ForeverMissed
Stories

Share a special moment from Cecilia's life.

From the weekly National RCGP email

Shared by Emma Williams on April 1, 2021
Dr Celia Thomas

1954 - 2021

It was with extreme sadness that we were informed of the sudden death of our partner Cecilia Thomas on Sunday 7 March 2021. Celia as she was known had been a partner at the practice for almost 40 years. She joined Minster Surgery initially as a trainee GP in 1981 and returned in 1984 as a Partner.  At that time the surgery was based at its original premises on Newport Rd. Celia was part of the team who oversaw the rapid expansion of the practice into St. Mellons in 1985 and the relocation from Newport Rd to its current site on Minster Rd in 1988.  
Celia was always a keen educator of trainee GPs and medical students. She became a GP trainer in 1988 and in 1996 she was appointed as an Honorary Clinical Lecturer for Cardiff University.  For many years she also led a popular study module on medicine in literature for third year students which culminated in an annual visit to the Hay Book Festival. 

During her time as an RCGP trainer she was appointed as the Programme Director of the Cardiff post graduate training scheme in 1990. Providing pastoral support and career guidance to hundreds of trainee GPs. Tributes from former trainees have described her as an inspirational trainer and wonderful teacher and her services to the RCGP were further recognised when she was appointed as a Fellow of the College. 

In addition to her busy professional life Celia also found time to pursue numerous hobbies and interests, she was a keen cyclist, runner, swimmer and skier. She regularly participated in outdoor fitness sessions at 6 am and enjoyed trips to the Theatre.

Celia was a kind, caring and compassionate GP who was able to provide truly holistic care in the best tradition of General Practice. She often seemed to have a 6th sense for getting to the true cause of patients’ problems or sniffing out danger and acting on it. She was always available for advice to clinical and other practice staff. 

Celia was also a loving wife to Roger, mother to Emma, Bethan and Rhys and grandmother to Tomos and Henri. 

She will be sorely missed by all of those who were lucky enough to work with her over the past 38 years and get to know her as a friend and colleague. She will leave a huge hole in the life of our surgeries but of course our deepest sympathies extend to her family at this sad time
Shared by Bethan McMinn on March 26, 2021
It’s so hard to write this as the reality of losing such a wonderful woman in such a sudden, unexpected way has not really sunk in. I cannot imagine how your family are feeling and I am thinking of them a lot and wishing them all the strength and courage in the world. Thank you Celia for bringing so much joy and positivity into all our lives. You were always up for a laugh and a challenge and I had the honour of sharing many with you. The coast to coast event in Scotland stands out as one of the most memorable. I was always in awe of the fact that despite being many years my senior you were so much fitter and you had already had a few Proseccos by the time I finished :-) I also recall you deciding to cycle to Merthyr Mawr session because you’d heard others were doing it and you couldn’t miss out. Even though you admitted to me during the sandune session that you were starting to regret the decision to cycle, you still declined my offer of a lift home. You had to see things through and that’a one of the many qualities I admire about you. I’m not sure if I’ll ever meet such a headstrong, determined, fit and active, sociable woman with such a thirst for life and challenge as you. You are one of a kind and will be forever missed.

Goodbye Mum

Shared by Emma Williams on March 27, 2021
To our exceptional mum (our eulogy read at the funeral

…. from Emma, Bethan and Rhys

Our Mum’s life was exceptional in so many ways.

She was a loving, caring and devoted wife, daughter, sister, mother, mother in law and Nani. She was a compassionate, dedicated doctor, colleague, teacher, mentor and friend to so many. And of course she was a determined athlete taking up marathon running, cycling and triathlons in later life.

And yet, as exceptional as her life was, she never believed that what she did was more than any of us can do.

She shied away from any sort of recognition – we would often find out months later that she had won a triathlon or running event or received a prestigious award for her work as a GP trainer.She was never one to brag about her accomplishments. She was confident; focussed on her own goals and destination – but she was humble; she didn’t need to keep stopping to tell everyone where she was going.

As children, she taught us that we could do whatever we wanted to do in life and there were no limits on what we can achieve so long as we were willing to work hard and persevere.

Hard work was a defining feature of mum. Her work ethic was like no other – you can count on one hand the days she missed off work in 40 years and these few days off were accounted for following enforced recovery periods after back and knee surgery. If the recommended recovery period following a knee operation was 3 months, guaranteed mum would be walking after 3 days.

