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Barming mourns the cactus lady

By Alan Smith

A popular former resident of Barming has died.

Lucy Wickham had lived in Fant Lane for 49 years, and only moved away at the end of April to a bungalow in Beccles, Suffolk, to be nearer her daughters.

She was 91.

Lucy Wickham (3012081)
Lucy Wickham (3012081)

She was known for her enormous love of cacti - a passion she first developed in the 1950s - which she collected and grew in three greenhouses. She was even known to travel to Arizona to collect cactus seeds.

An only child, she was born Lucy Oxley in Snodland in 1926. She met her husband-to-be Bill on the train while travelling to art college in Chatham before the Second World War. The couple married in 1949 after Bill was demobbed from the Navy

The couple lived initially in Tovil, where Mr Wickham worked for Reeds at the Tovil and Bridge paper-mills.

They had two daughters, Gillian and Allison.

When her husband took early retirement in 1983 and decided to take up adult education, Mrs Wickham went back to the art classes that had been interrupted by the war and became a good painter and illustrator.

She travelled all round the country as a member of the British Cactus and Succulent Society, was a member of several lunch clubs, and even learnt to swim in her 60s.

She was already a skilled dressmaker and had made most of her children's clothes when the were young.

Mr Wickham died in 2010, but Mrs Wickham remained very active and determinedly independent.

She suffered a bout of ill-health a few years ago, when she was diagnosed with lung cancer, but recovered after surgery.

She only really became ill around the time she moved house and had to be carried down the steps of her old home by the removals men.

She died on Monday, July 9, of a brain tumour, leaving behind her daughters, three grandchildren, four great grandchildren and her cat Maddie.

Her daughter Allison said: "Mum was a very straight-forward no nonsense sort of person. Quite strict when we were children, but who became a real friend.

"She was always busy, generous to a fault and never worried about anything, asking: 'What's the point?'

"We shall miss her terribly."

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