Farewell to ‘the little lady on the bicycle’

A FAMILIAR face in and around St Albans, Babs Yule, has died at the age of 90.

Babs, who lived in Upper Culver Road, St Albans, was born with achondroplasia, better known as dwarfism, and was only four feet tall.

But she still managed to live life to the maximum, working full time for many years, volunteering at St Albans Abbey and being a well-loved member of the Abbey Theatre.

Babs was the daughter of a schoolmaster but never went to school herself because none of those close to her home in Much Hadham would take her because of her small stature. As a result she, and initially her sister Betty, were educated at home by their father who taught at Haileybury School in Hertford.

Growing up, Babs was a Guide patrol leader with a passion for camping and being with other people and she was also good at art and designing and making clothes. When she was 18, she was accepted to study fashion design at St Martins College of Art but was forced to give it up when war broke out.

She worked on the land and was then assigned to technical training as an instrument maker. She was sent to work at Marconi Instruments where she was the only female instrument maker and remained there until she retired in 1980.

While working, Babs became a committee member of the Restricted Growth Association (RGA) which helped people get the right medical help for their children born with achondroplasia and other conditions.

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A keen cyclist, who was instantly recognisable to many as, “the little lady on the bicycle”, she cycled to work every day, not learning to drive until she was 58.

After retiring, she spent 20 years working as a volunteer in the Abbey refectory and was a member of the Abbey Theatre since the 1960s where she worked as a prompt, front of house and in the wardrobe department.

In her 80s Babs lost the use of her legs but continued to live at home with her cat and a student called Kenneth who stayed in her house and helped her in return for lodgings.

But in 2006 a medical injury meant a long stay in hospital and subsequently a nursing home before being able to get home.

Babs celebrated her 90th birthday with friends and family from all over the world in July and in October, less than a month before her death, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the RGA.

Her funeral is being held at 2pm on Monday, November 22, at West Herts Crematorium in Garston and a celebration of her life will be held afterwards at the Abbey Theatre.