In memory of Brenda…
Extreme ironing founder, Steam, and his team are ironing the Hastings Half Marathon in memory of Brenda Szomszor, who died of cancer on 7th May 2011. Steam’s mother spent her final days at St Michael’s Hospice, being cared for by the fantastic staff and died with her family around her.
Brenda is said to have inspired the whole extreme ironing movement in the first place: visitors to her home will know that she was very house-proud. Everything was ironed. Not just the usual things, but handkerchiefs, tea towels, socks and pants.
And a bit of that rubbed off on her son Phil, who decided to take ironing to a new level in 1997 when he stepped out into his garden with a basket full of wrinkled shirts. When his housemate came home and asked what he was doing, Phil replied, “extreme ironing”. It was the start of a movement. Phil adopted the moniker, “Steam” and formed the Extreme Ironing Bureau, dedicated to promoting ironing in unusual locations.
Phil dedicated his book Extreme Ironing to Brenda, but to the people of Hastings, she was known for much more than being the mother to the extreme ironing founder.
Brenda lived in Hastings for 33 years. During that time, she worked as a special needs classroom assistant at St Mary Star of the Sea school, a welfare officer for the Civil Service and a Ward Clark at the Royal East Sussex Hospital. For many years she was an active member of the Holy Redeemer Parish in Hollington, where she co-founded the bereavement service and child protection service. When she moved to Guestling, Brenda joined the community at the Star of the Sea Parish and was an active member of the flower arranging team.
Brenda loved the outdoors; she took great pleasure in her garden and took an interest in conservation projects, such as the National Trust and Woodland Trust and was a keen walker, being a member of two walking groups. Another group Brenda was very active was Benenden Benevolent Society, which she active with committee and fundraising work for many years.
Brenda influenced a great many people and communities. She was a loving, wife, mother, sister and friend. Brenda had extraordinary faith, strength and optimism and, though deeply missed, will remain an inspiration.