From Tiananmen Square to Crawley – the life of Ivy

Ivy Pateman SUS-150429-094759001
Ivy Pateman SUS-150429-094759001

A family has said farewell to a woman who was present at one of the most defining moments in recent history.

Ivy Pateman died on April 23, shortly after celebrating her 89th birthday.

She left her family with memories of her tales of travel and adventure, which included she and her husband, Bill, being evacuated from China during the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.

Ivy and Bill had been part of Crawley life since the new town was constructed – and Bill was one of the men who built the shops at Langley Green Parade.

They were well known at Crawley Athletics Club where Ivy took care of the catering and Bill judged the javelin during the years their son, Bob, competed as a cross-country runner.

Bob remembered the moment Ivy and Bill threw themselves into club life after a visit from manager, Tom Linton, who stopped by at their home in Langley Green.

He said: “They went from doing nothing but watching Steptoe and Son for years and then he came to the door and introduced himself and suddenly they had a social life.”

That social life saw Ivy and Bill’s make friends at home and abroad, with Bill’s job as a loader at British Caledonian enabling them to embrace their love of travel. They visited the USA, Indonesia and Tansania – but it was their trips to China which proved most memorable and not always for the best of reasons.

Bob was working there when his parents came to visit in 1989 shortly before the massacre at Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing as China’s military tried to stamp out an ongoing student protest.

Bob said: “They were evacuated almost straight away because they were tourists but I had to wait until my company gave the OK to leave.”

On another trip to China, Ivy suffered a stroke and was severely ill in hospital for a week – but that didn’t stop her returning the following year.

The most memorable trip to country, though, was for their 45th wedding anniversary, which they celebrated on the Great Wall of China before being serenaded by the British Ambassador at a Ball.

Ivy and Bill met in London and married in 1953. She had been evacuated during the Second World War and spent much of her teenage years picking hops in Kent.

That work ethic stayed with her and she became a talented dressmaker, producing wedding dresses for family and friends and once staying up all night to complete a gown for her sister’s big day.

She worked as the tea lady at Rediffusion, Manor Royal, staying on for eight years after retirement age.

Ivy was widowed in 2008 but was able to fend for herself until a few days before her death.