Anne Phillips (nee Marriot)
Sadly Anne has passed away. My sincere condolences go to Anne’s family, friends and former colleagues at this time. Anne, BUA hostess, and wife of the late Jim Phillips (AKA our man in Brazil), had been living in South America where Jim spent a good portion of his career.
Anne's service was held on 4th March 2016 in the Christ Church in Rio de Janeiro
From George Banks
I was very sad to hear of Annie's passing. She was one of BUAs most beautiful hostesses in her time. I only knew her after this when she worked at the famous 5 star Copacabana Palace hotel in Rio, making a niche for herself by creating the best ever English Afternoon tea for the hotel. After this she became the Customer service front of house manager looking after VIPs and guests. She always looked immaculate and was absolutely charming. I always met her for tea or drinks when I visited Rio for work when with BA or on holiday. She set me a wonderful example of always rising above any problems that occurred. I know she will be terribly missed.
From Bob Bovill
I am very sorry indeed to learn that Anne (Annie) Marriott has died. She was a senior hostess, charming, kind and everything that a hostess should be. One could be sure that if Annie was on board there would never be any problems in the cabin with either passengers or cabin staff. My condolences to Anne’s family and friends.
From Anthea Wilson
My dearest friend and Godmother to my daughter Emma, who always put other people before herself, we loved her and she will be sorely missed.
From Vic Ball
I have just read the obituary to Annie Marriot so would just like to say how I endorse all the wonderful things that have been said of her. I managed to contact her by seeing the TV documentary re the Copacabana Hotel where she was VIP hostess a couple of years ago sending an E-Mail to her care of the Hotel. She had been quite poorly and went to stay with family in Sao Paulo to recuperate but as we now know sadly passed away. I have a nice photo of her dining with me and crew members in Fredericks restaurant in the Taj Mahal hotel Bombay. I remember too dancing well it was the twist then in the Aloaha night club when we were on the South American slip. So many wonderful memories of a wonderful lady, God Bless Annie. Vic Ball - Flight Engineer
Annie's Obituary by Elizabeth Wynn-Jones
Valerie Anne Phillips, M. B. E. “Annie” 04.08.1932 - 28.01.2016
Here we have a copy of Annie's obituary as published in "Umbrella", the monthly newsletter of the British & Commonwealth Society of Rio.
Annie, “our” Annie, passed away at the end of January in São Paulo, surrounded by the love and care of her devoted family and friends, pampered to the end, as she so richly deserved. Now is the time to revisit the life, achievements and especially the character of this remarkable member of Rio’s international community.
Curtain Up on Annie
Annie sidled to the centre stage of the expat scene - a position she would occupy with absolute discretion and modesty for the rest of her life - when she and her warm, booming Texan husband opened the Lord Jim, Rio’s first British pub, in August, 1974. “On opening night we didn’t know what to expect,” Annie said. “We hadn’t advertised the Pub; nobody knew about it, it was a case of ‘wait and see’ and hope for the best.” The waiting and seeing and hoping paid off, and for many years the Lord Jim was the hub for residents and visitors to Rio; it was a huge success. Why? “Being there, that’s what really matters,” she said. But in between polishing, stirring and tasting and smiling at customers, and “being there” she always managed to slip away to take care of what one friend called “The Annie Phillips One-Woman Charitable Foundation.” This covered aid, comfort and free pub meals for destitute gentlewomen, the poor and the elderly, the sick and dying - anybody she heard about who was in trouble and needed help.
