Kate Fergusson was my mother’s manager at Unilever Research in Welwyn, as well as a good friend. Kate was a keen mountaineer and when the accident happened she was climbing in the Dolomites. On hearing of the crash she immediately made her way to Ljubljana to be with my mother. This would be a long journey today, let alone in 1966! I think that at the time she believed that only my mother had survived. I didn’t really know her at the time (we had only met socially once, I believe). I think I remember her visiting but am not completely sure.
She came into her own when we returned to Welwyn Garden City. She was a wonderful, caring but completely objective person who really helped my mother in the early years after the accident. Kate ran the ‘Climbing Club’ at Unilever and persuaded my mother to join. My mother went on many enjoyable trips climbing in Britain: Snowdonia and the Grampians.
Unilever relocated their research facility in Welwyn to Bedford around 1976/7 My mother worked very closely with Kate in handling the arrangements for as many of the personnel as wanted to move. Neither my mother nor Kate moved to the Bedford site. My mother retired and Kate left Unilever completely to join the Anglican church where she was ordained. For the remainder of her life she was the Reverend Kate Fergusson. When I rang her in September 1997 to tell her that my mother had died she, without prompting, offered to conduct my mother’s funeral service. This offer I was most pleased to accept.
We all kept in contact over the years – Christmas cards, telephone and then email. We did meet up in London in 1994 when we lived there and we were planning for her to come to visit us in Cambridge.
Around 2010/2011 I went through a period when I had regular nightmares about the crash – the ward I was in and the cries of other survivors. I decided to consult a therapist for the first time in my life. During the period of this therapy I visited Kate in Fovant where her common sense, forthrightness and love helped me immeasurably in understanding some of the events around the crash and the emotions I was experiencing.
Kate died in early November 2018. I found out at the end of December 2018 when her sister replied to the Christmas card we had sent Kate. I would have dearly liked to have paid my respects to her at her funeral. Her sister told me that, at Kate’s request, her climbing boots were placed on top of her coffin!