In the Moment ‘on the Lake’

In the Moment summer projects get better and better! This year, an August day out on Windermere, inspired by the lovely old boat ‘Branksome’ being restored ahead of the new Windermere Jetty opening in 2017.

‘In the Moment’ is part of Lakeland Arts’ Enriched by Moments programme of creative activity for people living with dementia and their carers. The group meets weekly in Kendal, drawing inspiration from Lakeland Arts sites, collections, exhibitions and displays, as well as local festivals and events. The sessions are a joyful blend of art and poetry, and have been described as ‘respite without separation’ – pleasurable and stimulating for everyone involved, and proven to support people to live well with dementia. Somehow, the process of immersion in experiences, the flow that happens during creative engagement has a transformative and beneficial effect that seems to extend beyond the sessions, for everyone involved.

In the lead up to the summer project, costumes from the Handling Collection and a photograph of Edna Haworth who lived at Langdale Chase and commissioned the building of ‘Branksome’ in 1896 were our starting points. Together, they provided ideas for us to create a really special day out and bring ‘Branksome’ to life in a completely new way. We shaped the day to include a visit to the Jetty conservation shed, experience an hour on the lake, disembark at Langdale Chase where we would see the boathouse built specially for ‘Branksome’ and then have afternoon tea close to the terrace overlooking the lake where Edna is standing for her photograph.

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It has been wonderful subject matter to be immersed in, enabling a relaxed and playful connection with the late Victorian era. The group created their own accessories, including appliqued capes, cuffs, choker necklaces, boater hats and false moustaches!

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Everyone enjoyed role playing their way into their costumes!

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The group also spent time thinking about the boat, making drawings and maps and two members of the group partipated in stitching the outline of Branksome onto white fabric.

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The visit to look at Branksome being restored was illuminating. Stephen, the Senior Boat Conservator, explained the process of finding just the right shaped piece of oak, known as grown crook of oak, to replace the original stem. This way of growing oak gives the wood the curvature in the grain which will follow the line of the stem. A brand new figurehead, inspired by some of the intricate carvings at Langdale Chase, illustrated how the boat is being restored to its former glory. Stephen also told us that an oak tree felled to make room for the development of the new museum is being used to create the steam bent timbers lining the interior of the boat.

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We left the Jetty Conservation Shed, amazed by the craftmanship and care that the conservation team are employing, and made our way to Waterhead for our picnic as we waited for our boat to arrive. We made a happy gathering, wearing our hats which were very welcome in the bright sunshine.

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We boarded The Princess of the Lake, our very own wooden launch for an hour! It was glorious to be on the lake, everyone so thrilled, the beautiful weather, landscape, sense of friendship and shared experience.

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As the boat pulled into the Langdale Chase jetty, we got our first view of the boathouse which was the original home of ‘Branksome’ and Bernice and John waiting to welcome us.

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Safely off the boat, we unfolded the stitched drawing of the boat and floated it into the water by the boathouse – a symbolic returning of ‘Branksome’ to it’s original home.

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Up on Edna’s terrace at what is now the Langdale Chase Hotel, we held up ‘Branksome’ to dry, creating another connection between the boat, the lake, its original owner and original home.

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The afternoon ended with afternoon tea and poetry readings. We’ve had two more ‘In the Moments’ since our wonderful day out and each time we’ve projected images of the day directly onto the studio wall which has had the effect of bringing that moment on the lake directly into the room again. Members of the group have created personal dioramas that create a visual sense of their moments on the lake, as well as prints and a large inked landscape of the lake.

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Get involved: our next big project with ‘In the Moment’ is the Creative Age Challenge in late October during the weekend of the Kendal Wool Gathering when knitters and crafters are Yarn Bombing the museum. We are working in schools and with community groups in Kendal to create a Hand Made Herd – a flock of small scale sheep that will fill the oval in the front of Abbot Hall Art Gallery. During the weekend of the gathering, sheep will be on display and then auctioned at 3pm on Sunday 30 October to raise funds to support the Enriched by Moments programme. Invite us to run a sheep making workshop in your workplace, school, community centre. Come to MOLLI’s Woolly Workshops during half term. Volunteer!

