People, places and events in the parish's history

Barbara Large MBE

Barbara Large MBE, FRSA, FHUW (1932-2019)

Editor’s note: Barbara Large lived in Southdown Road from 1969 until her death on 4 March 2019.
This  tribute appeared in the Compton & Shawford Parish Magazine for June 2019

For readers who are not familiar with the acronym, FHUW stands for Honorary Fellow of the University of Winchester, awarded to her in 2004.

Barbara Large MBE
Barbara Large with her MBE

MBE, according to Zoe Simpson, one of Barbara’s protegées, stands for “Master of Belief and Encouragement”.

Barbara Large was born Barbara Nelson in Toronto in 1932. Her family moved to Vancouver, where she grew up. She studied English at the University of British Columbia, then took some time out to travel around Europe with a friend. Their route home in the mid-1950s took them by boat from Southampton to New York.

On the same boat, she met a young man called John Large. He was on his way to take up a job with Boeing in Seattle as Chief of their Aircraft Noise Unit. Luckily, Vancouver is only just across the border from Seattle and their relationship could develop.

By the time John Large was enticed back to the UK in 1969 to become Professor of Applied Acoustics at Southampton University, they were married with twin boys. Barbara had recently lost both her parents and had also taken on the care of her mentally handicapped younger brother Pete.

With two small boys as well as Pete to look after, and with John having been called back to the US on business, she had to cope with the discovery that their newly purchased house in Southdown Road, Chinook, had to be fumigated.

In 1973, she and Pete hosted a Coffee morning to raise money for Mencap and for his special school, Greenacres, in the Andover Road. It became an annual event, held on the last Friday of November each year. After Pete’s death in 1984, Barbara carried on the tradition, adding the Luscious Lasagna Lunches (later, Greenacres School merged into Shepherds Down School and Mencap became Winchester GoLD).

After the 2016 Lunch, Barbara wrote, in her typical understated way “Fabulooso! Luscious Lasagna Lovers Overjoyed! 40th Luscious Lasagna Lunch Breaks All Records: £1290.30”.

This would be the last one ever. She had announced the 41st Lasagna Lunch for Friday 24 November 2017, but it never happened because she was by then undergoing chemotherapy.

Barbara had taught for a while at St Swithun’s School. She worked at Winchester Prison and became well-known for her work there devising education programmes for inmates. She then worked at the Haslar Detention Centre, Gosport as Chief Education Officer from 1989 until the beginning of 1998. The centre housed people seeking political asylum – typically around 150. It was for this work that she was awarded the MBE in 1998. Barbara said “I inherited the shell of a building and we set about developing a programme of English as a second language, arts and crafts, international food studies and starting a new library. It was a great surprise to be awarded the MBE for this work. I feel tremendously privileged.”

The 1990s were also a time of great sadness because her son Jeremy died in a tragic climbing accident in 1993 and then her husband, Professor John Large, was killed in a road traffic accident in Otterbourne early in 1998.

Barbara recalled, in a 2016 interview with Allison Symes, that she got her love of reading and writing from her grandfather, who would pick her up from school and take her to the library to choose books.

In 1980, while a tutor at Southampton, she ran the first of her Writers’ Conferences. They gave aspiring writers the chance to hear from the very best practitioners including Douglas Adams, Beryl Bainbridge, Terry Pratchett, Colin Dexter, Sebastian Faulks, Joanne Harris, Julian Fellowes, Carol Ann Duffy and Michael Morpurgo. In 2005 the conferences transferred to University of Winchester and are now the Winchester Writers’ Festival. Her retirement, after 33 years as Conference Director, was marked by a celebratory tea hosted by the Mayor of Winchester in September 2013.

Long-time readers of this magazine will remember the advertisements for the “Pitstop Refuelling Writers’ Weekend Workshops” which she ran in Shawford Parish Hall for many years, covering subjects such as “Writing Marketable Children’s Fiction” and “Creating, Writing, Revising and Marketing Your Novels and Short Stories”.

She worked with Winchester archivist Austin Whitaker on the short 1985 local history booklet, “Compton and Shawford”, and is listed as its joint publisher.

It was typical of Barbara to turn adversity into an opportunity. When the myeloma struck, and she was having chemotherapy, she had to stay indoors to avoid infection. Her large network of local friends formed a rota to bring her meals and inspired her last book: “Scrumptious Recipes Shared with a Pampered Patient”.

Barbara, you were an inspiration to us all.

Memorial Services

In the Unversity Chapel

6 pm Saturday 15 June

The Winchester Writers’ Festival is holding a ‘Celebration of Life’ for Barbara in the chapel on the university campus on Saturday, 15 June from 6 – 7 pm. It is open to the public and all are welcome. However, the chapel isn’t very large and they don’t know how many will be attending from the Writers’ Festival and University. The Vice-Chancellor, Joy Carter, will speak, as will friends and fellow writers and Festival director Sara Gangai. Myra Wilkinson has accepted an invitation to represent her friends from the parish.

In Twyford Church

3:30 pm Thursday 27 June

A memorial service has been arranged for Barbara Large by her son Jonathan.

Barbara now lies in the graveyard at Twyford Church where her husband John and son Jeremy were buried.

The memorial service will take place in Twyford church at 3.30 on Thursday 27th June. We hope that lots of her many friends will be able to attend and join us for the service and then tea, cake and reminiscences in Shawford Parish Hall afterwards.

See also

A Celebratory Retirement Tea for Barbara Large MBE

Barbara’s Book… “Scrumptious Recipes Shared with a Pampered Patient”

Scrumptious Cooking, Charity, and Barbara Large

A Tribute to Barbara Large

Paying Tribute To Barbara Large

About Barbara’s husband, Professor Emeritus John Barry Large

Typical Barbara Large Parish Magazine adverts

From November 2001