11th January 1956 - 24th October 2010
Thank-you to everyone who came to say goodbye to Eileen, it means a great deal to Joseph, Lewis and all the family that so many people made the day less difficult.
We have included the words, music and photographs from Eileen's service below. Please follow the links, or click the file icons to download a copy.
The service took place at:
1pm, Friday the 5th of November, 2010
The links below are in the order they were presented.
All the words and poems from the service are here as a ZIP archive (641 KB)
All the photos used in the presentations are available to browse here if you want to pick out a favourite.
You can also download ALL the photos from here as a ZIP archive (25.1 MB)
The following songs should play in your browser, if not then you can 'right click' and select 'Save target as...' to download them.
From the Order of Service
As you all know our mum was a wonderful, intelligent and caring person who touched so many people’s lives, which is clearly shown by all of you here today.
We would like to thank you all for coming not just today but every day.
We truly believe that mum wouldn’t have lasted as long or been as upbeat as she was without the love, company and support that so many showed her throughout her illness.
We ask you to please enjoy this celebration of her life, and remember all the amazing memories you have of her as we know she would have wanted.
There are so many people that we would like to thank for being there for mum as well as us during these difficult times and who we are sure will continue to be there in the future. To all those friends and family who we are referring to (you know who you are) we would just like to say we couldn’t have done it without you.
We would also like to thank both of our Uncles Jim and Steve, along with Karen who went above and beyond every day. Not only to help mum, but to assist and support us in any way they could. Without your support and the support of so many others we don’t know how we would have possibly dealt with everything that has happened.
Everyone is always saying how proud mum would be of us, but I think she would be just as proud of how so many of you have been and continue to be there for us. Nothing could ever replace our mum, but the wealth of amazing support from friends and family that she has left behind for us goes a little way to try. We know she cared for all of you deeply, as do we and we can never thank you enough for the things you have done.
We would also like to welcome everyone to the Crown at Playhatch after the service to raise a glass and to share happy memories of a truly remarkable woman.
|Joseph & Lewis
Biography: Eileen McMillan
Eileen was born on the 11th Jan 1956. She came from humble stock in the working class area of Liverpool. Her Father Bill Edwards was a baker and her mother Evelyn was the homemaker. Eileen was the only daughter but she had an older brother Steve. Now there are two types of Liverpool inhabitants they either support the team that plays in red or the team that plays in blue and Eileen had a lifelong affinity with the red-clad Liverpool Football Club. Her contact with the home town was always sustained however and despite the distance, the Edwards the Foys and the Maddens, though remaining in Liverpool, continue to be an active part of the extended family.
On 14th October 1957 Eileen's Baby Brother Jim arrived to complete this branch of the Edwards family and of course displaced Eileen as the “baby”.
In 1963 the family relocated to Hereford and a life time friendship with the Kadwells began.
In 1968 the family moved again - this time to the High Wycombe area, where Eileen started senior school at High Wycombe School for Girls but she was not inspired by school and gained a reputation as the class comic and chief mischief maker, ably assisted by Helen Kingsbury.
In 1971 as 15 year old schoolgirl she met future husband Chris and a year later she left school with minimal ‘O’ Levels and attended Secretarial College.
In February 1974 at tender age of 18 she married Chris and started work as Secretary in a Solicitors' office in High Wycombe.
Around this time she also met and made lifelong friends with Linda and Lesley. Various secretarial jobs followed until at the beginning of the 1980s Eileen made what proved to be a life changing decision to join Avco as 24 year old PA to the Finance Director and during her 19 year career there she replaced her boss in that position
She was initially motivated by her then boss, Jamie, to qualify as an accountant, and in her first exams was one of the top ten candidates in the country
At this time too she also acquired some more long time friends such as Dawn, and Diana. (apologies if there were others I have not mentioned).
In January 1989 her first son Joseph Daniel McMillan arrived followed in January 1991 by Lewis George McMillan and Eileen became a doting mother.
In 1998 she was divorced from Chris yet in a way acquired more “children” in the form of a succession of Au-Pairs who are taken under Eileen’s wing. Notably Brazilian Raquel, Turkish Esra and Croatian Dejan who remain in contact to this day.