Anne Phillips had a lively and varied career, more by accident than by design. Born in Hove, Sussex to actor parents, she was evacuated during the war. “After our house was bombed for the second time, I was sent off to the United States with a bunch of other children, for our own safety.” There she spent six years in the hills of New England, studying, skiing, ice-skating and acquiring what she called her “transatlantic” accent. Back in England in 1945, her mother had given up the stage and was running an inn in Devon. Mother gave Annie her first sewing machine and then shipped her off to France for a Cordon Bleu course. But domesticity didn’t appeal at all, and following the family stage tradition, she joined the Sadler’s Wells school, then directed by Dame Ninette de Valois, determined to become a ballet dancer. “My ballet career was short and sweet,” she explained. “Five years, to be exact. I spent three years with Sadler’s Wells, was in the cast of Oklahoma, did some film and TV work, and was doing nicely when I broke my foot while dancing a sort of wild Apache number at a cabaret in Rome with a boyfriend. I know they shoot horses, but they don’t shoot ballet dancers. They just become ex-ballet dancers.”
Please, fasten your seatbelts …
Picking herself up and dusting herself off with the cheerful aplomb that characterized her progress through life, Annie became an air hostess. “It was a good time,” she recalled. “In the early days it was much more personal and challenging. You felt it was your own plane, you had lots of responsibility.” She trained air hostesses from one end of the world to the other. Then suddenly, “I had reached the top of the airline world, there were no higher jobs for women in those days and I was 38, the mandatory retirement age for women.”
Time to pick herself up, dust herself off, and start over again. With the world to choose from, Annie picked Rio, where she had spent time training hostesses - and had met Jim Phillips, then manager of British United Airways. “I suddenly realized that after working for 21 years I wasn’t really equipped for anything.” Still undaunted, she taught English at the Cultura Inglesa for a few months, then got a job with the catering service at Galeão Airport. This landed her back in the world of food: costing, buying and planning food and menus, and, more importantly for her future, learning even more about managing staff. Annie couldn’t type, but, being Annie, she taught herself, and moved on to become secretary to the general manager of the Sheraton Hotel.
To outsiders, the Pub years might have appeared the glory years, but …“It’s not glamorous at all,” said Annie. “It’s very hot and dirty and very hard work. Cleanliness in a kitchen is unnatural, it’s a constant battle. You can’t ask staff to cook a dish you can’t cook yourself, or to do anything that you can’t or won’t do yourself. Quality control is all. You only need to slip on one thing and you are on your way down.” On the way up, however, was afternoon tea. To her surprise, Annie found she was serving tea to crowds of Brazilian ladies, who tucked into cakes and scones with cream and jam as if they’d been doing it all their lives. Also on the way up, however, was the difficulty of running a business in Rio, and, with heavy hearts, she and Jim decided to sell the Lord Jim and move on to new challenges.
It was at this point that Annie confided to a friend that her real dream was to serve tea, in true Victorian style, at the Copacabana Palace Hotel. So off they went in search of Philip Carruthers, general manager of the Copa. He was game to give it a go, and so began Annie’s singular relationship with Rio’s premier hotel, and, very especially, its staff.
A heart full of grace
Throughout the Pub years, the Copa years and all the other years, Annie’s commitment to helping others was unwavering. “It’s just my nature,” she shrugged when pressed on the subject. “I always say yes, and I always manage to find time. Because I feel that if someone has a problem you must help them - and once you start you must not stop because people count on you. I don’t give them any more than they give me. The fact that you help them is thanks enough for me.”
Back at the Copa, Victorian tea was packing them in but with Eco ’92 on the agenda, Philip Carruthers threw down the gauntlet: “We will be hosting 15 Heads of State. This Hotel badly needs refurbishing. The air conditioners all rattle, and the water runs rusty brown from the taps.” Annie rose to the occasion. “I picked my staff, made uniforms for us all, and we set to work. Before the big obras, one of our jobs was to visit the bathrooms and run the water until it ran clear.”
The rest, as they say, is history, and certainly widely known, all over the world. It almost seems, in hindsight, that Annie’s whole life was spent preparing for her time at the Copa. She managed menus, sewed uniforms, she gave new meaning to the carioca concept of quality hospitality and she put her people skills to work such that all adored her, and learned so much from her. Annie hosted kings and queens, rogues and rock stars. She tiptoed barefoot through a noble’s suite to check on the flowers. She raced around the shops of Copacabana paying for acquisitions by royalty who never carry money. Nothing was too much trouble for Annie. The Copa was the centre of her universe, the staff her devoted family. Annie’s identify became indelibly forged with that of her home, the Palace by the Sea.
