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

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

Yesterday, 17:46
Mike Freer. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

With just under three weeks left until the general election, Conservative Mike Freer is locked in a fierce battle with Labour’s Sarah Sackman for re-election as Finchley and Golders Green MP. Tim Lamden caught up with Mr Freer ahead of the May 7 election.

Yesterday, 14:33
The number 13 bus. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has stepped in to save the much-loved number 13 bus service which was set to be scrapped by Transport for London (TfL).

Yesterday, 17:00
The boy dragged the female victim into the bushes in Ainger Road in Primrose Hill. Picture: Google Streetview

A boy has pleaded guilty to sexual assault after a woman was dragged into the bushes and had her clothes ripped off in a brutal attack in Primrose Hill.

Yesterday, 14:38
Officers found the young man lying on the ground in Gilbeys Yard. Picture: Google Streetview

Police officers helped save the life of a young man after he was victim to a brutal stabbing in the heart of Camden Town.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

The latest North London property news and features straight into your inbox.

Other Emails:
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Glen Moray whiskey could be winging its way to you.

The Glen Moray Classic is a classic Speyside single malt and forms the starting point for the Classic Range.

Seasons 1-4 on Blu-ray, as well as a shiny new Sony Blu-ray player could be coming your way!

To celebrate the fifth series of George RR Martin and HBO’s epic fantasy Game of Thrones, Ladbrokes is giving away a series one to four Blu-ray box set along with a Sony Blu-ray player to one lucky winner!

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder