Flower seller was part of many lives

Beth Howes, left, and Jackie Clark at their flower stall in the town centre

Beth Howes, left, and Jackie Clark at their flower stall in the town centre

First published in News Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @BerenCross

FAMILY tributes have been paid to Beth Howes, a stalwart of Swindon’s market trade for more than 30 years, after she lost her battle with cancer.

Beth, 54, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in May and passed away on August 20 with family around her in her garden, where she wanted to be.

Although she never moved away from Whitley, Reading, Beth worked a flower stall in Swindon town centre for more than 30 years in various locations.

She was well known among the homeless community, whom she helped wherever possible, and might be best remembered for her resistance to Swindon Council’s decision to banish street traders in 2010.

Her sister Debbie Selby, 56, moved from their family home in Reading to Swindon 17 years ago, and lives in Mulcaster Avenue.

“Floristry and markets was her life. She came to work in Fleet Street market about 30 years ago and commuted every day to and from the town,” she said.

“She fought for a lot of causes. Obviously the street trading, when the council tried to move them all out of the town centre despite the fact they’d all been there 20-odd years.

“Thousands of people signed their petition but obviously to no avail. She also covered all the lampposts in The Parade with yellow ribbons when Madeleine McCann went missing.

“She loved children and would work to fundraise for children’s charities. She loved people, she was very much a people’s person.

“Anybody in need or less fortunate than her, she’d take them under her wing and try to help them.

“There were lots of homeless people she would help. She would buy them food, coffees and teas, as well as finding them beds for the night.”

In 2004, Beth was diagnosed with breast cancer and she was forced to take time off from the flower stall, but she fought it and returned to work.

She was working with the Flower Barrow in The Parade when the council announced its plans to remove street traders and, despite losing, co-ordinated a petition with more than 2,000 signatures.

After being moved from the town centre, Beth took her stall to the far side of the underpass in Fleming Way, but a low footfall meant it did not last and this led her to start work as a carer in Reading, which Debbie said she enjoyed.

She said: “She did it for 30 years but I’m not even sure if it was the flowers. I think it was the people and being outside. She loved meeting people. She dealt with weddings, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries and deaths. She was so much a part of everyone’s lives in Swindon.

“That’s the relationship she absolutely loved.”

Beth’s funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church in Reading on Wednesday, September 10 at 2.30pm.

Comments (16)

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8:12am Mon 1 Sep 14

silvergran says...

RIP - I remember this lovely lady well, so sad that she was moved from her pitch like that, it was a focal point for many in the town and was greatly missed by a lot of people.
RIP - I remember this lovely lady well, so sad that she was moved from her pitch like that, it was a focal point for many in the town and was greatly missed by a lot of people. silvergran
  • Score: 36

10:01am Mon 1 Sep 14

6petals says...

I am sorry to hear about Beth. I worked in a shop that looked out at the lovely flower stall. No matter what the weather there was always a cheery word from the flower girls. They used to come into our shop, and we bought flowers from them. My condolences to her family and friends,
I am sorry to hear about Beth. I worked in a shop that looked out at the lovely flower stall. No matter what the weather there was always a cheery word from the flower girls. They used to come into our shop, and we bought flowers from them. My condolences to her family and friends, 6petals
  • Score: 27

10:59am Mon 1 Sep 14

bronchi says...

My beautiful brave sister, this is one battle that was just too much for her. I miss her wicked sense of humour and most of all I miss our daily chats when we would put the world to right. Beth loved the people of Swindon, no matter what their circumstances she always took time out to listen and lend a helping hand, her happy go lucky nature captured the hearts of many who would visit her stall on a regular basis. I don't know how I'm ever going to laugh again! love and miss you so much, your big sister Debbie xxx
My beautiful brave sister, this is one battle that was just too much for her. I miss her wicked sense of humour and most of all I miss our daily chats when we would put the world to right. Beth loved the people of Swindon, no matter what their circumstances she always took time out to listen and lend a helping hand, her happy go lucky nature captured the hearts of many who would visit her stall on a regular basis. I don't know how I'm ever going to laugh again! love and miss you so much, your big sister Debbie xxx bronchi
  • Score: 64

11:20am Mon 1 Sep 14

Wiltshirereader says...

A lovely lady indeed - had many a joke with her whilst buying her gorgeous flowers. Why oh why did the Council stop the flower sellers? It was always a pleasure to look at the array of beautiful flowers in an otherwise dreary town centre! Maybe they should have a re-think - anything to brighten the place up!
A lovely lady indeed - had many a joke with her whilst buying her gorgeous flowers. Why oh why did the Council stop the flower sellers? It was always a pleasure to look at the array of beautiful flowers in an otherwise dreary town centre! Maybe they should have a re-think - anything to brighten the place up! Wiltshirereader
  • Score: 28

12:09pm Mon 1 Sep 14

lorna-anne says...

Im in total shock. Beth was always a happy loving lady she made time to chat with me and talk to my boys.
used to work in the market years ago whereI first met Beth. Lots of memories!
Thinking of you Debbie, Jackie and all the the family x Lorna x
Im in total shock. Beth was always a happy loving lady she made time to chat with me and talk to my boys. used to work in the market years ago whereI first met Beth. Lots of memories! Thinking of you Debbie, Jackie and all the the family x Lorna x lorna-anne
  • Score: 15

12:10pm Mon 1 Sep 14

lorna-anne says...

bronchi wrote:
My beautiful brave sister, this is one battle that was just too much for her. I miss her wicked sense of humour and most of all I miss our daily chats when we would put the world to right. Beth loved the people of Swindon, no matter what their circumstances she always took time out to listen and lend a helping hand, her happy go lucky nature captured the hearts of many who would visit her stall on a regular basis. I don't know how I'm ever going to laugh again! love and miss you so much, your big sister Debbie xxx
Thoughts are with you all Debbie x Lorna x
[quote][p][bold]bronchi[/bold] wrote: My beautiful brave sister, this is one battle that was just too much for her. I miss her wicked sense of humour and most of all I miss our daily chats when we would put the world to right. Beth loved the people of Swindon, no matter what their circumstances she always took time out to listen and lend a helping hand, her happy go lucky nature captured the hearts of many who would visit her stall on a regular basis. I don't know how I'm ever going to laugh again! love and miss you so much, your big sister Debbie xxx[/p][/quote]Thoughts are with you all Debbie x Lorna x lorna-anne
  • Score: 13

12:12pm Mon 1 Sep 14

The Real Librarian says...

I am very sorry to hear this.

I passed the stall often and bought flowers from her a lot (although probably less than the wife would like.)

She was a character and an asset to the town, and the council's treatment of her and the other stall holders was a disgrace. Those stalls brightened the place up and the stallholders gave the town centre a bit of personality and individuality.

I have to be at work on the 10th but I will have a quiet moment at half two.
I am very sorry to hear this. I passed the stall often and bought flowers from her a lot (although probably less than the wife would like.) She was a character and an asset to the town, and the council's treatment of her and the other stall holders was a disgrace. Those stalls brightened the place up and the stallholders gave the town centre a bit of personality and individuality. I have to be at work on the 10th but I will have a quiet moment at half two. The Real Librarian
  • Score: 28

12:23pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Alan Bast*rd says...

Condolences to the family from me.
Swindon will miss her. RIP
Condolences to the family from me. Swindon will miss her. RIP Alan Bast*rd
  • Score: 2

12:59pm Mon 1 Sep 14

EmmBee says...

We bought our wedding flowers from Beth, people were astonished when we told them "we got them from outside Debenhams" but they were superb. Very sorry to hear this news.
We bought our wedding flowers from Beth, people were astonished when we told them "we got them from outside Debenhams" but they were superb. Very sorry to hear this news. EmmBee
  • Score: 16

2:10pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Lorry61 says...