To know Annie was to love her. And we can still love her, as she hasn’t gone far. She has only slipped away into the next room. Her selflessness, her style, her modesty, her generosity, her laughter, her ethics and her high standards can still be with us when we remember her. Thank you, Annie.....for everything.
by Elizabeth Wynn-Jones
Here we have a message from Linda Ann Costa, Annie's daughter
Hello all you Annie fans out there,
I’m very pleased to write to you all to tell you about the two tributes to Annie held in Rio on Friday the 4th March 2016. I was waiting for the links to the photos, so that you could read about the events, and see pictures of them as well.
The first was at Christ Church, which attends the British & English-speaking communities in Rio. It’s a beautiful Church which shares grounds with the British school and the “Margaret Mee Garden”. This garden was dedicated to Margaret to immortalize her name and fame as one of the most respected botanist/artists in the world, specializing in the species of the Amazon Rain Forest. This very dedicated and talented artist was a personal friend of Annie’s, who was present at the ash-scattering ceremony for her late husband, Greville Mee. In this 1.5 min. video, you can get an idea of what the Garden looks like, and see Annie participating in that ceremony several years back.
There are other videos available about this astounding, adventuresome British lady, who went to the Amazon 15 times in 20 years, and whose life mission was to unveil the mystery & depict the beauty of its exuberant plant life.
So, back to Annie’s memorial, before the beginning of the religious service, the “Annie Memorial Task Force” (Elizabeth Wynn-Jones, Jennifer Byers , Tina Richardson & I), Alvaro, my husband, Andrea Natal, Olivia Richardson Mattos and a few other friends gathered in the Margaret Mee Garden, each said a few words about Annie, then I placed some of her ashes in the shade of the largest tree. A fitting place, in the Garden of Margaret, whom Annie admired so much.
The service was perfect, and in spite of the gridlock traffic that afternoon, we had a splendid turnout. The Chaplain, Mark Simpson, delivered an inspiring homily, and Tina & I spoke at the pulpit about Annie, and how special she was, how much we loved her and how she made a difference in our lives. We sang hymns & thanked Our Lord for lending Annie to us. Those who came signed the condolences book at the entrance.
Then we all went to the Copacabana Palace Hotel to attend the tribute prepared by Andrea Natal, the General Director, and her team. It was amazing. A very posh cocktail party, with tea, juices and champagne and a delicious spread of savory & sweet treats. After Andrea Natal spoke a bit about Annie and her dedication to the Hotel, four of Annie’s colleagues took turns saying how much they loved her, were inspired by her and how she taught them how to take pride and feel dignified by their work. It was very emotional. All during the event, photos of Annie, receiving royalty & heads of state, were being projected on a big screen.
Then, Andrea Natal said she wanted to sing a song for Annie. To the tune of an excellent pianist, she sang “Se todos fossem Iguais a Você” (“If everyone were just like you”).
But that’s not all!!! Then Andrea announced another homage: the unveiling of a photo of Annie in the Copa Hall of Fame, right next to Lady Di’s picture !!! The cherry on the cake !!!
Here are some photos taken by the photographer Miguel Sá, contracted by the Copa to cover the event.
The following evening, 5th March, I went to the beach in front of the Copa and put the rest of Annie’s ashes into the ocean. Part of her ashes are here at my house under our Santa Barbara tree, and a part have been sent to my sister, Tina Phillips, to put in her garden under the same apple tree where Daddy’s ashes were placed almost 20 years ago.
I hope those of you who weren’t able to be with us that day, enjoy the pictures and feel as if you participated, even from afar. I believe Annie was there with us, blushing and smiling down from heaven, enjoying every minute of the much deserved attention.
If you would like to leave a message in remembrance please drop me a line anytime
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