I remember as a little girl I broke my left arm (I am lefthanded – this is important to the story). It was a nasty break and I was in hospital for a week having metal plates put in my arm. Once I was out of hospital, I was absolutely fine but was hoping for a few extra days off school so I was incredulous when mum explained that I was perfectly well enough to go back to schoolimmediately. I pleaded that there was no point going to school as I couldn’t write anything anyway. Her response…..“you may not be able to write Emma, but you can listen” and off I went to school with Mum reminding me that you “get what you work for, not what you wish for.

As girls, she taught Bethan and I how to be independent, strong and fearless- she was an amazing role model, leading by example and showing us how to confidently be ourselves. Although the proportion of women studying medicine has made significant gains over the decades, female medical students were still in the minority when mum went to university. This did not stop mum who not only went on to be a well-respected GP, working full time at the same practice for 40 years whilst at the same time raising 3 children, she also mentored and trained countless GP registrars providing them with invaluable teaching and guidance so they could further their own careers and fulfil their own dreams.

Lots of people have said over the last few weeks that “her zest for life was contagious.” And so it was. She was 100 miles an hour, not wasting a second of life; filling every moment with family, friends, work and fun. Over the years our house at Lake Road East was a home that hosted numerous parties, countless meals, family gatherings and magical Christmas days full of food, board games, loveand laughter.

Mum never said no to a challenge and her gutsy determination was inspirational (and sometimes a little scary).I remember one year we had signed up to do the Snowdonia marathon – billed as the toughest marathon in Europe. It was late October and the weather was terrible, there was howling wind and torrential rain and significant numbers of people were dropping out the race. The idea of running a marathon in those conditions was awful and I suggested that perhaps we might want to reconsider this as, at the time, we were newbie runners after all. It probably wasn’t even safe I told her. However, quitting was never an option for mum and I remember her telling me that despite the fact that she was “so wet even her knickers were soaked through”that we were going to run it and that was that. So we did. And we lovedit and ran it again and again completing it together numerous times over subsequent years. I spoke to her friend recently and mum was apparently regaling this story about her “wet knickers”on their bike ride on the day she died – she did tell a good story!

Mum made everything fun – our long marathon training runs always ended with a hot chocolate and cake. Once she ran 26 miles to a Vineyard where she stopped for some wine tasting. This ended up being good practice for the marathon we ran in the medoc region of France a few years later, which involved 23 wine tasting stops along the course! If the Snowdon marathon was the hardest in Europe, this was definitely the longest….

Mum had a no-nonsense approach to life – just roll your sleeves up and get on with it. No messing, no fluffiness around the edges. She was “hardcore” as so many people would say yet she was thoughtful, loving and generous and always giving a little more kindness and love than was expected- because it was innate to her.

Mum treated everyone equally and was interested in everyone. She was inquisitive and curious –never afraid to ask questions that showed how much she cared. As a doctor she never gave up, always seeking the best for her patients and was relentless in her search for the underlying causes, answers, and remedies. She was always asking“what else might be going on?” to help explain undiagnosed conditions and was always going the extra mile. She undoubtedly saved countless lives.

As children, Mum was always our greatest supporter. There was a time when Bethan was competing in the Welsh Schools XC championships in the aftermath of a storm. The thick mud covering the course sapped her energy and she slid from side to side as she attempted to ascend the final incline, a narrow muddy track through some trees. Her legs felt like lead and she just couldn’t find her balance; her hopes of making the Welsh team began to quickly fade.....until Mum gave her a helping hand! She reached over the barrier separating the athletes from the spectators and proceeded to give her backside a loving, yet forceful push, helping her to scramble to the top.

In more recent years she supported and encouraged Bethan to follow her dreams and passions. She understood her wanderlust and never once made her feel guilty for living so far away. Instead, she would always look for the silver lining. That was her forte. For her, the physical distance was an opportunity to travel and have exciting adventures together. Bethan said she will never forget the times they shared a sunset yogasession on a rooftop in Kerala, getting lost in the souks of Tunis, climbing waterfalls in Okinawa, and their kayaking escapades in Langkawi.

Mum was always up for anything and would often say that she would try anything once apart from “incest and Morris dancing” which was her favourite quote, often attributed to Oscar Wilde. And Rhys can attest she stayed true to her word on this one!

Recently, Rhys has been spending his free time playing drums in a (very!) heavy metal group called “copehilldown”. Now mum certainly liked music, but more of the sort of ABBA and Celine Dion vibe. Meatloaf or Greenday was probably as heavy as it got for her.

