The Upton Blues Festival in the pleasant riverside town of Upton upon Severn in Worcestershire has grown since the first festival in 2002 when just 19 bands appeared. The festival now has multiple venues, hundreds of bands and thousands of visitors. Being lovers of the blues we have visited this festival three times, camping on the field with friends and we always hear some great new music and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the festival. I am hugely grateful to the people that make the Upton Blues Festival happen and this year, while exploring the town, came upon this magnificent memorial bench.
Looking under the bridge at Upton upon Severn
The idea for the festival began from a conversation between Richard Tippin and Stewart McEwan at the June Jazz Festival in Upton upon Severn in 2001. Seven people each put £10 in to make the 2002 Blues festival happen and Richard Tippin remained as one of the organisers until his death in 2008. This lovely bench was installed the following year and remembers him and his contribution to the town. The bench is placed under the bridge by the river Severn and the plaque tells the story of the beginnings of the Upton Blues Festival in rhyme. I will make sure I pass by the bench every time we go to the festival in the future and give a thought to the people that make it happen.
It was a beautiful sunny morning when we stopped to look around Kirkhouse cemetery on the island of South Ronaldsay. This lovely cemetery is on a stunning bay and I spent some time reading the memorials on the graves before pottering through the colourful coastal flower meadows by the coast. We returned to our campervan to make some lunch and ate our picnic sitting on this handsome stone bench that remembers Meg Newman, wondering about her life.
Back at home I found a lovingly written obituary to Meg Newman and learnt of her links with Orkney. Meg Newman was born in Orkney, moving away to study and eventually settling in the south of England, working as an assistant librarian at Portsmouth Polytechnic in the 1970s. Meg Newman returned to work at Fareham College as a librarian after having children. The touching obituary from her husband, Richard, tells us that Meg Newman lived an active life, working as a volunteer with the local police, supported local charities and was a member of local groups. In his words and those on the bench I could feel how much missed Meg Newman is by her family and friends. Meg Newman’s funeral was held in Fareham and a later family service was held at St Peters, Eastside on South Ronaldsay, near to Kirkhouse.
“Meg” MARGARET NEWMAN, Daughter of Mr and Mrs Norquay of Stews, Wife of Richard, Mum to Rachael and Ross, Granny to Rory and Preston, 5th Jan. 1950 to 14th Feb. 2014. Ae fond kiss, and then we sever! Ae fareweel, alas, forever! (Burns)
If the number of memorial benches is any criteria at all for how significant a place is, then Flamborough Head on the Yorkshire coast is one of the most special places in England. With a stretch of rugged white cliffs and thousands of birds, it isn’t difficult to see why it is a much loved place for so many people. The views over the cliffs are stunning, the birds are lively and the pebbly beaches are great for beachcombing. Flamborough Head is great for walking and is also perfect for sitting and enjoying the scenery. I always enjoy a visit to Flamborough Head, even on a wet or blustery day and welcomed a rest on the generously-sized bench remembering Clive John Long.
CLIVE JOHN LONG 1960 – 2004 HE LIVED FOR THOSE HE LOVED, AND THOSE HE LOVED REMEMBER.
Clive John Long died in his 40s and is still very much missed by his family who have set up an online Much Loved Remembrance Garden page to him; I found reading the thoughts on this page heartbreaking. I am pleased that I took the time to notice and read the moving and poignant epitaph on this memorial bench to Clive John Long.
It was a very wet day when we set off to walk around Dove Stone Reservoir on the edge of Saddleworth Moor in Oldham, Greater Manchester. We thought we would have the place to ourselves but the people of Greater Manchester are made of sterner stuff and plenty of them were out for a walk even in such inclement weather.
This bench with its lovely dedication, ‘After clouds sunshine’ caught my eye. This is a Latin proverb, post nubila phoebus that reminds us that after bad times come the good times. The phrase is also the motto of the University of Zulia, one of Venezuela’s most important university. Here the motto represents the re-opening of the university after 42 years of closure for political reasons.
