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The life of Patricia Padilla (nee Connolly) – 17 Sep 1940 – 24 August 2022

The life of Patricia Padilla (nee Connolly) – 17 Sep 1940 – 24 August 2022

A snapshot of Liverpool life

Patricia Connolly was born in Liverpool on September 17th, 1940 as war raged throughout Europe. Her father, Joe was an electrician at the time, serving the war effort by working on Nazi ships and submarines captured by the Allies. Her mother, Mabel, was a dressmaker. Pat was Joe and Mabel’s second child. They’d already lost their first, Joan, to diphtheria. Pat’s early days were fraught with danger. The family lived in Bootle, a suburb almost destroyed during Nazi air raids in May 1941. Baby Pat was wrapped up and hidden away in a chest of drawers during these raids for safety. Joe and Mabel had four more children, Monica and Mike, who were closest in age to Pat, and Daniel and Anne, who were much younger. Pat doted on her youngest siblings, cooking for them, taking them on trips to Formby beach andhoning the maternal skills that would make her a fantasticmother to her own three children, later in life.

Pat was a success at school, her sharp mind ensuring that she finished near the top of her cohort to gain entry to Seafield Grammar School in Crosby. At Seafield, she vied with Rita Hunt for top ranking. However, as a girl from Bootle, as opposed to the more affluent area of Crosby, she was considered “unsuitable” for taking Latin. She took Spanish instead. It would prove significant. When she wasn’t taking care of Daniel and Anne, the teenage Pat would relax with a good book, or go dancing at the Holy Rosary in Old Roan. She would help her Dad, who was now a bookmaker, by collecting “clock bags”, bundles of cash from the street reps on the docks – quite an unsavoury place for a young lady at that time! When betting shops were made legal some time later, she would work in her Dad’s shop at weekends, Connolly Racing, where “you could cut the smoke with a knife”. Upon leaving school, her love of books led her to start work in the library. Her love of dancing took her to Reece’sBallroom, the Grafton on West Derby Road, and on one lifechanging moment, to the Cavern and the Jacaranda in Liverpool. The Jacaranda was where the 18-year old Pat met Pepe, a Spaniard working on the Reina del Pacifico and Reina del Mar cruise ships sailing between Liverpool and South America. The couple fell in love. Pepe would return to sea for months at a time, but each time the ship returned to Liverpool, he would spend every day with Pat for the fortnight he was ashore. They went swimming in New Brighton, they drank wine at Formby beach, and they always went dancing. Pepe wasn’t the only one with the travel bug. At around the age of 20, Pat hitched a ride on Pepe’s ship with her friend Maureen, sailing to his home town of Santander. It was a very different world to the vibrant scene they’d left in Liverpool. As Pat would recall, in Santander, a courting couple could be arrested for kissing in public. But the two girls had a ball anyway. When Pepe finally left his sea legs behind him and settled in Liverpool, Pat wasn’t quite done with her own travel dreams. She had fallen in love with Spanish culture, eating gambas, or drinking la bota on the beach. By this time, she was working in the Banco D’Espana in Liverpool, she had a Spanish boyfriend and had already decided her first born would be called Ramon. When the opportunity arose to teach English as a foreign language to the families of diplomats in Madrid in 1964, she could not resist. Madrid excited her. With his girl in Madrid, Pepe left Liverpool for London. By the time Pat returnedthe following summer, Pepe was also back on Merseyside. “What are your intentions?”, asked Pat’s father, Joe, of the lovestruck Spaniard. Pepehad waited long enough and he finally asked Pat to marry him. “I’m not saying yes on the phone”, she replied, “ask me in person”. So he did. On the 28th May 1966, Pat and Pepe were married at St Joseph’s in Blundellsands. They honeymooned in Marbella and set up home in Maghull. Their son, Ramon arrived less than a year later, and daughter, Susie, soon after. Pat’s maternal instincts kicked in. Plans to emigrate to Vancouver were shelved, and the young family moved, instead to Formby, at the end of the 1960s. But the travel bug remained. Keen for a new adventure, Pat encouraged Pepe to apply for a job in a hotel in Tenerife. The family moved to Puerto de la Cruz, living in a small flat next to a banana plantation. They enjoyed the facilities at the five-star hotel but Pat started to miss her home. She was a proud Liverpudlian her entire life, and she loved the city of her birth. After returning to Formby, in the early 1970s, she would remain on Merseyside for the rest of her life.

In the mid 70s, Pat and Pepe had their third child, Tony. Despite the demands of bringing up a young family, Pat was determined to return to education after encouragement from her sister Monica. She taught herself Spanish A level and secured a place at the University of Liverpool as a mature student, studying Hispanic Studies.

Pepe was then working as restaurant manager at the Shakespeare Club in Fraser Street. Having gone up in flames in the early hours of 15 November 1963 barely two weeks after opening, the club reopened as one of Britain’s foremost cabaret clubs, with regular acts being Tommy Cooper, Freddie Starr, Ken Dodd and Tom O’Connor. A second fire in 1976 finally called time on the old theatre by which time Pepe had left and was working in the St Georges Hotel at Lime Street, (now the Holiday Inn Liverpool City Centre).

It is testimony to Pat’s brilliant mind that she succeeded in her degree whilst remaining as devoted as ever to her three kidswhile Pepe worked long hours at the restaurants every evening. In the end, Pat spoke five languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French. Pat became a schoolteacher, teaching Modern Languages, and inspiring many kids at secondary schools in the regionincluding St Columba in Huyton and St Aelred’s in Newton-le-Willows (where she taught Spanish A level to future cabinet minister and Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham!). But above all, Pat was a Mum to her three children, and later a Grandma to their children. When she took early retirement in the 1990s, she would take care of her first grandchildren Kirsten and Adam for a couple of days each week. Pat loved to read, to dance, to travel, was always drawn to sun and seafood - gambas, calamares, boquerones, and if the occasion merited, lobster. On one particular birthday, Pepe went to the market early to buy a live lobster for dinner later that day. When he returned with her still asleep, he put the lobster in her bed! Pat and Pepe were two parts of a whole. In their retirement, they took cruises together as part of a scheme for Spanish pensioners. Pat’s health began to deteroriate in later years, and it was tough for her, but her mind never lost its sharpness. She was as technologically savvy as those a quarter of her age and spent time researching her family history, finding relativesincluding the presenter Anne Robinson. She doted on all her grandchildren, Kirsten, Adam, Elliot, Lucas, Jess and Bella. Her family was everything to her and she was to them.

One of Pat’s happiest recent memories was driving the Liverpool Duck Boat on her 70th birthday, and she loved going into town to see the Tall Ships and dining at the newest restaurants Liverpool had to offer. She would ask to be driven around the streets of Liverpool City Centre on a Saturday night to see where the young people would go out and what they were wearing!

A proud Scouser her whole life, Pat finally departed this world peacefully at the Southport and Formby Hospital on August 24th 2022, surrounded by her family and all the love that she herself had brought into their world.

Pat’s funeral is at 11.30am on 16 September, Our Lady of Compassion RC Formby.

A tribute page is dedicated to Pat where you can leave messages, tell stories and make donations to her favourite charities.



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