Rhys’ band were billed to play a gig in a small venue called “fuel” in Cardiff, an exclusively heavymetal club containing all the delinquent look- a -likes you could think of. Mum was desperately keen to go, despite Rhysadvising against it as it “probably wasn’t her thing”. Rhys’band played a good set and managed to get a bit of a “mosh pit” going on. After the set one of Rhys’ close friends who attended ran up to him and saidI’m so sorry!!!” Shocked at his remark Rhys asked him what had happened and he told Rhys that mum had proceeded to enter the mosh pit area and had accidentally been elbowed by him in the face!! That was mum, always there to support and encourage her children in any way possible, even if it meant at the expense of her facial bones and ear drums.

As an adult, she became my best friend, advisor and confidante. Her greatest quality was to encourage me to make the best of everything and to face problems head on. She believed that there was no obstacle that couldn’t be overcome. Whenever I wasn’t sure about something, she was always my go to. Always. She was a problem solver…. minutes after my phone call she would be at my door saying “Right Emma…. Let’s think this through….”.  She never let me down. And she believed in all of us even when we did not believe in ourselves. It is hard to believe that she is no longer here to gently persuade us to do what we set out to do with a light but firm hand on our shoulder (or bottom in the case of Bethan).

On New Year’s Day morning this year we got up early and walked to the top of the Garth mountain to watch the sunrise. We sat there discussing all the trips we would have together this year once Covid restrictions were lifted and we could travel again. I can’t believe that we won’t have another adventure together but mum, I promise you we will live life like you did! We will dream big, stay positive, work hard and enjoy the journey until the very end.

As we all start new chapters of our lives, Rhys and Jess getting married, Bethan moving to Seoul and Tomosstarting high school, it breaks our hearts that she won’t be part of these new adventures but we will all treasure the memories we have.

She was a shining example of the very best in humanity and the world is a poorer place without her. She is gone far too soon but she has left an imprint on this world that will never be forgotten.

And as for Bethan, Rhys and I….. JK Rowling said it best “Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever

As one of her friends recently said, wherever she is, I hope she is still up at 6am to do squats and burpees before work.

Cysga’ndawel mam.

xxxx



Shared by Dave Skirrow on March 26, 2021
I have been thinking what to write about Celia and pleased I left it until today. Celia was a much-loved member of Whitchurch Cycling Club. She was known as someone who would ride in any weather, in any direction, and at any time. I spent a lot of time riding with her, and conversation was never an issue. So many stories, so many experiences and so proud of her family.

Her ‘just get on with it’ attitude was infectious and ‘get on with it’ we have done.
Today, we organised a Club ride so that we could gather to mark her funeral day and celebrate her life with her family and friends although distanced due to the current Covid issues.

So on to today and the feeling Celia was having her last laugh with us, testing our resolve to follow her lead and not be challenged by tough conditions.

We decided to meet at Stallings café just outside Cowbridge, a café we use a lot and a route everyone will have ridden with Celia at some time, good memories for all. In the run up to today, the weather has been dry and bright. The forecast for today, rain and strong wind, Celia’s first challenge for us! We hadn’t left the City before our first test of resilience, a puncture, in the rain, on the side of a busy road. Duly fixed and on our way. Our route turned out to be directly into a strong wind, making riding really hard work. Celia would have taken it in her stride and ploughed on. We ploughed on.

As we were joking about Celia testing us, the hail started, driven by a strong wind and our pace on the bike dipped as it stung our faces. Normally it would have been time to get off and shelter, this time it made us smile and imagine Celia laughing with us, or maybe at us !

We battled on and finally arrived at the café to meet the rest of our group, looking forward to a warming coffee and cake to fuel our return. Celia was always first to insist on a coffee stop.

Putting the challenges of the ride out behind us, what else could Celia test us with? We found out shortly after arrival, the café was ‘closed’. Again, we could do nothing but laugh.

Everyone arrived, and at 2pm in the car park of the café we shared the lovely Eulogy being delivered in the chapel in West Wales and had a few minutes of personal reflection.

As we started to decide where to get our coffee and cake to celebrate Celia’s life, the sun came out. We rolled down to Cowbridge. It was here the challenges were replaced with good fortune. A café with no queue and plenty of room outside to stand and chat in the sun. Flat white and millionaire shortbread, Celia’s stock order on a coffee stop.