For more information about the Enriched by Moments programme check out the website at http://www.lakelandarts.org.uk/learning

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Summer of Rag Rugging

***UPDATE: The rugging will continue this October 22 & 24-27. Come to the museum during half term to take part in finishing this great textile project. Full details here.*** 

We’re creating giant rag rugs inspired by the rugged Cumbrian landscape! Sally Fallows is running drop-in workshops across Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House all summer long. The finished rag rugs and wall hanging will animate the learning centre at Windermere Jetty, Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories when it opens in 2017. Over 250 people have contributed so far – and there’s plenty left to do! So drop in and try your hand at traditional textile techniques with a contemporary twist.

 

Morning workshops at Abbot Hall Art Gallery
Monday to Friday until 2 September / 10:30 – 12:30 

Included with admission – children FREE 

Create an aerial view of Windermere in wool using a mix of hooking, prodding, crochet and pom-poms! Inspired by Winifred Nicholson’s views of Cumbria, on display at Abbot Hall Art Gallery until 15 October 2016. Nicholson designed over 180 rag rugs and commissioned local artists to make them. We also drew inspiration from Alexandra Kehayoglou‘s spectacular wool rug artworks.

 

Afternoon workshops at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House
Monday to Friday until 2 September / 2:00 – 4:00
Included with admission – children FREE 

Help make a gigantic wall hanging inspired by the view from Blackwell – complete with fleecy sheep and boats sailing on Windermere. Enjoy an afternoon of crafting in an idyllic setting. Materials are locally sourced from William’s Wools and Faye’s Sewing Box – including local alpaca yarn from Town End Yarns.

 

Lakeland Arts 2016 and beyond…

Busy times are ahead for Lakeland Arts in Cumbria, one of the leading Arts and Heritage Organisations in the North West. Originally Founded in 1957, it has since developed a hugely successful artistic programme, which repeatedly brings the best contemporary and historical artists to the area. On an annual basis, thousands of visitors come to indulge themselves in visual feasts of consistently high quality exhibitions, held at inspiring settings throughout the Lake District and just outside. Yet this is only part of the story. For over the next few years, there are plans to raise the stakes even higher, with an ambitious strategy to significantly grow a diverse selection of attractions. Notwithstanding the realisation of an ambitious new Windermere Jetty project or the completion of new period rooms at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House in Bowness.

Since opening Abbot Hall Art Gallery in 1962, the former Georgian town house has gained a national and international reputation for the excellence of its collections and programming. A wide-ranging collection boasts something for everyone, from iconic works such as the huge 16th Century triptych portrait of Lady Anne Clifford, to Cumbrian born George Romney’s finest society portraits from the 18th Century. Hung in elegant period rooms these magnificent works rub shoulders with a fine set of 18th & 19th Century watercolours from the likes of J.M.W. Turner, John Constable and Edward Lear. Highlights of a strong modern and contemporary collection include paintings by the St. Ives School, Graham Sutherland, L. S. Lowry and Ivon Hitchens, with three-dimensional pieces by Barbara Hepworth and Jean Arp. You can also find an important selection of works by German refugee Kurt Schwitters, who spent the last few years of his life in the Lake District, after fleeing to England in 1940. From its early days, Abbot Hall has regularly brought some of the most celebrated names in the art world to Cumbria, from: Bridget Riley, Lucien Freud and Patrick Caulfield to name only a few. The current highly acclaimed exhibition ‘Canaletto: Celebrating Britain’ is on the last leg of a hugely successful tour, which has already taken in the Compton Verney Art Gallery in Warwickshire and Holburne Museum in Bath. It offers a Northwest audience the unique chance to see a large grouping of drawings and paintings by the illustrious 18th century Italian artist. The works have been brought together from major collections including: the Royal Collection, British Museum and Dulwich Picture Gallery, along with a number of private lenders.

