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By The Cornishman  |  Posted: January 24, 2013

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Chris Tonkin,


ELLEN Christabel Rowe known as Chris, Chrissy or Nel was born on Christmas Eve 1925, the first child of Percy and Ellen Rowe of Lower Boscadjack Farm. She began her education at Trannack School changing to Three Cross when the family moved to Selena Farm in Wendron. She attended the County School in Penrose Road, leaving in July 1941 and started work in Lloyds Bank, Helston.

In 1944 Chris joined the ATS as a lance corporal, did basic training in Derby and ended up working in statistics at Anti-Aircraft Command, Stanmore having reached the rank of staff sergeant.

After the war she did a shorthand and typing course and worked at the Commonwealth Office, London, cycling to work from Herne Hill. She enjoyed living in London regularly going to the theatre.

When her mother became ill in 1951 she returned to Cornwall to care for her and joined the staff of Keith Macleod Accountant in Helston where she met Frank Tonkin. They married in February 1955 and their first home was in Castle Drive, Praa Sands where their daughter, Hilary, was born.

In 1962 they moved to a new bungalow, Trerowton, where they stayed until 1976, then going to their current home in Germoe. There were so many aspects to Chris's life – the WI, BPW and Germoe church treasurer for many years. Chris was an able seamstress and made the wedding and bridesmaid's dresses when Hilary married Andrew in 1984.

She regularly made her own chutney, marmalade, bread, mincemeat, cakes and Christmas puddings. She even did all the catering for their 50th wedding anniversary celebrations.

Chris and Frank enjoyed dinner dances, lunches, even some foreign trips with the masons. In recent years they had enjoyed cruise holidays.

With a number of elderly aunts in the family Chris was called upon to help with care many times. Her own mother lived with them and then her mother's sister, Auntie Clara, for a time.

Chris had always enjoyed sport, playing hockey, tennis and badminton when younger. In 1970 Praa Sands Golf Club opened and Chris took up golf. By 1972 she was also a member of Mullion Golf Club playing regularly and maintaining a respectable handicap. Later she also joined West Cornwall Golf Club, playing in competitions including mixed foursomes with her son-in-law.

Chris did a term of office as lady captain of Mullion and later was lady captain of Praa Sands. She was then the treasurer and went on to be president of the Cornwall Ladies' Captains' Society. One of her greatest wins was the Mullion Veterans' Cup in 2011 against competitors who were younger than herself. It was clear at the presentation evening it was a popular win.

Her first grandson, Robert, was born in 1990 followed by William in 1992. The boys brought her a lot of joy, frequently joining her round the pitch and putt courses when younger and, latterly, enjoying after-dinner games, discussions including politics – even snowball fights.

Hilary and Chris were very close and shared many interests and outings together. With Hilary's help Chris mastered the computer and learnt how to text, maintaining regular contact with her grandsons at university. Her latest technological conquest was to master a Kindle Touch.

Although Chris will be sorely missed one could not have wished for a better end for her, than on the golf course playing the game she loved.

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