie”.
In December 2002 Charles died so tragically. In January last year Flip’s brother, Martin, died from a stroke. Last September, Pym, Charles’s Mum, passed away at the fair old age of 91, after an increasing amount and ultimately daily care and attention from Flip. But now, in the month of what would have been just her 62nd birthday, we are all here to remember Flip. And her illness was so sudden that she did not have time to say good-bye to her family and friends.
That is all desperately sad, but let us not focus on the fact that Flip was not granted enough years. Let us focus on the joy and wonderment of the life of Flip. On a life full of achievement. On a person who helped and contributed so much to so many others. On a person with so many qualities and abilities. On a remarkable and likeable person. And on a person who I, and I think all of us here (and many others who can’t be here), are really proud to call a friend.
Born into an established farming family, the only daughter of Henry & Ida
Greenfield, Flip and her brother Martin grew up at a time when farming was
the life-blood of the countryside, and there was great social cohesion
amongst the farming community. In the countryside of the 1960’s, young
people got their kicks by being part of the Young Farmers movement, and upon
leaving Thomas Mills Grammar School, Flip joined Melton YFC and straight
away got involved in everything that that marvellous organisation can offer
– Public Speaking competitions, being Editor of the Suffolk YFC County
Magazine, organising a 7-Ring Horse Show at the Suffolk Showground, she
reached the post of vice-chairman of the Suffolk Federation of YFCs and
(memorably for those who were there) appeared on stage in a YFC Revue
wearing little more than fishnet tights, a top hat and a huntsman’s
Young Farmers membership can easily become a full-time pursuit of pleasure, thrills and competition, but Flip managed to find the time to enrol on a Farm Secretarial Course at Studley Agricultural College, where she soon made friends with Viv, Sue and Julia who were her flatmates in Halls. Student finances being what they are, the girls preferred to save their money for social purposes by devising a system for re-using the same coin many times over in the gas meter. We have heard of many happenings in that cold dormitory of Studley Castle, several of which involved Flip, a dead mouse and a length of string but Charlie will be able to read about that another time. Flip won the Studley College prize for best Thesis in her year – which we may, or may not be surprised to hear was all about Brewing.
A love of animals is essential in farming life, and Flip would travel great distances to dog shows with the Cavalier Spaniels that her Mother bred – one of which was reputedly a champion at Crufts.
After College, Flip went back to Suffolk where she became part of the management of a large Turkey rearing operation, and put her Public Speaking training to good use when asked to give a presentation to a national Conference of the Turkey industry.
But right from College days, Flip was gaining a reputation as a quick, skilled driver ...
Indeed, in 1975 Flip was already competing in BTRDA autotests and bumped into, not literally I should add, one of her competitors, called Steve Stringer. Immediately this was not just friendly rivalry but love and over the following 5 years they autotested across the length and breadth of the country, including travelling over to Ireland to compete. From 1976 they shared Steve’s Lotus 7, Flip often taking Lotti, her Cavalier Spaniel with her. On one occasion they arrived at N Weald where the regs clearly stated no dogs were allowed. So Flip persuaded the security guard that Lotti was actually a cat.
Being a country girl, Flip introduced Steve to horses but that wasn’t love at first sight. The first time he rode a horse it dumped him in the forest with a pulled muscle and then ran off. Incidently Steve tells me that this was also the last time he rode a horse.
It was about this time that Charles & I first met Flip on East Anglian road rallies when she started navigating for Des Wenn. Flip was still learning at this stage and we would usually beat them, often because they had broken down and Steve was criss-crossing Norfolk in an effort to find and recover them in the era before mobile phones.
But by 1981 the tables had well and truly turned.
That was the year when few people beat Trevor Smith and Flip when they won the BTRDA National Gold Star Championship. Trevor recalls that Flip was particularly good on pace notes and never looked up. But there was one occasion on Epynt when she did lose her position and did look up. She started to scream with fright and fear “what are you doing, slow down, slow down”. Then a voice came across the intercom “shut up, we always go at this speed it is just that you haven’t noticed it before”.
1981 was also the year that Francis Tuthill & Flip finished a fantastic 12th overall on the RAC Rally, surely a result that many here only dreamed of.
Whilst mentioning a few highlights of this remarkable lady’s motoring activities, we must not omit the year that Flip switched from the co-drivers seat to what I would describe as the other seat. This was the year of the Faberge Fiesta, Find a Lady rally driver contest where Flip drove successfully with Liz Jenner co-driving, now better known to us as Liz Jordan. To the amusement of those watching in Wouldham quarry one day, she chased Roger Clark round a cone, but that was Roger’s fault as he had challenged her to get as close as possible.
With such a variety of skills it is not surprising that she frequently finished in the top 3 of the BTRDA all-rounders championship.
Flip was elected Vice-President of West Essex Car Club for services rendered to the club. This included co-hosting with Charles the very enjoyable and sociable annual grass autotest and barBQ.
I said earlier that Charles and I had met Flip a number of times in the seventies, but it was at the end of the 81 season that Charles got, shall we say, somewhat closer to her.
I remember well that particular evening.
Charles had John Porter as co-driver, I was Service Crew and after the final round of the Gold Star Championship there was a knees-up. Charles was in the mood to celebrate, and as the evening wore on became more animated due to an excess of lubrication. With no champagne available, he resorted to spraying all within reach with the contents of a very heavy, glass soda siphon. Flip came just a tad too close, and as Charles whirled around, the soda siphon connected with her forehead, felling her like a sack of spuds. As was always so, Charles was horrified at what he had done, and spent the rest of the evening ingratiating himself towards Flip. He must have been successful in his efforts, as that night JP slept alone ………. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Flip was a classic product of a farming family – able to take what life brings, and make the best of it, brought up to accept that one has to do what duty requires, but that doing your duty does not mean being subservient. Hers was a strong character, which was essential in both her personal and business life. Being married to Charles would at times require the soothing touch of a mother, at others the patience of a saint. Following Charles’ death, Flip was determined to continue the success of the garage, not only to protect the jobs of a long-serving workforce but also to preserve the reputation that Charles – and his father Dennis before him – had built. It was that sense of duty coming out ……
For Flip, being a mother meant more than just being there for Charlotte, fighting to get the very best for – and out of – her. She was tireless in finding Charlie a school that could help overcome her dyslexia – and which was proven last year by the award of a 2-1 in Commercial Photography. Flip’s love of horses and riding was instrumental in finding a sport for Charlie to take part in that would impress her ultra-competitive father. Charles could make anything on four wheels dance to his tune – but when on four legs Charlie was able literally to leave him standing !!
Flip could look like a million dollars even when mucking out the horse, she sounded like a product of Roedean, but was able to mix effortlessly with the roughs like us in Motor Sport. But her greatest success can be seen here today in the strength of character and no-nonsense attitude that Charlie has displayed since her Mum died. She has been an inspiration.
Flip Golding – so much style, so many attributes, will be so sorely missed by so many.
West Essex Car Club
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West Essex Car Club