A CLOSE-KNIT community is coming to terms with the loss of a stalwart figure who was at the heart of village life for seven decades.
Valentine Elizabeth Butterfield died at her home on Birch Road in Hodthorpe last month aged 79.
Hundreds of people turned out at her funeral to pay their respects to the woman they described as ‘queen of the village’.
Mrs Butterfield was born in Steventon, Oxfordshire, on Valentine’s Day. She moved to Hodthorpe aged 14 and stayed until she passed away last month.
After finishing her education at Hodthorpe school and Shirebrook Grammar School, she went straight to work in a general store in Worksop.
Then she went to work in the kitchens at the town’s old Victoria Hospital.
“Mum used to serve the doctors their breakfast, which she loved,” said daughter Julie Loftus.
“She met dad while she was working there. He used to hang around outside and ask her out but she wasn’t having any of it at first because he was ten years older.”
But eventually she caved in and the pair got married at Whitwell Church.
Thomas and Val were married for 48 years until he died in 2000. They leave children, Ann, Roy, Susan and Julie, seven grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.
All four of her children were born at their home in King Street, Hodthorpe.
“Mum had never been in hospital in her life until she became very ill just recently,” said Ann.
Sue added: “The day she died was the only morning she didn’t get out of bed. She said she was comfortable and not in pain. She never complained once.”
Mrs Butterfield’s daughters spoke of how their mother had always ‘grafted hard’ throughout her life.
Whether she was working on the land at nearby Salmons Farm, cleaning at Hodthorpe Club or looking after the village primary school where she worked as caretaker for 24 years.
Ann said: “We would all get off the school bus and help her clean at the school. She’d be climbing ladders higher than she should have to clean the walls.”
The Butterfield family still have strong links with Hodthorpe Club, and Val was a founder member of the Happy Valley Girls - the women’s section.
A membership holder for 43 years, she spent time as president and even raised money to pay insurance on the building while it was closed for a year.
“We were taking mum to the club for bingo even in the days just before she died,” said Ann.
“She was always organising bingo nights, raffles and trips for everyone in the village, not just club members.”
Sue added: “Someone once said that wherever mum was, she had raffle tickets with her to sell. She raised so much money for various causes.”
And she loved to entertain. Family gatherings at Val Butterfield’s were always well catered, as she loved to cook and bake.
Julie said: “Mum was a kind, generous and loving woman who had time for anyone. She’ll be missed by so many.”