'To our unforgettable mum, Becky Pullen, on her 50th birthday'

Becky Pullen was a weekly columnist for The News from 2000-2002, writing about the trials and tribulations of being a young mum of three and sharing her opinion on subjects ranging from politics to Pompey.

Becky and her son Dan in 2001.
Becky and her son Dan in 2001.

Becky died in 2014 after a year-long battle with cancer.

On what would have been her 50th birthday, her three children Joely, Lily and Daniel Pullen have written this tribute to their inspirational and unforgettable mum as a birthday gift.

Picture this, it’s a Tuesday night in 2001. Otherwise known as “column night”in our house.

Becky Pullen pictured in 2001.

Mum is sitting at the chunky desktop computer in the dining room. The looming deadline for this week’s column is responsible for the do-not-disturb-me expression, the distant sound of chaos, and the neglected cup of tea. Even Clippy, the Microsoft office assistant, is having a hard time distracting her (does anyone remember him?)

She is probably writing about how she wishes the three of us children came with an instruction manual; how Blair and Blunkett need to get their act together; or perhaps the fact she might be the only woman under 30 who doesn’t know who Will Young is.

Fast forward 20 years and Joely, who was then eight, is now 28. Five-year-old Lily is 25 and Dan, the three-year-old toddler is 22. We are now adults. Real adults, mortgages and all.

We are reflecting on the time in our lives we are so lucky to have documented. Our mum wrote weekly columns for The News from 2000-2002 occasionally sharing her opinion on politics, the coming of the internet era, and the struggles of being married to a Pompey fan.

The three siblings together in 2018. From left: Lily, Joely and Daniel Pullen.

But mainly and unapologetically describing the life of a 30-year-old mum of three young children and all the trials and tribulations that go with it – nativity performances, the mystery of the lost remote control, trying the caffeine detox, goldfish burials and hilarious letters to the tooth fairy.

We mean it when we say we are lucky. Retold childhood memories often evolve over time but here we have hundreds of concrete stories straight from the horse’s mouth. We sit reflecting on these columns from the three different parts of the world – Spain, Waterlooville and Oxfordshire – which we now call home.

Although her ‘three angels/caged lions/skids’ (her words exactly) no longer live under the same roof in Southsea, we agree that her voice narrates these memories as we laugh, cringe and cry at the things we used to do. Daniel the shepherd in the school nativity wiping his eyes with either side of the tea towel over his head; Lily’s memorable angel duet; and Joely’s ‘New Year’s revolutions’.

How life comes full circle!

Becky with her daughters Lily and Joely in their Southsea garden in 1997.

We are no longer the subject of the story but the authors instead.

Our words to describe our mum could fill a book but with the limit we have, this will have to do. We write these words to say happy 50th birthday to our Mum, a woman who once typed the sincere struggle of turning the big 3-0. Today is her day – half a century.

Becky to most, Bex to a few, Rebecca to even fewer, but to us – mum, to you on your birthday.

As a young mum with drive and determination, you juggled the complexities of bringing up the three of us while working as a marketing consultant, a school governor, writing a weekly column, keeping our house in one piece and doing it all with the latest hairstyle, manicured nails and enviable wardrobe to match.

Even if you alluded to ‘not having it all together’ in your columns and shouting up the stairs far more than you would have liked, to us you were and always have been flawless.

Embarrassing mum moments can be counted on one hand (okay, maybe two), and we think that is surprisingly good going for a parent. Your tally is much lower than dad’s, put it that way!

Perhaps your tell-it-as-it-is nature and very brash delivery caused a few beetroot faces on occasions, but it’s something we reflect on now with admiration. Knowing what you wanted with audacious belief and certainty is a characteristic I hope you have passed on to the three of us.

Recently reflecting on your columns as adults has highlighted just how much of yourself you gave to us, but also how you didn’t allow the identity of a young, busy mum to swallow you.

When you weren’t describing our weekly antics, you voiced your opinion on things you cared about, topics you felt should be spoken about and made an effort to make a difference. Not only during the two years you wrote for The News but long before and long after. You are a memorable figure in the community, a real support to friends and family, and we are sure many people can agree that you are one of life’s special ones.

As we grew up, you supported us in more ways than just managing our social calendars, labelling every single item of school clothing, and taking us from A to B. As the undeniable lynchpin of our family, you created our entire world, made it safe, spotless, and full of love.

The events of your life subsequently led us to meet, know and love the additional parents in our lives. Our wonderful dad, of course, but also Sally and Steve who are irreplaceable, continue to look after us and keep their promise to you.

Your repetitive words will certainly stay with us: ‘Okie dokie – be good’, ‘What did you last slave die of?’ and ‘Love you darling’ to name a few.

But more than that, the conversations, the advice, the guidance throughout the crucial years of our lives have made us who we are.

Despite the past conversations we shared recently hitting the seven-year mark, we are grateful to say you gave us enough love to last our lifetime.

Sadly, this is not only a happy birthday but a tribute. A tribute to our mum – our inspirational mum – who passed away aged 42 in March 2014.

You would have turned 50 today, and in celebration of you and your timeless memory, we wish you a happy birthday.

Seven years later, reading your columns has been a therapeutic blessing. In some way it feels as though we have spent the evening with you, laughing, crying, and cringing as you retell stories from one chapter of your life with us.

It has often been said that we regret not having much footage of you moving, laughing, or speaking. But these stories typed by your hands and written from your heart are so much sweeter.

Happy 50th mum, you got to 50 without the wrinkles to prove it! To you on your special birthday with infinite love – Joely, Lily, and Daniel.

:: We are selecting some of our personal favourite columns which we will be retyping and making available for everyone to enjoy on portsmouth.co.uk. We have also created a donation link as an opportunity for anyone who would have sent a bouquet of flowers, bought a glass of fizz, or posted a card to be able to donate in her memory instead. All funds go to Cancer Research UK. Go to justgiving.com/fundraising/beckyportsmouthnews

Thank you for reading our story.’