At this time she becomes involved with school life as Governor and met a new friend Katherine Miller.
In 1999 she left Avco and joined the credit card start-up called NextCard. This was an exciting period but NextCard was wound up in 2001 although she still kept in touch with NextCarders.
She now joined GMAC for the first time gaining international reputation as highly competent member of staff.
Two years later she was Headhunted by Lloyds into a senior rôle in London. She
loved the job but hated commuting into London every day. I think there are a
number of friends from Lloyds present today.
In 2004 she achieved a life long ambition by going on Safari in Africa with her sons Joseph and Lewis.
In 2005 she was head-hunted back to GMAC's Bracknell operation as the only female board member. There may be one or two from GMAC present.
In summer 2008 she put severe headaches down to stresses of her high pressure financial role but a few months later she was admitted to Hospital and in December 2008 she was diagnosed with and an aggressive brain tumour and at 9pm on Christmas Eve 2008 she underwent emergency brain surgery
She was discharged on Boxing day however and the family spent a brilliant day together in Twyford. A testament to the amazing courage which was to carry Eileen through the next two years. She refused to accept defeat and fought every inch of the way and as a result lived longer and more fruitfully than most with this diagnosis.
Her major concern during this period was other people, especially her sons, brothers and their respective families. She didn't want to be a burden or have people worrying about her. Accordingly she preferred to keep news of her illness to her most immediate circle of family and friends
In March 2009 Joseph abandoned his University course to be able to spend time with his mother - very much against Eileen’s wishes but everyone except Eileen thought Joseph made the right choice.
On her last holiday to Norway she failed in her attempt to catch the northern lights. and quite possibly this is the only significant thing she ever set her mind on and didn’t ultimately achieve.
At the end of 2009 Jim, Steve, Eileen and respective families spent a very pleasant Christmas in a cottage in the new forest, it seemed like old times although all were conscious that Christmas might never be quite the same again.
Eileen passed away on October the 24th with her sons at her side and with the love and support of family and many of the friends here today.
McMillan and Edwards Families
When Eileen’s family asked us to speak on behalf of her friends, we were extremely honoured, but also at the same time worried that we would not be able to adequately convey how special and loved Eileen was by her many friends.
They say a friend is “someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are” – and that truly was Eileen, she always accepted her friends, just the way they were.
We remember so many stories to illustrate how special Eileen was, and I’m sure many of these will be shared by you later today, how she treasured and admired Lesley who she loved like a sister, and who amazed and inspired her, to Lynda who she was crazy about, who she would stay up all night gambling in Vegas with, and then lecture the next day about Lynda’s extravagant lifestyle.
How she loved spending time with Katharine, and taking Ellie and Isobel shopping and birthday treats to the movies, gossiping and catching up with Diana, never forgetting to see how Chloe and Harry were doing.
When we think about Eileen, there are two very distinct personalities:
As well as being a goddess and having an alter ego, Eileen still managed to have a unique way of connecting people, keeping you up to date on what was going on with everyone she cared about, so you also felt part of Eileen’s special group of friends.
I remember going to the hospice one day, Joseph said to me oh by the way Louise called from GMAC to say she was visiting. Shortly after I arrived a woman came in, gave Eileen a big hug and we all started chatting, a little while later another woman came in said hello and introduced herself as Louise from GMAC, as I had spent the last 5 minutes talking to this woman thinking she was Louise, I turned to her and apologised, No she said I’m Joan, Oh in that case I said – “how is your Mother, Eileen told me she was in hospital?” Such was the caring nature of Eileen that even lying in the hospice, she would still be concerned for other people in her life.
When I left Reading to live in the States I knew our friendship wouldn’t change a bit, and it didn’t, I still knew what was happening with her, the boys, friends we both knew, the Avco UK gang, Rob, Jamie, Tony, Susan and Andy and so many more who would take too long to name individually but I know most of you are here today.
Even though I’ve never met Lisa from Lloyds, I know about her and her darling daughter Emily who Eileen loved.
