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Tributes to ex model who "always had a twinkle in her eye"
TRIBUTES have been paid to a former model who "lit up any room she entered".
Avril James modelled at the Festival of Britain and worked for a top London boutique that included the Royal Family among its clients during a colourful career before settling in Bucks.
The mother of two died at The Lindens Care Home, Stoke Hammond, on Tuesday, December 3 at the age of 85. Her funeral took place at the Chilterns Crematorium in Amersham on Monday, December 16.
After being born in Kilburn, Avril's family moved to Bedfordshire to take over the running of a pub before the outbreak of World War Two. Her father Harold - a veteran of World War One, having been a submariner - was a fireman in London during the Blitz.
After various jobs around Bedfordshire Avril became a typist for British Rail at Marylebone at the age of 20, in the meantime keeping her eyes peeled for modelling jobs despite her only experience being watching models on the catwalk during fashion shows at Selfridges.
She was given a break by a tailor working in Grosvenor Square - who helped get her a job with a Mayfair agency by saying in a reference she had worked with him for three months rather than the two weeks she actually spent there.
Customers with the agency included the Royal family and Jordanian princesses, and during her time there she met stars including Elizabeth Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
After the birth of her two children, Simon and Aramantha, she settled first in Woodcroft Road, Chesham, and later in Lincoln Park, Amersham.
That brought the curtain down on her modelling career and she started work with G Recordi and Co, a large catalogue of composers and hire library of famous operas based at The Bury in Chesham. She was originally taken on for two days' work through an agency and ended up staying there for 22 years, before retiring aged 68.
In retirement she ran an antiques group for seven years, also enjoying art, opera, gardening, films and foreign culture.
Her two children said: "She was a wonderful mother, caring, thoughtful, generous in nature and heart.
"People were immediately drawn to her, and she lit up any room she entered. She had a rare gift when talking to people and making them feel as though they were they were the most important people in the world. She was stylish and elegant. She always had a twinkle in her eye, and a wicked sense of humour.
"She was not religious, but lived life with a strong moral compass, and had a compassionate nature.
"She will be remembered for being a great mother – always there, always supportive, a superb and involved grandmother – always taking delight in the latest achievements of her four grandchildren, Sonoma, Madison, Francesca and Liberty.
"She was fun, sharp witted and loved by all her family and friends."
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