I was shocked when I learned the sad news, a lady with a huge heart and always there to meet you with a smile, may you continue to shine bright, rest in peace, my heart goes out to your family and friends.
I was shocked when I learned the sad news, a lady with a huge heart and always there to meet you with a smile, may you continue to shine bright, rest in peace, my heart goes out to your family and friends. Lorry61
  • Score: 14

5:24pm Mon 1 Sep 14

emilymayhew says...

bronchi wrote:
My beautiful brave sister, this is one battle that was just too much for her. I miss her wicked sense of humour and most of all I miss our daily chats when we would put the world to right. Beth loved the people of Swindon, no matter what their circumstances she always took time out to listen and lend a helping hand, her happy go lucky nature captured the hearts of many who would visit her stall on a regular basis. I don't know how I'm ever going to laugh again! love and miss you so much, your big sister Debbie xxx
And a very lovely lady she was she should be very proud of of her self.I'm so sorry for your loss and my thoughts go out to you and your family at this sad time x
[quote][p][bold]bronchi[/bold] wrote: My beautiful brave sister, this is one battle that was just too much for her. I miss her wicked sense of humour and most of all I miss our daily chats when we would put the world to right. Beth loved the people of Swindon, no matter what their circumstances she always took time out to listen and lend a helping hand, her happy go lucky nature captured the hearts of many who would visit her stall on a regular basis. I don't know how I'm ever going to laugh again! love and miss you so much, your big sister Debbie xxx[/p][/quote]And a very lovely lady she was she should be very proud of of her self.I'm so sorry for your loss and my thoughts go out to you and your family at this sad time x emilymayhew
  • Score: 10

7:24pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Jewels-1976 says...

I'm so shocked and very saddened to hear the news about Beth. I always got my flowers from her. She was such a lovely jolly lady even if it was tipping down with rain and freezing cold. Many of my colleagues received her bouquets. She would always make them perfect for the person and occasion. I didn't realise how much she did for others as well. What an amazing person!! Her family must be so proud. Beth will certainly be missed by many people xx
I'm so shocked and very saddened to hear the news about Beth. I always got my flowers from her. She was such a lovely jolly lady even if it was tipping down with rain and freezing cold. Many of my colleagues received her bouquets. She would always make them perfect for the person and occasion. I didn't realise how much she did for others as well. What an amazing person!! Her family must be so proud. Beth will certainly be missed by many people xx Jewels-1976
  • Score: 10

9:02pm Mon 1 Sep 14

roberto5 says...

Rest in Peace Beth, I bought flowers from you many times, you were a bright little light that brightened up the town.
Rest in Peace Beth, I bought flowers from you many times, you were a bright little light that brightened up the town. roberto5
  • Score: 7

12:20am Tue 2 Sep 14

shaz47 says...

Such a shock to here this sad news Beth made me many of different flowers for different occasions may she now be the flower girl in the sky rest in peace Angel I will miss you heaps xxxxxxxxxxxx
Such a shock to here this sad news Beth made me many of different flowers for different occasions may she now be the flower girl in the sky rest in peace Angel I will miss you heaps xxxxxxxxxxxx shaz47
  • Score: 3

1:34pm Tue 2 Sep 14

duckon says...

A Heart of Gold R.I.P.
A Heart of Gold R.I.P. duckon
  • Score: 2

5:40pm Sat 6 Sep 14

GIovannaG says...

A lovely lady and friend, I always bought flowers from her each week and for birthdays, both baskets and bouquets and the were always beautiful, my mother loved her flowers, we asked her to do them for mum's funeral and were delighted with them, always made them special. I have missed her cheerfulness and was saddened to hear of her passing. May she rest in peace.

GG
A lovely lady and friend, I always bought flowers from her each week and for birthdays, both baskets and bouquets and the were always beautiful, my mother loved her flowers, we asked her to do them for mum's funeral and were delighted with them, always made them special. I have missed her cheerfulness and was saddened to hear of her passing. May she rest in peace. GG GIovannaG
  • Score: 0

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