Devoted Crawley couple die within days of each other

jpco 14-1-15 Vera and Charles Leo  (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150113-105205001
jpco 14-1-15 Vera and Charles Leo (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150113-105205001

A devoted couple who had known each other for more than 80 years have died 17 days apart.

Vera and Charles Leo, both 98, of Langley Green, met when they were teenagers and had been married for 75 years.

They passed away in East Surrey Hospital – Vera on December 13 and Charles on December 30.

The couple had been taken to hospital after they were found laying on the floor of their dining room, both suffering broken hips.

Their daughter, Linda Carr, said the room had been adapted into a bedroom for her father, who was suffering prostate cancer.

The family believe Vera may have fallen first and Charles did the same when he tried to help his wife.

Vera was born in Bromley in 1916, while Charles was born in Wandsworth. The couple met in Streatham aged 15 or 16 and used to go cycling together.

Linda said: “They used to go out a lot to the country and they even cycled to Cheddar Gorge.”

An engineer at heart and by training, Charles soon left push bikes behind and moved on to motorbikes – with Vera clinging on behind him as they explored the countryside together.

Vera’s courage on the bike could come as no surprise to her family.

This was a woman who, during the Second World War, refused to go down into the air raid shelters in London unless she could take her beloved Scottie dog, Mack, with her.

Charles eventually added a sidecar to his bike and Linda shared early memories of riding in it as the family took camping trips in Switzerland and Italy.

True new towners, the couple moved to West Green in 1951 with Charles’ company FH Bourner (Supataps) Ltd, which was based in Manor Royal.

Vera worked for P&B Engineering, also in Manor Royal, for 25 years until her retirement in 1976.

Vera and Charles spent their final days as they had spent most of their lives – close to each other.

Linda said Vera died of a heart attack.

She added: “I don’t think it really registered with dad when we told him mum had died.

“Under the circumstances, it was good in a way for them to go more or less together.”

The couple were survived by Linda and her husband Denis, granddaughters Helen, Lisa and Natalie, 11 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.