Mary Essinger, who died this week, was a life member of LFA, an honour awarded in recognition of her services to the association for many years. She was a woman of many talents, coming from a working class background, leaving Coalville grammar school and working in a factory and promoted to become a member of the dress design department (as described in her book, Mary Quite Contrary. She went on to take Open University courses and to gain a degree in English, to write books and to become a lecturer in Southfields college, Leicester during the time I knew her.
She was a lively and enthusiastic member of LFA committee for many years, acting as minutes secretary, using her skills in writing, and her training in calligraphy. The minutes she took and the reports she beautifully scripted so well for LFA are now safely installed in the Record Office in Wigston.
LFA walks, when she joined in about 1970 were on average for 8 or 10 miles across fields. Each Saturday, Mary was a keen member exploring the countryside, in good company and enjoying the break from being a young mum, with a busy working life.
In 1987 LFA held its centenary and Mary had a big part in planning and carrying out our celebrations. She organised our Victorian tea party walk in Swithland and encouraged all members to come in Victorian dress and she
Mary holding basket
proof read the Well Trodden Path history book of our first hundred years and she was the first spark in our Leicestershire Round 100 mile route around Leicestershire, persuading a team of four people to plan the footpath routes, to walk them and describe them and to collaborate with County Hall to produce the route as we now know it.
Wherever she went and whatever she did, she showed skill, kindness and determination. Her father called her ‘front row Mary’ and the description was apt.
(Many thanks to past president, Heather Macdermid, who has written this memorial)