Story by Jamito Lang, Isilda’s eldest son | Photos by Stephen and Jamito Lang and Richard Hanson
My mum, former childminder and community warrior Isilda Del Carmen Lang (nee Cuevas-Aguilera), died on Monday 21st February 2022, in the care of the wonderful staff at the Northern General’s Macmillan Palliative Care Unit.
She lived and breathed Burngreave and was extremely proud of residing here. She leaves behind her beloved ‘gringo’ husband of 42 years, Jamie, my brother Stephen and me, and her grandchildren Aaron, Naia, Theo and Ana May.
Born in 1953, Mum was brought up by her grandmother Rosa in Tomé, a seaside town in Chile. In 1977, she escaped political persecution by coming to Sheffield. She volunteered for the Red Cross and became a Centre Officer, a role which led her to providing aid on the ground during the Hillsborough disaster.
She was a staunch defender of Burngreave and Pitsmoor and would not hear a bad word be said about the area and its people. “Even if I win millions, I wouldn’t move from this place,” she said to the Messenger in 2002.
She trudged up and down its hills in her role as a Sure Start Family Support worker, serving families new to the area and the country, many refugees such as herself. She helped bring up some of Burngreave’s community as a childminder, a second mum to some. She co-founded the St James’ Parents and Toddlers playgroup, still going strong as the Pitsmoor Baby and Toddler Group, continuing her legacy.
She worked closely with Green City Action, and worked hard as part of the Chilean community, including coordinating a project of arpilleras, Chilean patchworks, which saw display in many places including Abbeyfield House, the Millenium Gallery and the United Nations building in Geneva.
She won awards, including for the promotion of and education around breastfeeding, a Burngreave Area Panel New Years Honours Award in 2009, Outstanding Contribution to the Burngreave Community in the Sheffield City Council Burngreave New Year’s Honours 2016, and a Burngreave Community Star Award in 2019.
Isilda loved her garden and DIY, usually with a Walkman playing into her one good ear. When she was ill, the garden was her sanctuary. She even constructed a treehouse for her grandchildren as her final project. It’s fitting that her funeral took place around the Spring Equinox, Monday 21st March 2022. It was led by Rev Dr Inderjit Bhogal at Grenoside Crematorium.