- Memories of Betty Skye 1920 – 2011 Who Lived, Laughed & Loved Here. AFTER CLOUDS, SUNSHINE
I hope that I have found the correct obituary for the Bessie Skye this bench remembers. The Bessie Skye (and it is a beautiful and unusual name) I tracked down was 90-years old and died in Cardiff in south Wales, a long way from Dove Stone Reservoir in Greater Manchester. The obituary tells me that Bessie Skye was a much loved mother of seven children and was a great-grandmother. A Just Giving page reveals that £570 was raised for the Stroke Association in memory of Bessie Skye from the Cardiff half marathon in 2012. Why Bessie Skye ‘lived, laughed and loved’ at the beautiful Dove Stone Reservoir isn’t clear but someone out there will know more of her story.
In the pretty Welsh border village of Hawarden is The Gladstone Library, a unique and peaceful place that is Britain’s only Prime Ministerial library, founded by William Gladstone. As well as the library, the stately building has meeting spaces, accommodation and a cafe and runs courses and conferences.
We visited on a sunny day and before walking around the lovely countryside from Hawarden we stopped at the Gladstone Library for drinks. Beside the front door overlooking the lawns and the statue of William Gladstone is this bench remembering Joanna Goodchild.
Joanna Goodchild died locally on 17 February 2016. As well as being a long serving supporter of Gladstone’s Library, Joanna Goodchild worked as the secretary of The Queen’s School, an independent girl’s school in Chester, for many years, from 1947 until 1984. I uncovered some heart-warming stories about Joanna Goodchild’s time at The Queen’s School. Founded in 1878, this is the only school granted the privilege of being known as The Queen’s School, following a royal decree from Queen Victoria.
When Joanna Goodchild retired as secretary at The Queen’s School in 1984 she was given a glowing tribute in the school magazine. She was described as having an, ‘unparalleled’ ‘knowledge of the day-to-day working of the school’ and being ‘an integral part of school life for so long.’ She had an ability to ‘react to any situation with wisdom, humour and tact ‘ and was a valued member of staff who would be greatly missed.
In Loving Memory of JOANNA GOODCHILD A Long Serving Supporter And Friend Of Gladstone’s Library 1921 – 2016
Susan Elphick, who received an MBE for her charitable work at a local hospital, attended The Queen’s School in the 1950s. At the school’s annual Commemoration Service in 2015 she remembered Joanna Goodchild fondly and told the young people that she remained friends with her after leaving the school.
Cotherstone is an attractive village just a few miles from Barnard Castle. Named after Anglo-Saxon settlers the village is on a ford of the river Tees and in the 11th century a castle was built here of which only earthworks remain today. In 1868 the railway came, three local reservoirs were built and the village of Cotherstone grew. The railway served the local quarries and the disused route winds up the valley and the Teesdale Railway Path makes a great linear walk or cycle route between Barnard Castle and Middleton-in-Teesdale.
THIS SEAT IS PLACED HERE IN LOVING MEMORY OF BETTY HUTTON 6.7.29 – 11.1.06 please enjoy a rest here as you climb the hill as Betty often did
In this green and pleasant spot near to our campsite this lovely bench invites walkers to sit and rest in memory of Betty Hutton who lived until she was 76-years old. Her friends and / or relatives chose to remember Betty Hutton with a memorial bench, ensuring her connection with Cotherstone continues and is part of community life beyond the graveyard. A memorial bench is a great way to recognise a link someone had with a place and preserve that association, as well as to pay tribute to the person.
The bench on the hillside near Cotherstone
Streatley and Goring straddle opposite banks of the river Thames. The two villages are joined by a river and are lovely places to visit. Goring is in the Chilterns and Streatley is in the North Wessex Downs, both Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In early Anglo Saxon times the river Thames was the border between Mercia and Wessex, with Goring in Mercia and under the rule of King Offa and Streatley in Wessex and ruled by King Ine. We found this a perfect area for walking and followed ancient trails, including The Ridgeway
, and interesting sunken ways to the Holies, a lovely chalk woodland on the slopes above Streatley. It was a sunny winters day and lots of people were out enjoying the fine weather.
In the lovely woods above Streatley in Berkshire
I found this memorial plaque to Malc Grant while exploring among the trees. The plaque generously shares the bench with other memorials, making this glade a very special place for remembering loved ones for lots of different people.
Malc Grant 24.05.1948 – 04.10.2013 A True Friend – A Good Heart – A Great Voice