Chichester: fond memories of Barbara

Barbara
Barbara

Personal tributes are flooding in following the death of one of Chichester’s admired and much-loved figures, Barbara Mosse.

A former lecturer in law and business at Chichester College, and popular secondary school teacher, Barbara also worked tirelessly and enthusiastically for the local community.

Among her many voluntary roles, she was chairman of Fishbourne Playing Fields Association, deputy captain of Fishbourne Guides, secretary of the Parochial Church Council and governor of Bishop Tufnell Infant and Junior Schools in Felpham, chairman of Chichester Scope and a volunteer for the Citizens Advice Bureau. She died at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester with her daughters at her side, aged 83.

Barbara’s three daughters - Kate Mosse, Caroline Grainge and Beth Huxley - put together this tribute:

Born Barbara Mary Towlson in September 1931, in the shadow of the Woolwich Arsenal, she was the daughter of the late Lieutenant Harold and Alice Towlson. An outstanding student, her childhood and education were disrupted by the outbreak of war. She moved from Greenwich to Blackheath, then was evacuated first to Wales, then to Yorkshire - where she attended Bradford High School for Girls. When Barbara returned to London after the war, she turned down a university place in order to make a contribution to family finances.

It was when working in a solicitors office that she met her husband-to-be, Richard Mosse. A former Captain in the Welsh Guards, Richard had been part of the liberation force of Brussels during World War II, he had worked as an actor and writer on his return to England before being called to the Bar. They married in May 1954 and lived in Cheam, before moving to Sussex in the early 1960s when Richard was invited to join the Chichester law firm Rapers. This prompted a shared lifelong commitment to Chichester Festival Theatre- where Richard was Company Secretary for 30 years - where Barbara attended almost every press night and talk.

Barbara embraced Fishbourne village life. She joined the Young Wives, was one of the volunteers on the excavation of Fishbourne Roman Palace in 1960s - putting up many students and young archaeologists working on the dig - was one of the founder members of the Fishbourne Playing Fields Association, finally becoming Chairman. As Lieutenant of the Fishbourne Guides, Barbara was keenly involved in the annual ‘Gang Show’ productions and also the prize-winning Fishbourne ‘Floats’ for Gala Day: on one occasion, she appeared herself as Nefertiti! When she and Richard left Fishbourne after 25 years, a road was named after them in honour of their service to the village.

Combining a highly successful career as a law lecturer and teacher of business studies with raising a young family, Barbara also dedicated time to the Samaritans and the Citizens Advice Bureau, as well as serving as Chairman of the Chichester branch of Scope. Much in demand as a speaker for local groups - including Probus, Rotary and the WI - Barbara was known for her wit, her knowledge and for her ability to make any subject interesting.

Having made the move from Fishbourne to Felpham after her husband’s retirement in 1998, Barbara immediately threw herself into making a contribution to their new village. She became Secretary to the Parochial Church Council and served as a Governor at Bishop Tuffnell Schools.

Barbara had a gift for friendship and companionship. A woman of great kindness and elegance, she had a wonderful sense of humour and adventure. She spent her 50th birthday in the sands outside Alexandria in Egypt; in her 60s, she learnt to tap dance and travelled to New York and to Israel, Syria, Jordan and Ephesus with the Art Group; in her 70s, she indulged her passion for horse racing (and had a part share in a racehorse) and continuing love of theatre; in her 80s, having been recently widowed, she still enjoyed going to the Goodwood Revival - as recently as September 2014 had taken a turn around Goodwood Racing track in her nephew’s MG - had begun volunteering at Pallant House Gallery, sang in two choirs and the Bosham Old Timers. A demon crossword fanatic - and devotee of Golden Age Musicals - Barbara’s energy was boundless and legendary - in the months before her death, she had visited the Giants’ Causeway in Northern Ireland, been present at the Gala Re-Opening of CFT and taken a cruise along the Danube.

Most of all, Barbara was passionately proud of her family. She nursed her beloved husband Richard with unstinting care and devotion through a long and debilitating illness until his death in 2011. She adored her three daughters - Kate, Caroline and Elizabeth - as well as her sons-in-law, her ten grandchildren, four nephews and nieces and four great grandchildren. A brilliant, vibrant woman - who lived life to the full - Barbara was beloved of all those who knew her and will be terribly missed.

The funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church, Felpham, on Wednesday, January 14 at 12 noon. Family flowers only. Donations, if desired, to the Parkinson’s Society, c/o Edward White & Son.