Astbury Mere Country Park: Dev Patel 1982 – 2014

Astbury Mere near Congleton is a great spot to call in for a walk.  Run by local volunteers, Astbury Mere has a visitor centre, a car park and a good short path of one mile around the mere.  There is really no excuse not to visit.  This is the site of a former sand quarry which stopped production in the 1980s.  When the quarrying stopped local people fought to have access to the land.  They now manage the country park and do a wonderful job of encouraging wildlife and visitors.

On our last visit in 2017 I found this memorial bench to Dev Patel which has a lovely view across the water.  I wanted to know more about Dev Patel’s story and why he died so young.

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Overlooking Astbury Mere

Dev (or Devish) Patel sadly died in 2014 after crashing while riding his motorbike.  His wife Becx describes him as an ‘… Amazing man with a kind soul.’  From my research it is clear that Dev Patel is very much loved and missed by his family and friends.  Dev Patel was a keen motorcyclist and loved his Honda Blade motorbike, hence the ‘Ride in Peace’ epitaph on the bench.  I was moved by the tributes to Dev Patel and also honoured to discover this memorial bench.

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Dev Patel 1982 – 2014 Ride in Peace You will always be remembered

 

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Buttermere Youth Hostel: Andy Follis 1958 – 2005

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Looking over Crummock Water from Rannerdale Knotts

Buttermere Youth Hostel is a special place for me as I worked a summer season there in the 1990s.  One of my favourite memories of those months is the short period between finishing serving breakfast and the two hours of cleaning duties once the hostel was empty.  We would often take this much needed short break on the benches lined up on the open porch at the front of the hostel.  Here, with a view of the surrounding fells, we would chat with the hostellers as they kitted up for a walk or packed their cars, while having a welcome mug of tea and a piece of homemade cake.

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In memory of Andy Follis 1958 – 2005

Returning to Buttermere for a stay this summer I was interested to find a memorial bench to Andy Follis on the porch.  Andy Follis was only 46 years old when he died suddenly from epilepsy in April 2005 leaving a wife and two daughters.

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The bench under the porch at Buttermere Youth Hostel

Andy Follis must have also had a connection with Buttermere Youth Hostel and certainly the bench that remembers him is welcomed by hostellers and members of staff.

Haworth: Derek Ernest Foster 5th June 1931 – 3rd August 2012

If you walk away from the central bustle of the lovely West Yorkshire village of Haworth and follow the road out of the village that heads off up to the moors, turn left off the main road and you find yourself on Cemetery Road.  Walking along this road you get a fantastic view over the Worth Valley.  Walk beyond the Cemetery [after exploring] and you are looking over Lower Laithe Reservoir to the village of Stanbury on its ridge.  Here in this lovely spot I found the memorial bench to Derek Ernest Foster.

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Derek Ernest Foster died peacefully at home at the age of 81-years, leaving his wife Mary and father of five children.  The memorial bench to remember Derek Ernest Foster suggests a family man who was very much loved and had a good sense of humour and also enjoyed the beauty of the landscape around Haworth.  This bench, dedicated in loving memory by his family, gives passers by a glimpse of the sort of man Derek Ernest Foster was and I appreciate the family’s generosity in sharing their memories.

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In Loving Memory of Derek Ernest Foster. A sincere and dear Husband, Father & Grandfather who regularly appreciated the surrounding natural beauty from this location, flippantly quoting “which Architect designed all this”. Infinitely loved and Eternally missed. 5th June 1931 – 3rd August 2012

Cemitério dos Ingleses, Elvas, Portugal: Victor Hunter Reynolds 1901 – 1985

I was enchanted by the walled town of Elvas in Portugal.  Near the Spanish border this is a lovely town with complex walls, a castle, a handsome square and the beautiful Chapel of Igreja das Domínicas.   Exploring the narrow streets we came across the British Cemetery on the edge of the city occupying one of the seven bastions in the fortifications.  This is one of the oldest British military cemeteries and has five known graves, two died at the Battle of Albuera (1811) and one at a siege of nearby Badajoz; thousands of British soldiers died in both these battles.

Elvas held a key position in the Peninsular War (1808 – 1814)  facing Badajoz in Spain and the cemetery was opened in 1811 for the body of Major General Daniel Hoghton, who died at Battle of Albuera.  Today Elvas is a fascinating city that is deservedly a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its extensive fortifications.

The British Cemetery (the Portuguese call it the Cemitério dos Ingleses) fell in to disrepair until 1997 when the small British expat community, with help from the Portuguese army, renovated the neglected cemetery and took over responsibility for its ongoing maintenance.  Today it is a peaceful and attractive spot with views over the plain towards Badajoz.

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In memory of Victor Hunter Reynolds 1901 – 1985 and to recognise his services to the Allied cause in World War II, assisting the escape of Allied servicemen and refugees from occupied Europe through Spain and Portugal.  His lifelong interest in this place was a reflection of his admiration for the 1st Duke of Wellington.

I don’t often include memorial benches from other countries for the simple reason I rarely find them in other European countries.  In this British Cemetery the custom of memorial benches has been exported and I discovered this moving tribute to Victor Hunter Reynolds.

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The British Cemetery in Elvas, Portugal

I was lucky to come across this full and interesting account of Victor Hunter Reynold’s life translated from an article written by Alberto Franco in 2004.  Victor Hunter Reynolds was born in Lisbon in 1901, his father from Anglo-Portuguese wine and cork merchants and his mother from a Portuguese banking family.  The family moved back to England for a short time, returning to Portugal in 1917.  Victor went to work for an uncle on his estates and learnt to speak Portuguese and when his uncle died he took over the management of the Quinta do Carmo near Estremoz (still a wine producing quinta).

In 1936 Victor Hunter Reynolds was very much affected by the bombing of nearby Badajoz and as, ‘the frontier was only a short distance from his estates, and as an Anglo-Portuguese, Victor could not ignore the thousands of Spanish refugees who crossed the frontier in search of safety. In common with many Portuguese, Reynolds lent a hand to the Republican refugees escaping Franco’s troops, hiding them temporarily on his estates.’  When the Second World War began Victor Hunter Reynolds volunteered to fight in the British army but instead was asked to stay in Portugal as a useful secret agent.  Many refugees from different countries, fleeing prisoners of war, RAF pilots who had been shot down and other agents passed through the Quinta do Carmo on their way to Lisbon and Britain.

Alberto Franco goes on to describe a caring and generous landowner who understood the hard conditions his workers endured and goes on to say, ‘his reputation as a good man and a just employer turned to his advantage during the Agrarian Reform. His properties were not occupied, although he had certain difficulties, as might be expected.’  I felt privileged to have been able to learn a little more about the people of this lovely part of Portugal thanks to this memorial bench.

 

 

 

Mow Cop: Harry Brookes 1935 – 2010

Mow Cop is a hilltop village on the Staffordshire and Cheshire border and is a great viewpoint.  This bench sits on the slopes down to the Cheshire plain and is below Mow Cop’s landmark folly that was built to look like a ruined castle and enhance the view around 250-years ago.  The Mow Cop website gives a full and interesting history of the ‘castle’ and of the village and I recommend you take a look before visiting.

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Sunshine passes, shadows fall, love’s remembrance outlast all, Harry Brookes 1935 – 2010

I haven’t been able to find out what Harry Brookes’ link with Mow Cop was and why his relatives or friends chose this splendid position for a memorial bench to him after his death.  Maybe someone out there remembers him.  And yet, while his bench remains he isn’t forgotten and I sat taking in the view and thought about the moving quote on this memorial bench to Harry Brookes.  The heartfelt sentiment on the bench certainly tells me that he was a man who was very much loved and not forgotten.

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The view from the the bench below Mow Cop over Cheshire

Upton upon Severn: Richard Tippin 1/08/1952 to 27/9/2008

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.

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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.

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Pause a moment and raise your glass, With all Blues fans present and past, While of the old JD you take a sip, Remember Richard Tippin or to some Dick, Who thought a Blues Festival would be fun, So with £10 each friend it was begun, And Upton Blues Festival was started.  So spare a thought for our dear departed.  RICHARD TIPPIN 1/08/1952 to 27/9/2008

 

Kirkhouse, South Ronaldsay, Orkney: ‘Meg’ Margaret Newman 5th Jan 1950 to 14th Feb 2014

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.

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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.

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“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)