Tributes paid to Rosie Hope founder of Open Christmas

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Tributes paid to Rosie Hope founder of Open Christmas

Personal tributes have been paid to the strong Christian faith of Rosie Hope who, with husband Michael, founded Open Christmas in Norwich 25 years ago.

Paying tribute to his wife of 55 years, who died on June 5, aged 80, Michael said: “Rosie’s strong Christian faith was the most important thing in her life.”
The Catholic couple, who worship at St Benet’s in Beccles, launched the well-known Open Christmas venture 25 years ago at St Andrew’s Hall in Norwich and it is still going strong, alongside a sister project in Great Yarmouth.
It aims to provide free food, company and entertainment for the homeless and those alone at Christmas. Launched in 1992 the couple led it personally for 20 years.

“My dear mum had such a kind heart,” says older daughter Hettie. “She was terribly unhappy that some people had nowhere to go at Christmas. I think she felt everybody should have somewhere to go.”

It would be 2012 before the couple had another traditional Christmas Day at home, after they took a step back.

Born in India in 1938, Rosie was the daughter of a colonel in the British Indian Army and lived in the country until independence in 1947.

Rosie and her sister came to England to go to school and her first job was as a photographer working for the British police in Cyprus where he father was working.

She met Michael while working in London and they married in 1964 and lived in Cambridge, having three children, Hettie, Louisa and James.
The couple moved to Suffolk to plant a vineyard and then to Norwich with Michael’s work with IBM, living in Thurton in South Norfolk.

Rosie did voluntary work at Ferry Cross drugs project in Norwich from where the Open Christmas idea came and developed in the city.
Great Yarmouth Open Christmas followed five years later.

Rosie had a strong Catholic faith. She cherished pilgrimages and regularly went to the shrine in Little Walsingham. She and Michael travelled in Europe in the ’90s; and visited shrines at Medjugorje, Lourdes and Santiago de Compostela.

Rosie had a heart attack about five years ago, and the couple left Thurton for Beccles in 2016 – downsizing

Hettie said: “She was very religious and I think it’s that Christian belief that drove her to do Open Christmas. I think she felt she led a fortunate life and wanted to share that with other people.

“When your mother dies, people always say nice things to you, but everyone’s always said what a kind-hearted person she was. She did have a real gift of being able to connect instantly with people. They could see her intentions were so good; I think that was it.”

Rosie’s funeral is at St Benet’s Minster Catholic Church, Grange Road, Beccles at 12 noon on June 26. All are welcome.
Read a full obituary about Rosie at EDP24
Pictured above is Rosie Hope in 2004 Picture from Hope family.