I feel I know Simon and Godfrey, Louise and Jackie, and many more from GMAC even though I have met them briefly, or some not at all.
The common theme I think we are seeing here with Avco, Lloyds or GMAC or even in her personal life with her Pre-natal or Maj Jong groups is that so many people have met, connected or been touched by Eileen’s friendship, grace, humour, wit, intelligence, laughter, kindness and courage.
Many of Eileen’s friends would turn to her for advice in times of trouble. She would listen, empathize, ask a few probing questions and help you find an answer and give you a hug to go with it.
In times of joy she would also be the first to celebrate with friends, send cards, raise a toast or travelling miles to attend weddings, christening and other special events.
She would share the love, joy and pride she had in all of Joseph and Lewis’s accomplishments, be it the school plays, exams results or little jokes they told. To Eileen they were her life and she was more than happy to share the memories with you.
Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.
Eileen – From all of your friends, we love you and won’t forget you.
And as you would say – It’s all good!!
I’d Like (read by Steph and Michael)
I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways, of happy times, laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun of happy memories that I leave, when life is done.
Steve's Words (read by James and Michael)
Words are wholly inadequate to express how I feel at the loss of my smart, funny and affectionate sister.
Hence some photographic memories. Some of the photographs are not of the best quality but they are meant to trigger memories rather than be the finest examples of the photographic art. Thanks to those who contributed photographs, apologies for those not used and people not featured as you can see we would have been here all night. There will be more to see at the crown.
The photo presentation was played at this point
All the photos used in the presentation are available to browse and download here if you want to pick out a favourite.
For me the quote from Stephanie "Thanks for all the Champagne and taxis" sums Eileen up. The thanks because we all had something to be grateful to Eileen for, the taxis because it felt like a real treat being with her and the champagne because Eileen certainly sparkled in every aspect of her life.
Eileen was my younger sister and Jim the youngest of the three of us, however as a result of the counting system employed by Eileen in recent years Jim, has in fact become older than Eileen, I suppose you could call it creative accounting.
Whatever number she used, I know it's about 30 years too soon for us to be stood here. And, whilst I am sincerely grateful for the time we had with Eileen, I cannot help but feel prematurely robbed of her company.
Karen and I are deeply touched by the thanks expressed by Joseph and Lewis, we can only say from our point of view it never seemed enough and like this presentation it was a labour of love. Then again we do now have our own groove in the M4.
Once diagnosed I used to call her every day, this was met initially with some wry amusement because that is what she had done when Dad was ill. I like to think she grew to look forward to these daily chats - I certainly did - and it was a desperately sad day when we made the unspoken, but mutual decision, that they were no longer possible.
I do want to acknowledge the care Eileen received, Dr Griffiths the brain surgeon who not only prolonged her life but saved it on Christmas Eve 2008, Dr Charlton her oncologist and his dedicated team at Royal Berks, The McMillan and District nurses, Dr Boyle her GP and in her final days all the staff at the Duchess of Kent House. Our profound thanks to all the professionals who gave us very precious extra months with Eileen.
There are many other people to thank, but thanks was their least motivation - they simply cared about Eileen so I can only add my appreciation to everyone, friends and family alike, who supported Eileen not just recently but throughout her life.
Lastly I have a couple of things to say to some particular family members
To Joseph and Lewis, Jim and I are only too painfully aware we can't begin to replace your Mum so I guess you can look forward to a future with more beer and mushroom pizza but possibly fewer hugs. Although I suspect Karen, Dawn, Lynda, Lesley, Katherine et al may have their own ideas on that topic.
[Spontaneous addition from Michael - I think what my dad is trying to say lads, is that You'll Never Walk Alone…]
We also know there may be more difficult times and conversations ahead but are equally confident because of the family bonds we have, we will get through them.
To Jim and Sue, thanks for being there, being a true brother and friend and providing support in the darkest moments.
To Karen. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Finally to Eileen, goodbye darling. We will never forget.
When We Remember
You can shed tears that she is gone,
Or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she’s gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she’d want; smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
So long and thanks for all the Champagne and taxis.