It’s with sadness I recently learned of the passing of well known woman, Velma Andreini (nee Valerio).
Of course, she will be remembered by most folks in Blantyre for her association with The Cafe de Royale (wee Mickeys Cafe) where so many local people enjoyed delicious ice cream and fizzy ginger.
Velma and her brother Tommy were first generation Italians born in Scotland. Velma, born in the late 1920’s was the eldest daughter of Clementus Valerio (aka Mickey) and Elvira (nee Santoro), both immigrants from the Lazio region of Italy who were hoping to make a new life and new start in Scotland.
The family suffered a terrible tragedy when Antonia, Velma’s younger sister died in a road traffic accident at the corner of Station Road and Glasgow Road. Her sister lost her young life in 1947 aged only 9 when she had been crossing the road to visit her Aunt and Uncle at Vincie’s fish shop (Mrs Lombardi was a sister of Velma’s mother).
Her brother Tommy married Nancy but neither that couple, nor Velma herself ever had any living children.
As has often been documented, the family worked very hard to run a successful business. There were long hours in the cafe, much competition and it was their efforts and sheer determination that drove their successes. It is a fine testament to their legacy that people, even so many decades on still talk about their business with fond memories.
It is fair to say Velma’s parents were strict, especially when suitors came around! She had a likeable personality and made friends easily. Like most young women, she loved fashion, brightly coloured clothes and shoes and was never without makeup and her nails done! The Italian love of sunshine was apparent as she loved her foreign holidays, especially cruises with cousin Carlo Lombardi.
Velma married Luigi Andreini, a chef from Glasgow. Tempted by a better lifestyle and job prospects the couple moved across the Atlantic to Newark, New Jersey a place they called home and made many new friends. After his death in 1997, Velma took the decision in 2004 to move back to Scotland, not forgetting her roots. This was helped by the fact she had kept in touch with family and friends at St Joseph’s Church. She chose Blantyre to come back to.
Later in Life
She planned her own future care remaining independent in an assisted living flat in Hunthill Road in High Blantyre. Even though she had various health problems, she rarely complained. She enjoyed her time there living in a secure and friendly environment.
When lockdown hit in March 2020, this was a confusing time for residents in the assisted living complex. A difficult time too for Velma, a particularly social person who suddenly found she could not mix even with others in her communal areas or dining areas. Unfortunately, she had a serious fall during this time, breaking a vertebra in her neck and fractured her pelvis. It meant a stay of some 12 weeks in nearby Udston Hospital at the height of the pandemic! She was not permitted visitors in that time, though a cousin looked out for her.
As you may expect, this feisty, determined woman pulled through and was assessed fit enough to return home with a care package put in place. The effects of the hospitalisation and recent events did however take a toll and it became clear to concerned family and friends, that she needed 24 hour care.
A vacancy came up at reputable Auchlochan Garden Retirement Village and Velma was made to feel most welcome by the caring staff there. The location was convenient for family in Dumfriesshire and Lanarkshire. She loved the location too, knowing it was safe and secure. Time though (as it will for us all), eventually caught up with Velma.
She passed away peacefully at Lower Johnshill Care Home, Auchlochan Garden Village, Lesmahagow on Monday 12th July 2021, aged 94. Velma was the loving wife of the late Luigi Andreini who died in 1997 and of the late William Jones who died in 1981, pre deceased by her brother Tommy, sister-in-law Nancy and sister Antonia.
The family have announced funeral details. Funeral Mass will be held at St Joseph’s R.C. Church, Blantyre on Thursday 22nd July at 10am. All are respectfully invited to attend, followed by a private family cremation service. Any enquiries please call Joseph Potts Funeral Home, 01698 822236. No flowers please.
As tributes and social media comments come in, I will add my own by saying, though I didn’t know Velma very well, I had the utmost pleasure of meeting her on several occasions and I listened to her speaking about Blantyre’s history as intently as she did back. She was incredibly knowledgable about Blantyre’s past and I immediately could see the likeable charm in her character that so many others can also speak of. I offer my most sincere sympathies to Carmen and the rest of the family at this sad and difficult time.
Rest in Peace Velma. You were one in a million!