“Do what you like with me but let my dogs alone”
Believed to be Romany, Bertha lived in a caravan on Christian Fields. She was well known for pushing a pram around Lichfield city centre accompanied by a number of stray dogs. The dogs were well fed and cared for but she was thin and undernourished. In 1981, one of her dogs was accused of biting a child and magistrates ordered it be destroyed. A local pensioner started a petition and another wrote to Prince Charles. The dog was not put down. In 1989, Bertha’s caravan was gutted by a mystery fire. A local dealer replaced it and the people of Lichfield brought her food and furnishings. One said “Bertha was a hell of a character. She was very proud and a law unto herself…….very forthright, very suspicious and would take no nonsense from anyone”.
She died on Christmas Day 1994 and is buried in St Chad’s Churchyard. In 2011 a petition was launched to erect a memorial to her but nothing came of it. Bertha’s respect from local residents at that time is in stark contrast to way in which the travelling community is regarded and treated by the local community today. This has been highlighted several times in the last couple of years.