We spent an hour or so chatting and sharing our personal stories of riding with Celia. So many to share, from her own tumbles from the bike, being thrown out of cafes, to discovering a cannabis café in Caerphilly, there was rarely a dull ride.

When the time came to ride home, we had a strong wind on our back, and bizarrely every single traffic light we met was green. There couldn’t have been more contrast between the two halves of the ride, reminding us of the resilience of Celia on the way out and her kindness and thought on the way back.

Rest in Peace Celia, you will be missed but certainly not forgotten, an inspiration for most, a legend of the Club for all who rode with you. Your stories will be shared and enjoyed within the Club for a long time to come.



Shared by Rebecca Read on March 26, 2021
I first met Celia in my early teens when competing in Athletics with her daughter Beth. Celia very kindly gave me lifts to a number of competitions with Beth in her sporty little car (a Ford Puma I think- but it seemed like a Porsche to me!). I had also enjoyed a number of school ski trips with Beth and Emma back in our Cardiff High school days.

A few years after returning to Cardiff, in my late 20's, in a bid to get back in shape, I joined Outdoor Fitness and met Celia again, this time as a training buddy. As I got more and more into races and events we often shared lifts once again, and on venturing outside of just running events into triathlon and cycling sportives, you could guarantee any challenge which looked like a bit of fun, Celia would be up for too! As a result we enjoyed our first pool swim triathlons, open water triathlons, off road triathlons and bike sportives together along with other keen "OFers". 

At the first open water tri, with Claire and Rachael, we carefully prepared the night before with a few glasses of wine as we stayed over in my caravan. Celia had a bit of a mare in the actual tri, she found the swim the toughest part anyway and her goggles snapped making it even tougher. Emerging from the swim near the back of the pack she wasted no time in picking off the field on the bike section. There were plenty of climbs and with her legs of steel she'd make up lots of time on these. Unfazed by cows blocking the road and her gears jamming on the ride she then powered through a tough 5km beach run, managed to trip on the sand dune boardwalks and finished like a real warrior with bloodied legs, and covered in sand! We all loved it and she wasted no time in booking on to the next event.  

The Cymmer offroad tri was also a fun memory, on our way home we jumped out of the car to pick up our results just as we heard Celia's name being announced over the loud speaker. She'd only gone and won the ladies vets event and won herself a fab goody bag. We all found this most amusing. 

There were too many more events to name them all. In recent years my young family has prevented me from doing so much alongside Celia.  She was always such a joy to spend time with, even if more recently it was in my role as her accountant. She was a fun loving, kind, generous person who always had time for anyone and everyone. Never judging and showing real interest in others. She will be so missed by so many and will have left a lasting impact on all who knew her for all the very best reasons.
Sending my condolences to Roger, Emma, Beth, Rhys, Carwyn, Tomos, Henri and the wider family and all her many friends who will miss her so very much.
Shared by Paul Gregory on March 25, 2021
When I first hit the ski slopes with Celia and Roger, it soon became clear that Celia had the skill and honed technique whereas Roger had no fear. Celia knew every slope and every lift and when you were with Celia you didn’t need a map and you felt safe; even when Roger took you down the kamikaze.

Celia was always grounded sensible and unflappable, even in a crisis on Monte Blanc glacier with the down draft of the rescue chopper blowing us all off our feet, Celia somehow managed to stay with the patient, calm them and help them get onto the winch to safety.

As others have intimated, Celia was hardcore when it came to pain management grit and determination. I have skied with Celia when she has been sporting injuries that most people would have retired to the après ski but not Celia. She would always push on and if it meant only turning left down the slope, because her knee was, the size of a balloon, she would somehow manage to do just that the whole way down.

There are so many nice things one could say about Celia that have already been said, how generous she was and how genuinely interested she always was in others. While waiting for Roger to appear, whether in Praz or in Cardiff, Celia was always energising to chat with, always busy but always finding time to talk over a coffee and dare I say enjoy a gossip. Always interesting, positive, uplifting wise and refereshing.

Celia was clearly an extraordinary person who touched a lot of people’s hearts and impacted them such that the world is undoubtedly a lesser place without her.

Shared by Cheryl Hudgell on March 25, 2021
When i arrived in Cardiff as a student many, years ago i was fortunate to be given Cecelia as my doctor at Minster Surgery. I remember thinking back then... Wow, what a woman!

Our similar passion for running and outdoor fitness activities turned into a wonderful friendship. For years and years we religiously met at 6am for our running club with the girls (and putting the world to right) as well as Outdoor Fitness sessions where we burpeed and squated under the stars with the morning bird song. We had dinners out with the girls, met for park dates with friends and their children.  If any one of us needed any help or advice Cecelia would always be there for us.

I have never met anyone quite like you. You packed so much into your life and would give anything ago. We nicknamed you "The Machine" for this reason. You were so strong, independent, intelligent, compassionate, kind, beautiful and dare i say it? Stubborn! 

Losing you feels wrong, a mistake almost like it really hasn't happened. I can't imagine how your poor family feel and i am so, so desperately sad for them.

I am trying to take comfort in the thought that you felt no pain and you left this life doing what you loved. Despite your absense i know you will continue to enrich and help guide our life choices. You will be forever missed Cecilia. But never far away, always in our thoughts, memories and hearts.

Wow, what a woman. 

Rest in Peace lovely lady.
All my love to you and your wonderful family.
Miss you so much. 
Cheryl x



Shared by Jo Lloyd on March 25, 2021
Ceels, I still can’t quite believe I am writing this, and I’m not good with words but you were one amazing, special lady who had a real passion for life.  You were always there for a run, a cycle, for advice, or just for a coffee and a gossip.  You never stopped, you never gave up (and you had thighs of steel that would always get up that bloody hill, way way ahead of me every time!! )

You never failed to turn down an event, a night out, and were always up for a trip. I’ll be forever thankful for our girls skiing trip where you taught me how to ski down that slope, you had so much patience!!! A trip I will never forget.

You were there for everyone in so many different ways, with that huge heart of gold.

We all have so many memories to be thankful for and Outdoor Fitness will never be quite the same without you Ceels. You were a true inspiration to us all and you will be so so missed.

A true friend, never forgotten.

Our love and thoughts go out to your lovely family.

With love. Jo, Matt and Emily xxxx.

 



Celia, never to be forgotten and always in my thoughts

Shared by Jeffery Webb on March 25, 2021

So many good memories of the activities that I have done with Celia over the years. Walks, runs, triathlons, random events, health and fitness weekends, Outdoor fitness classes, social gatherings, long chats over a coffee to name but a few. If it wasn’t for her kind hearted and generous caring nature my life would be a bit different today and will be forever in her debt. A true inspiration on how to life to the full. 

Ceily my life long friend

Shared by Brenda Phillips on March 22, 2021
Our parents met during the war and attended each other’s weddings.  Our fathers were part of a self build scheme  and together with 22 others built the bungalows in Plantsbrook  Road. They remained friends all their lives. I was two and a half when you were born - the start of a friendship that lasted a lifetime. We were there for each other through happy and sad times, our weddings, the birth of our children and grandchildren and the loss of our beloved parents.   
Memories of travelling from Birmingham to be  asked on arrival if we wanted tea or coffee. You would then disappear upstairs leaving us to make it ourselves. Mick says you could never multi task.
You were such a kind caring and loving person and your generosity held no bounds.  You had endless amounts of energy which few could match. I would go home after a weekend visit absolutely worn out.
You were taken from us far too soon but I will treasure our friendship always
Goodnight my lovely friend xxxx
Shared by Claire Date on March 21, 2021
What a wonderful woman I’ve had the privilege of calling my friend. Always ready for a challenge, with a smile, steely determination and her crack on attitude - all reasons why we lovingly called her ‘the machine’. Our 6am chats, laughs, putting the world to rights and sharing our stories meant we hardly even noticed the burpees we were doing Celia, you were one of lives treasures and I feel all the richer for having known you. I’ll miss you my friend xxx
Shared by Meryl Moakes on March 17, 2021
Thank you for being such a wonderful friend.
I have so many wonderful memories.
Holidays around the world, weekends away, evenings around the dinner table. 
You enriched my life enormously. I learned to ski at the age of 50 with your encouragement.
G&Ts at the Harbourmaster, coffee and crosswords in the Hive made the times at Aberaeron so special. I loved our shopping trips, with the obligatory stops for coffee and lunch.
Your enthusiasm for life, your care and concern for others, your generosity towards everyone whose life you touched will stay with me forever.
You were taken far far too soon leaving an unfillable gap in all our lives. 
Rest in peace dearest friend. X

Share a story

 
Illustrate your story with a picture, music or video (optional):