Cecily Elizabeth Arnold La Bouchardière
DescriptionCecily was the daughter of Richard Arnold Pank (1868-19), an engineer and a native of Norwich, and his wife, Minnie Sarah (1971-1928). She had a brother, Cuthbert Arnold, who served as an officer in the Royal Army Dental Corps. in 1930 Cecily sailed to India in 1930 to be married to Maurice P La Bouchardière, a member of the Indian police force whom she had met in England. The ceremony was held on the day after her ship docked. They had two daughters: Cecily Anne (b. 1933) Mrs. David Gibbons) and Sara Elizabeth (b. 1936).
The La Bouchardières had been married only nine years when the Second World War broke out. Cecily was entrusted with the responsibility of a block of 110 flats housing British passport refugees who couldn’t get back to England. So successfully did she do this that the Polish Consul General in Bombay enlisted her help for 15,000 who were en route to Tanganyika. Her task was to supply them with unperishable necessities which she succeeded in obtaining in the cheapest markets. For her efforts she was awarded the M.B.E. by the British Government and the Polish Government awarded her the Gold Cross of Merit
Her daughters still at boarding school, Cecily returned alone to England in 1948 with instructions from her husband to find a home within about 30 miles from London. She fell in love with the little market town of Wokingham and was fortunate enough to find a house, Glancroft, on the Laing Estate in Emmbrook. They later moved to Easthampstead Road.
Maurice, returned to India while Cecily became involved with council work. When she became Mayor in 1956 she invited her daughter, Sara Elizabeth to be Mayoress in the absence of her husband. Not only was Sara Wokingham’s youngest Mayoress, she became Wokingham’s first Mayoress to marry during her term of office when she married John Christopher Baggaley in December 1956. The other daughter, Cecily Ann married Philip David Gibbons in July 1955.
In addition to her civic duties, Cecily was a Guide Commissioner and committee member of her favourite charity, the Chest, Heart and Stroke Association. A qualified kindergarten teacher, she worked briefly at the Presentation Convent in Easthampstead Road and became involved with the church council at All Saints.
After her house was burgled in 1981, Cecily moved to Solihull in the West Midlands to be near her elder daughter, Anne. She died at her home on the 28th May 1991.
SourceFormer Mayors of Wokingham from 1947 - 1979, by J Bell.
“Cecily Elizabeth Arnold La Bouchardière,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed July 27, 2021, https://wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0114.