Sheila loved the job and got on really well with the staff and customers. The Moat House was also the hotel used by the company I worked at. If there were meetings for our branch managers and staff this would be the hotel they stayed at and held meetings. Also any staff social events were also held there.
One day the lads had been on a golfing day, as was usual in the sales office as incentives and after, they had a meal at the Moat House and then stayed drinking. They were saying what a good night they had, evidently the barmaid was a real laugh and made their night. I asked one of the lads what her name was and they said Sheila, I said she was the bar manager and she was also my daughter. It was a good job they were saying nice things about her. They became regulars there.
She was earning good money now and decided to buy another car as her current one was a bit of a heap. She had set her heart on a Ford Cortina. There was one in the local paper at around £500 just mot`d so she rang them and arranged for us to go and look at it. We did and it was in good condition and the engine sounded nice. We asked if we could test drive it and they said yes. The husband sat in the back and I drove, Sheila felt a little nervous. it drove really nice, the steering felt really positive the only thing I didnt like was the colour, it was yellow but Sheila liked it. Needless to say she bought it, we had to wait for the cheque to clear then we went to collect it.
Mike my ex husband came over to have a look at it and gave it the all clear and said it seemed to be a nice tidy car. Sheila soon got used to it and was here there and everywhere.
She received a letter from Dennis saying his release date was 23rd October, 3 weeks away she had previously arranged to pick him up from the prison. He had decided to go the next day 24th to stay with friends in Newark, Notts as we didnt have any room for him at our house. I worried about this because as far as I knew his friends were all junkies , so it would only be a matter of time before he was back on the drugs. He said he was looking forward to seeing her new car.
By the time Steve and I got home from work Dennis and Allie were great mates. Sheila and Dennis had taken both dogs out for a long walk, to Dennis this was amazing after being cooped up in prison for the last year and a bit. He loved Sheila`s car and between them they had decided that Sheila was going to take him to Newark the next day and Steve was deciding whether to take the day off and go with them. He hated taking time off unautherised. Sheila didnt have to be at work until 6.00pm so she had loads of time.
I cooked a really nice dinner for Dennis`s homecoming, I felt a bit guilty about not letting him stay with us but it would have meant he had to sleep on the sofa and this was just not practical. He understood , I think.
We talked for hours trying to cover all that had happened in the last year or so, to us and him. I begged him not to get involved with drugs again and he promised that he wouldnt. I went to bed they stayed chatting away. Steve had decided not to go to Newark.
The next morning Dennis was already up and dressed, as he had slept on the sofa and I could hear Sheila in the bathroom. I had got up extra early to make them breakfast before their journey. Just before I left for work I again asked Dennis to stay off the drugs. Sheila was laid on the floor in front of the fire with Allie at her side. I said have a good journey and stay safe and I would see her later and to ring me when she got home. They were going to leave at about 08.30am.
My lunchhour was at 1.00pm-2.00pm and I was surprised not to have heard from Sheila, this was in the days before mobile phones, so I could understand she may have difficulty finding a public telephone. I rang home, initially at about 1.00pm but no reply, then about every ten minutes after that , nothing. Then I thought maybe my home phone wasnt ringing so I got in the car and drove home hoping to see her yellow car parked outside the house but no it wasnt, by now I was sure something was wrong, I had this terrible feeling, I couldnt get it out of my mind, I drove back to work and rang again , still no answer. I spoke to a workmate Ross and she said maybe she had broken down but I said if she had she would have somehow got a message to me.
It got to 3.00pm still nothing, by now I knew something was really wrong I cant explain this feeling I had , it was a sort of emptyness, a feeling that something really terrible had happened. Ross said maybe she had decided to stay over with Dennis but I knew this was out of the question, even if she had , she would have rung me. I dont know how I got through the afternoon I was a nervous wreck and these horrible feelings were intensifying .
At last 5.00pm came and I went home hoping and praying that Sheila`s car would be parked outside but it wasnt. As I was going up the stairs Rene, the next door neighbour said a policeman and woman had been knocking on my door this afternoon and she had told them I was at work but she didnt know where I worked. My heart dropped, I was now sure my feelings were real. I couldnt stop shaking I wondered where Steve, was then realised it was wednesday and he would be at Lesley`s.
I wanted to ring the police station but I was too scared, I didnt want to hear what they had to say but I knew I had to. With such a feeling that the next few minutes could change my life forever I rang them. I explained that the police, according to my neighbour had been to my door and that I had just come home from work. I didnt mention anything about Sheila. I gave them my name and he came back on the line and said someone would be with me in the next ten minutes. I begged him to tell me what it was about but he wouldnt.
I had still got my coat on as I had been stood looking out of the window, hoping against hope that my beautiful daughter would drive up and tell me not to be so stupid. Instead it was a police car.
I quickly put the dogs in the lounge and let them in, I could tell by their faces that it was serious. My mind was working overtime . The policewoman asked me if there was anyone else in the house, I said no could she please tell me what was going on. She said there was no easy way of saying what she had to say and I said just please tell me, is it about my daughter? she then said was my daughter Sheila Prior I said yes then I started shaking , then was her car reg PVX 357R I nodded yes. I said please tell me and she said she had been involved in an accident and unfortunately had died at the scene. I heard this screaming and suddenly realised it was me, although I knew but didnt know, confirmation was just too much. I ended up in a heap on the floor. I was on my own, I needed Lesley and Stephen desperately. The shaking continued , my head was throbbing, had I heard right, this couldnt be happening but the police were there so yes it was real. They asked if they could call someone to be with me I said to ring my daughter please.
The policewoman got me to the chair and I waited for my children, I needed them like I had never needed them before. This just cant be happening.