Heather Wiffen
My mother, Sylvia was born in her parents’ home over the family music shop in Birmingham. She was one of five sisters, in a happy family full of music, good fun and lots of mischief.  From an early age, she was a leader.  She and her younger sister used to organize song and dance programs on the street and sell drinks to anyone who would come. 
Like so many others, she left school at age 14 after learning the practical arts of cooking, sewing and weaving.  These skills helped her to bring creativity, beauty and warmth to every situation in which she was involved.  From the outset she expressed her care for others and followed in the footsteps of a grandmother, two aunts and two sisters (all of whom were nurses).  In her early teenage years, instead of continuing with formal education, she took her cooking and sewing skills to the slums. There she helped other children to improve their lives, while at the same time, working full-time in the family’s music shop.
In her late teens, she joined the women's branch of the British Army and then enlisted for four years. After Dunkirk, she worked in the war records office, keeping track of prisoners and the missing, and informing the families of those who died. During that time, both her own boyfriend and her sister’s fiancé‚ were killed. To keep up her own and others’ morale, she was part of the “Atta-girl Review” – a group that entertained the troops with song and dance.
After 4 years of military service she left the army. By that time, she was already questioning the paradoxes of war. She felt she had missed the real horrors of the war while Britain's eastern allies were taking the real brunt of the Nazi aggression which killed 25 million Soviet citizens. During the last year of the war, she worked in a munitions factory making parts for anti-aircraft guns. She worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week until, in a moment of lapsed concentration, she got her hair caught in the machinery and almost scalped herself. Because the factory was noisy, she taught her fellow workers sign language so they could talk to one another. Sylvia was always a communicator.
Shortly after the end of the war, Dad met Mum at a dance. As the story goes, he fell in love at first sight. He asked her to dance and then arranged for all his friends to dance with her so that no one else would have a chance. They were to become a great team and a close partnership. She created warmth and atmosphere and always wanted to make things beautiful. Dad’s calm  measured practicality made their ideas a reality . I remember them spending years designing and building the cottage and the house together.
But now I’m getting ahead of myself. First, Roy persuaded her to come to Canada for a visit and then after a week they were married. My Uncle Don has come from Saskatchewan to be here and share his thoughts with us.