Sylvia was born in Walsall, England, the middle child of five. She grew up within the family business, Ditchfield’s Bakery, that her grandfather started in 1900. At the age of 18 she set off for the Birmingham College of Food and Domestic Arts, where she earned a four-year diploma in Food Sciences. It was here that she had the very good fortune of meeting her future husband, Brian, and the two were married on October 15th, 1966.
Before the year was out, Sylvia and Brian emigrated to Vancouver with a trunk full of sweaters, wool blankets and $900 between them. Their children, Lisa Mary (1967), Simon Thomas (1969) and Martin John (1970), were all born at St. Paul’s Hospital. In the winter of 1970, when Martin was just six weeks old, the family left Vancouver for the Sunshine Coast where Brian would set up and run a bakery for the Clayton family. Sylvia began working there in 1971 as head Cake Decorator. For the next 32 years, Sylvia’s flair, imagination and creativity were embodied by extraordinary cakes that graced the tables of thousands of homes and halls, celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, baptisms and weddings.
Sylvia was committed to her faith and very active within the Holy Family Catholic Church. She was a member of the Catholic Women’s League for over 50 years. She taught Catechism and helped organize weddings, baptisms and funerals. She was ordained an Extraordinary Minister, bringing comfort and Holy Communion to the sick and dying. She was a board member for Community Services and volunteered at the baby clinic, which brought her much joy. Water colour painting kept her busy in retirement but being a people person she was soon back at work, this time at AZUR in Clayton’s Trail Bay Centre.
Sylvia had time for everyone, but she took particular delight in her children and grandchildren. She will be dearly missed by all who knew her, but especially her loving and devoted husband, Brian; her children Lisa (Nic), Simon (Kelsey) and Martin (Yuki); her grandchildren Emma, Lily, Eva, Taiyo and Ruby; her sisters Anne Ditchfield, Mary Holdcroft and Teresa Orson; and her many nieces, nephews and extended family in England. Sylvia was predeceased by her dear brother, John Ditchfield.
As any visitor to the Blackwell house knew, Sylvia personified the warmest hospitality. She created a beautiful home, and the garden was hugely important to her, so too the tradition of preparing Sunday dinner for family and friends.
A funeral mass was held at Holy Family Parish on November 28, 2022.
In honour of Sylvia, please consider inviting your family
and dear friends for Sunday dinner.