Catherine Noyes


Catherine Noyes

Rest in peace Cath, beautiful person. Here is Fiona Crawford's eulogy to our friend.

Cath was one of those people who you feel immediately that you want to know better. Ella overheard me when they had just moved to Thoiry, recognised my accent and Cath introduced herself. She had a poised presence, a gentleness and warmth. I wanted to know her better and I overtalked. When we parted I thought, She's not going to want to talk to me again, and was annoyed at myself.

Thankfully, she didn't seem to hold it against me, and continued friendly conversations. Over the years, we held many of our chats as we cycled together, sometimes swam and last year even ran together. Despite her illness, she was fit. Two years ago we cycled up to Tiocan and she struggled with the mountain less than I. We were delighted to find the snow still on the ground there as we made our way through the forest.

I always felt privileged to spend time with her, and always wished we could have more. She was a very easy person to feel at home with. Socially, she wasn't the centre of large gatherings, but quietly, she made strong friendships with many of us in Thoiry, from the school gate to the sou d'├ęcole to the book club. I know we were all impressed at the breadth of her activities; even in June, she was still going to her t'ai chi and German classes. I found her often disarmingly honest about her struggles with her illness, but she was determined too not to be defined by it. Someone who worked with her on the kermesse told me yesterday that she didn't know she was sick. I think Cath would have been pleased by that. She remembers her as "always very kind and smiling". And who, even this summer, was asking for her blackberry syrup recipe.

Cath was interested in things and she was interested in people. She cared about us even when we felt our issues were so trivial compared to hers - still, she would remember and she would enquire and she would worry about us. She worried that I wasn't getting enough sleep or she'd ask how my knees were, even as she was dealing with all the physical effects of her illness and treatment.

She shared her time and knowledge and skills, whether it was tutoring in maths or helping with bureaucracy that our French wasn't up to. She spoke so well of people, as if everyone else was special or impressive - but that's how we all felt about her. About the last time I saw her, she was struggling with bad news and about to head back to the hospital that morning, and yet she sent Tom back to the house to find a steamer she had promised my friend for her wedding the next day. There was no talking her out of it, as she'd already promised and was determined.

We both disliked the cancer clich├ęs of bravery, of battle metaphors and so on. But it wouldn't be honest to talk about Cath without saying that she really was, and will remain, an inspiration to all of us who knew her.