Anne and David Jacobs – A Tale of Two Orphans

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David Jacobs met his future wife, Anne, at the Norwood Jewish Orphanage. They were both sent there as young children because their widowed parents were unable to care for their large families. This meeting was to be the first of a number of coincidences that shaped their lives.

They married in 1936 and when war was declared, David, or ‘Dave’ as he was known, volunteered for the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS). He continued that service in Leicester. Anne was a wartime Fire Warden. They were evacuated in 1940 and chose Leicester because, of the three towns on offer, it was the nearest to London with a Jewish community.

Anne, David, baby Michael, Deborah Jacobs and friend, Skegness 1946

Anne, David, baby Michael, Deborah Jacobs and friend, Skegness 1946

City Embroidery Company

Dave was a ladies’ tailor. He set up in business in Humberstone Road trading as “Sunday Suits”. In those days of rationing, business was tough so when he was offered the chance to take on embroidery work for a customer, despite having no knowledge of that trade, he grasped the opportunity. Hence, City Embroidery Company was born, providing Dave and Anne with an income for the rest of their lives. Dave’s sister, Debbie, who had also been evacuated from London and was by then living with the family, became his business partner and factory manageress.

Carisbrooke Road

Dave and Anne originally lived in the Clarendon Park area, but soon after their son, Michael, was born in 1945, they moved to Carisbrooke Road. Thus occurred a second coincidence. Monty Simmons had been a supplier of trimmings to Sunday Suits and Dave told him of a house coming up for sale two doors away from their new home. Ann and Monty Simmons bought the house and this began a lifelong friendship between the two families. Their children were of similar ages and Anne Jacobs and Ann Simmons were so close that hardly a day went by when they didn’t talk together either in person or on the phone – or both!

Two Jacobs Babies

The third coincidence occurred when their daughter, Susan, was born in 1948 in Fielding Johnson Nursing home. In the same nursing home Doreen Jacobs, another member of the Leicester Jewish community, had given birth to Laurence two days earlier. The first they knew of each other’s existence was when gifts and flowers were delivered to the wrong “Mrs Jacobs”! Susan and Laurence subsequently married each other.

Community Involvement

Dave was a keen gardener and built himself a conservatory in which he grew grapes and made wine. He was very artistic and used to paint in oils. Susan still has one of his paintings of the back garden of Carisbrooke Road with the flowers in full bloom. He hand-made the embroidered royal blue curtain for the ark in Leicester’s Synagogue. The curtain is still in use today.

A long-time member of the Synagogue Committee, Dave served as Treasurer for two years and became President in the early 1970s. By this time he had retired from work although he still spent his days in his office in Wellington Street doing the shul books, which in those days was almost a full-time job as all of the ledgers, statements, etc. were hand-written.

Dave was a lifelong asthmatic, controlling his frequent attacks with steroids. He suffered a final asthma attack in December 1972, whilst he was still in office as President of the synagogue. He was admitted to Groby Road Hospital but died of heart failure on 23 December 1972.

Anne had been a highly regarded member of the office staff of a London sugar merchant but, once they moved to Leicester, she became a full-time housewife and mother. In later life, she learnt the piano but her main love was serving the Jewish community. She was a founder-member of Ziona, the younger Jewish WIZO, and eventually became chairman of WIZO. She was rewarded for her many years’ service by having a plaque in her honour placed at The Jerusalem Baby Home. Anne was a much-loved member of the community and passed away in 1975.