Search

Obituary: Barbara Foster, Polish emigre, mother and dressmaker to Margaret Thatcher, dies aged 87

09:00 01 August 2014

Barbara Foster, dress maker to Margaret Thatcher, has died aged 87

Barbara Foster, dress maker to Margaret Thatcher, has died aged 87

Archant

Barbara Foster, who was born Barbara Pszczolkowska on March 27, 1927 in Warsaw in Poland, the middle child of a family of four siblings.

Her earliest life was spent in Paprotnia, in a house, she told us, where Napoleon stayed on his way to Russia. Later the family moved to Blonie, near Warsaw, where her father worked for the railways.

Her early life was marked by the Second World War and the Nazi occupation of Poland - her father died from tuberculosis, her brother Jerzy worked for the underground, the ‘Armii Krajowa’ (Home Army), and was jailed for his undercover activities.

She herself was captured at 16 years of age, with her younger sister, part of German reprisals in response to the doomed 1944 Warsaw uprising.

Young people were active in the resistance, and thus, fell under suspicion. She recalled being taken in a goods train to a camp, surrounded by barbed wire.

While in transit to another camp, she managed to escape, in part due to the help of a ‘volksdeutsch’ (half German, half Polish) woman, hiding in the countryside in the harsh winter conditions to reach home before Christmas.

She survived the war, finished her interrupted education, with her sister as the only girls at a Franciscan school, and toured Poland as the leading light of a youth theatre group.

In the post-war years of communism, she worked in Warsaw in a government department. Tired of the privations of life in Stalinist Poland, she took a chance to leave for England in the 1960s to meet Michael Krawczyk.

A Polish émigré and widower, he’d also escaped a Nazi camp, and arrived in England earlier, with the Home Army forces at the end of the war.

They married and brought up two children in Doncaster.

Her later years were spent in London, which she dearly loved.

After retraining as a dressmaker, she worked in Hampstead, set up her own business in Covent Garden, and after her husband’s death, at Aquascutum.

She was proudest of working for Peggy Ashcraft and going to Number 10 to fit Margaret Thatcher.

With her typical energy and enthusiasm, she made the most of her retirement to do things she had not had time for - learning to swim at 70, taking classes to improve her English, and writing her memoirs, from which this information is taken.

She is remembered for her warmth, spirit, and ability to find joy in life.

She died peacefully on July 18.

She will be much missed by her much-beloved family.

The funeral will be held today at Golders Green Crematorium at 10am.

0 comments

Comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

Monday, December 1, 2014
David Kitchen, chair of SEGA, and Prof. David Ketterer at the Pond St entrance to

It’s a “rather grim” alleyway that serves as a little else but a store for rubbish and recycling.

Mark Beard, headteacher of University College School in Hampstead, where shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt was a pupil. Picture: Dieter Perry

Hampstead and Highgate’s private school leaders have united against Labour’s plans to revoke tax breaks for independent schools if they don’t support the state sector – after the head of the shadow education secretary’s old school accused the MP of “offensive bigotry”.

Talia Angel, now 17, after surgery and Botox injections after a missed brain tumour left her with a facial deformity

A teenager left with a facial deformity and unable to move her eye after a brain tumour went undetected for three years, has won a five-year fight for compensation to aid her recovery.

All men: The line-up of commendation winners in October, with borough commander BJ Harrington and Mayor of Camden Lazzaro Pietragnoli. Picture: Polly Hancock

Police in Camden have rejected accusations of sexism after figures revealed female officers are far less likely to be recognised for bravery or excellent police work.

Most read news

Winds of 88mph (141kph) and mutant hailstones meant it certainly wasn’t barbecue weather.

EastEnders actress Linda Henry will go on trial accused of racially aggravated harassment.

If this adorable thank you card is anything to go by, we can’t wait to see their Christmas card.

Just in case you were wondering, Westminster Cathedral isn’t a mosque.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition