Lives Remembered: Beulah Town

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The Independent Online

Beulah Town, who died on 17 October aged 76, was a trailblazer for 21st-century women. Born at a time when the feminine life pattern was usually job or profession, marriage, then return to work after children, she bucked the trend. For her, the career enabled her to go her own independent way.

She was a secretary in Halifax, worked in Switzerland and then in Nigeria, at the country's Parliament. By this time, she realised that she wished to travel and work abroad. She was very glamorous, always fashionable, slim with luxuriant red hair, she was attractive to men and liked by women, being sociable and hospitable. What distinguished her from many other women was her determination to be independent, live alone and be answerable to nobody.

She added a doctorate to her qualifications, so became employed in colleges and universities. She worked in Bermuda, and in the Bahamas – in the latter, she practised dressage, riding side-saddle in full habit. Mainly however, she worked in Africa, in countries such as Sierra Leone, Zambia, Malawi, Sudan and Cameroon.

In 1969 she gained temporary notoriety by being deported from Malawi for wearing a mini-skirt. In Cameroon she learnt to speak French fluently, while in the Middle East (Iran and Kuwait) she made herself understood in Arabic. It was in these sometimes hazardous places that she acquired guard dogs, and thus became a devotee of the German Shepherd breed. It was also amid the shifting population of the expatriate communities that she adopted cats. As a young woman, she would have liked to become a vet.

Eventually, she decided to retire to England, and chose Brighton as her ideal home. With Mistral, her German Shepherd – to whom she spoke French – she enjoyed the beautiful countryside and coastline.

Brighton captivated her, because of its youthful and vibrant society and the freedom to express one's own personality. She loved the theatre, drama, opera, exotic music and dance, and was a Friend of the Brighton Festival and patron of its Fringe. Beulah was a brilliant conversationalist, fun to be with, and she will be missed by all who knew her.

Monica Morris

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