A legacy from a gran who once served up tea to spooks cracking the WWII Enigma code is to fund a new cafe at North Clwyd Animal Rescue centre.
Animal lover Doris Davies from Kinmel Bay left more than £36,000 in her will for the Flintshire centre, to say thanks for the pet dogs she adopted from NCAR over the years.
The cheque was presented to centre staff by the 95-year-old’s twin grandsons Glynn and David – who only found out about her existence a few years ago. Mrs Davies has also left donations to Rhyl lifeboat and her local church.
Deeside-based Rubicon Garden Rooms has been chosen to build the new cafe, which will be serving up teas and snacks to the centre’s staff and volunteers, plus visitors seeking to adopt a rescue animal.
NCAR fund-raising manager Nicky Owen, whose parents Anne and Neil run the centre, said: “When we found out that Doris worked in tea-rooms for most of her life, in Llangollen and also at Bletchley Park, we thought it would be fitting to use her very generous legacy to create this much-needed cafe.
“After extensive research we decided that Rubicon, as a local Flintshire firm, offered the best value for money – and the managing director John Lyon has also given us a substantial discount, so we are making the most of Doris’ donation.”
Work will start in autumn on the 500 sq ft cafe at the centre at Trelogan, near Holywell. It will also be used for volunteer training sessions and fund-raising events, and is expected to be open in the New Year.
Rubicon Garden Rooms founder John Lyon said: “As an animal lover I am delighted to be working with Nicky and the team at NCAR on this project. I can see that the cafe is needed, as the staff and volunteers presently have a very cramped area in which to relax.
“Nicky came along to our showrooms to look closely at what we can offer and to discuss the centre’s requirements. The site, alongside the entrance courtyard, does present some construction challenges but I am sure that these will soon be overcome, and the new cafe will be a great addition to the centre.”
Glynn, a firefighter, and his brother David, an HGV driver, only discovered three years ago that Mrs Davies was their grandmother – and had once worked at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, the central site for Britain’s codebreakers during World War II, who famously decrypted the German enigma machine.
The 45-year-old identical twin brothers, from Ludlow in Shropshire, were stunned, following their father Graham’s death four years ago, to be told his real mother Doris lived in North Wales.
Graham grew up in Llangollen where Doris ran a tea room. His dad Trevor, Doris’ husband, had left the family when Graham was young to start a new life with partner Joyce Lawrence, whom he later married.
Graham moved in with Trevor and Joyce when he was a teenager and lost touch with his mum, though they re-established contact in the 1990s.
The twins, who both attended Ludlow Church of England School, always assumed Joyce was their paternal grandmother as she had the Davies surname – the truth never even surfaced after her death from motor neurone disease.
“It was a shock. As far as we were concerned Dad’s mum was Joyce,” said Glynn, who has been a firefighter for 23 years, and presently serves at Ladywood Fire Station in Birmingham as crew commander.
“My wife Amanda and I love Prestatyn in North Wales and always went on holidays there with the kids. As daft as it seems, we were only three or four miles away from my Nan and we never knew it at the time.
“We were literally driving past her house for many years not knowing we had a blood relation living there.”
Glynn was given Doris’ telephone number from his dad’s partner Yvonne and the brothers decided to ring to ask if they could visit.
“We thought the least we could do was to see her and pay our respects, and so we took dad’s ashes up to her,” said Glynn.
“It wasn’t easy for her, as she didn’t know how we were going to react. We just grabbed the bull by the horns and Nan was the same.
“When we met her she sat us in her front room and said you’re the spitting image of your old man. From then on in, David and I would take her out for lunch and she would always refuse for us to pay. She was a very proud lady and at 92 she still had all her faculties.
“She was still driving and had only just sold her Micra car. She travelled all around the UK without any sat-nav. Strangely, my brother can take you anywhere in the country and tell you which road leads to what and Nan could do exactly the same.
“I could see our facial resemblance and I could see us in her when we looked back at the photos.”
Doris, who died in June 2015, left £140,000 to her chosen beneficiaries, which included the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), NCAR and Kinmel Bay Church, of which she had been a member for almost 60 years.
The brothers delivered all of her cheques in person to find out more about their grandmother’s legacies and are thankful of the time they spent getting to know her before she passed.
“This lady gave to everybody,” said Glynn. “She was very humble and had her friends around her. All she needed was love and her faith, and that’s all she wanted. She had copious amounts of that.
“She had her dogs, an Irish terrier and a poodle, which she got from the rescue home.
“No amount of words can describe how we feel about the fact our children met her. I just wish we had longer.
“David and I are so glad we made the last two and a half years of her life the happiest she had ever had. She got to meet her great-grandchildren. She met all the family in one room at the same time. You would think that lady had won the pools.
“She left a massive impression on people. She was quite a character.”
The brothers also discovered they shared many of their grandmother’s passions, including a love for animals.
David has a pet greyhound from a rescue centre while Glynn has a springer spaniel, a sprocker, three ponies, a cat and two rabbits.
They are hoping to scatter their grandmother’s ashes in the sea at Rhyl in the coming months while on-board an RNLI lifeboat. The RNLI, which has made the twins honorary life members, has also announced plans to create a commemorative plaque in memory of Doris.
Nicky said staff and volunteers at NCAR had been overwhelmed at Doris’ donation.
“We are delighted and so thankful to people like Doris. It’s not very often that we get a legacy left to us on this scale and we are overwhelmed with joy,” she said.
“We have more than 120 dogs on site on a daily basis, 150 cats and 20 rabbits and our costs are in excess of £1,000 a day. Donations like these make a huge difference.
“Doris’ legacy will create a wonderful place for people to spend time here and for our volunteers.
“The whole family came out to see us, which it was really nice. We discussed how they wanted the money spent and when we mentioned the idea of a tearoom both of them decided it was ideal because of their grandmother’s history with tearooms. It fitted perfectly.
“We didn’t have the chance to get to know Doris personally but it’s nice that we’re able to get to know her family.”
Rubicon Garden Rooms was founded by former Airbus engineer John Lyon, and its modular buildings are manufactured at its factory in Queensferry and quickly installed, usually without the need for planning permission.
Rubicon’s bespoke, fully insulated top-of-the-range units are now used for everything from home offices to art or music rooms, yoga studios, teenage dens and annexes for dependent relatives.
More details at rubicongardenrooms.co.uk or call 01244 552813