(5th October 1910  -  18th March 2000)






Mother of W.P. 'Bill' Richardson


Ada Gilliland was the fifth child of John Edward Gilliland and his wife Ada Isabel (nee Lee). Her older siblings were Vera, Rena, Gladys and Jack. She was born in the family home at number 2, Flag Row, Sunniside near Crook in County Durham. The house is still lived in although the street is now Flag Terrace. Her father was a miner and, before she was married, her mother had been a teacher.

She was recorded on the 1911 census, the form was completed by her father and he stated that Ada was 5 months old and she, her brother and three sisters lived with their Mam and Dad at Sunniside, Tow Law, Co. Durham.

When Ada was about 5 years old the family left Sunniside and moved to Chester-le-Street. The move was prompted by a career change for her father. He left the mines and became a political agent for the Labour Party. At first, the family lived in Fife Street but then moved a small distance to 49 Bullion Lane which stands (still) at the junction with Second Avenue and items of mail were addressed there as well as to Bullion Lane, but it is the latter which is in the Electoral Registers of the time.

Soon, possibly immediately after the move, Ada would have started at primary school, but it is not known which school. In September 1922, she entered the secondary school and was a good pupil. Her report book is still in the family and in the final one for the summer term in 1929, the final comment is 'An excellent record throughout her seven years at school'. On leaving the school, Ada entered a two-year course at Neville Cross Teacher Training College. There is no doubt that she was very gregarious and she made friends at Neville Cross and remained in contact with them throughout the rest of her life. She began teaching in 1931 and left Lumley Mixed School in 1935.

As observed in the page on William Pallister Richardson, the Gillilands were friendly with the Richardsons of Durham as a joint family outing in 1925 to Gilsland attests. And there was a strong attraction between the two young folk. Ada's move to the college, which was on the western edge of Durham, in 1929 must have a very good one in more that one way. Bill had just started his degree course in Newcastle, but he was commuting from Durham, so opportunities to be together were available. It is likely that after taking up her teaching career, Ada returned to the family home in Bullion Lane. At that time, her Aunt Sarah (Lee) lived with the family. She was a primary school teacher who had moved down from Sunniside a few years before and continued to live with the Gillilands until her death in March 1933. Around the same time, Bill Richardson, having completed his degree and a teaching course, moved into digs in Third Avenue. Although this wasn't the house next door, it was more or less over the back garden fence from 49 Bullion Lane.

So the romance blossomed and at some point the couple became engaged. They bought a house on the north-west side of Chester-le-Street (quite close to Usworth where Bill had been born). And they got married on Easter Saturday 1935, which was on April 20th. Having got married, off they went on their honeymoon to London, in a hotel just off Russell Square. (It is a moot point as to whether either of them had been to London before, although Ada's sister Gladys was there for her honeymoon in 1929.)
It isn't known for sure (yet) but it is likely that on her marriage, Ada was unable to continue teaching and would have been the home-maker. During the early years of their marriage, there were some holidays recorded. One was at the newly opened Butlin's holiday camp in Skegness and another with the Holiday Fellowship in Lyme Regis (in 1939). The late 1930s were stormy times and once war had begun, decisions had to be made. The upshot was that her young husband joined the RAF and disappeared to North Africa for four years and in those days there was no home leave or certainty of any happy reunion. However, the rules about teaching changed and Ada was back in the classroom once more. Correspondence and photographs exist and they came through the dark days and Bill returned to England in the summer of 1944. Though Bill remained in the RAF for some time, leave was available and on May 31st 1945, Ada gave birth to a son. He was named William Pallister (as were his father, grandfather and a great-uncle).

These must have been very happy years but Ada's husband wanted to advance his career. So in the autumn of 1948, the family moved to a converted RAF camp near Lytham St Annes. Although this was just for two years, they made friends and kept in touch with them for many years after. In 1950, they were again on the move. Bill had been appointed as headmaster of a secondary modern boys school in Halesowen. For three years, they lived in a three-story house, in Harborne, a suburb of Birmingham but in 1953, they moved to a newly built house on the west of Halesowen. Sadly, doing these early years, Ada's parents died, her mother first followed very soon afterwards by her father.

So they settled in, Ada was able to take on some teaching work. There were several short spells, some in primary schools but in due course, she took on a permanent post in a secondary modern school in Halesowen. Both Ada and Bill were very active in the Moose organisation and she supported him in his role as head-master and also as a Rotarian. She was a regular blood donor and had a passion for knitting and they both took active parts in the National Union of Teachers with several trips to annual conferences. So life must have seemed very good, a son doing well at school, numerous family holidays and visits to her family in the North East. In due course, in 1963, young Bill went off to university in Manchester and did well but, much to Ada's chagrin, he did not become a high powered business executive but he developed a passion for teaching. In December 1968, young Bill married Krystyna Pospieszalska who he had met at university and they settled into a house in Cheadle Hulme. After five years of teaching, the itchy feet set in and young Bill took up post as head of mathematics at Elgin Academy, much too far away for Ada's liking. However, in 1971, Bill retired from his headship and Ada also retired so they had more time at their disposal. They bought a touring caravan and also had holidays overseas but, after a year to two decided that they wanted to be nearer their son. So in the spring of 1974, they moved to a village called Lhanbryde on the edge of Elgin. They had a nice little cottage and things must have seemed set fair for them but, very suddenly and out of the blue, on July 24th, Ada's husband died.

This was a massive blow, but in true style, Ada picked herself up. Bill had been the car driver and any attempts by Ada to learn had been short-lived. But Krys and Bill bullied and cajoled her into having another try. A mini-automatic was bought and in 1975 the driving test was passed! This opened up her life again. She could visit friends near and far with several trips to the family in Durham. She was able to help chauffeur youngsters around. She assisted as a driver for meals-on-wheels and it should be recalled that all this was going on well after passing birthday number 65.

So life went on but as 65 turned to 75 and then 80, she began to fail. It was imperceptible at first but gradually became more apparent. She was still able to live on her own but her mobility was reduced and then in 1995, she fell in her cottage and was unable to get up, so was on a cold floor all night. Fortunately, Bill was down the next morning but she needed to be in hospital and assessments showed that she would have been unsafe to return to live on her own. So, she moved, somewhat unwillingly, into a very good care home in Elgin. Krys and Bill visited regularly and she was able to be taken out and even stay at Kintail from time to time. But in March 2000, she fell again and died in hospital very soon afterwards and this was followed by cremation at Broadley. Had she survived a few more months, she would have been 90.

As had her husband, Ada led a very full life from a beginning as a miner's daughter in a tiny house which was really very humble. But she and many others of her family were fired by a passion to keep going on and do things for themselves and also for the benefit of others. And this she did in wonderful style.