Lakeland Arts have also developed an extensive learning and activities programme of events, lectures, workshops, films and concerts across all of their sites. Giving invaluable access to their collections for families, schools, colleges and community groups. All galleries are free for children up to the age of sixteen, and young people receive further support with a variety of cross-curricula opportunities, predominantly in Art and Design and History. Engaging the local community is also another top priority. A series of projects aimed at meeting the needs and interests of individual groups include a programme entitled, Enriched by Moments, which delivers activities and events designed to engage people living with dementia along with their carers. These informal sessions often stimulate lively discussion, generating creative ideas and enhancing feelings of well-being. They have also established partnerships with organisations such as: Young Cumbria, the Leonard Cheshire Disability Trust, Riverview Day Centre in Kendal and residents and staff at the Leonard Cheshire Home at Holehird, Windermere.

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From March this year, Abbot Hall will become one of only three host venues selected to display a Masterpiece from the National Gallery Collection. Rembrandt’s Self Portrait at the Age of 63 will arrive during a UK tour from January to July 2016. This late contemplative self-portrait by one of the world’s most revered artists represents another major coup for the gallery. Helen Watson, Director of Exhibitions and Collections is obviously thrilled, “We are excited about bringing one of the greatest works of art in the UK to Kendal. Visitors will have a unique opportunity to spend time with this magnificent painting, study it in detail and learn about Rembrandt and his self-portraits.” Keeping a close eye on the Dutch master will be Lady Anne Clifford’s barn door-sized triptych from the same period, which is to be shown in an adjacent gallery. Looking forward to the pair meeting one another, Anne-Marie Quinn, Learning and Engagement Officer at Abbot Hall reveals, “We have designed a programme of talks and activities to encourage all our visitors to spend time with Rembrandt and Lady Anne. They are remarkable characters in their own right and both have used portraiture in very different ways to describe moments throughout their lives. Lady Anne’s portraits create a narrative about her status and power, while Rembrandt’s self-portrait is the intense almost spiritual scrutiny of an older man, reflecting on his image, and perhaps his whole life.

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Housed nearby in the old coach house and stable block at Abbot Hall, The Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry displays a significant and widespread collection relating to the social and industrial history of the Lake District and Kendal. This year visitors will be treated to a new layout with more interactive displays. Exhibits not to miss include the original sketches, drawings, photographs, mementoes and a pair of slippers once belonging to Arthur Ransome, author of the enduring children’s classic, Swallows and Amazons. Whilst there are further opportunities to step back in time with the Victorian photographs of the Lake District by Joseph Hardman, or by tracing the local development of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

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When architect MH Baillie Scott completed Blackwell in 1901, he built a beautiful holiday home overlooking Windermere for his client, Sir Edward Holt, a wealthy industrialist. Exactly one hundred years later, Lakeland Arts opened the house to the public in 2001, after stepping in to save it from an uncertain future. Initially securing a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a restoration project, this masterpiece of twentieth-century design now continues to present a rare opportunity for visitors to experience a breath-taking example of the Arts & Crafts Movement today. At the moment, plans to bring the Blackwell Project: An Arts and Crafts Story are close to fruition. This two-year project will eventually introduce new Arts and Crafts furnishings, objects and textiles to further enhance the period rooms, whilst telling the stories of some of the people who lived and worked at Blackwell.

Unquestionably, one of the most exciting future additions for the Lakeland Arts portfolio is the realisation of the new Windermere Jetty, Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories. Which replaces the former Windermere Steamboat Museum that opened in 1977. Thanks again to significant support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, an eighteen month build and fit-out programme started in a special Ground-breaking ceremony on November 20th 2015. Once opened, the new Museum will add a further dimension to Cumbria’s rich heritage and cultural offer. Windermere’s lakeshore history will come alive as it is combined with displays of steam launches, motorboats, yachts and other vessels. A new learning centre is a key feature of the design, whilst a new café will provide stunning views over the length of Windermere. Martin Ainscough, Chairman of Lakeland Arts is clearly delighted; “This is a major step towards opening the Museum to the public so that everyone can enjoy seeing the historic boats on display in the exhibition galleries and on the lake”. Local MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale (and leader of the Liberal Democrats) Tim Farron, also welcomes the latest addition to the shoreline, stating; “I cannot wait for the new building to open so I can have a look at Lakeland Arts’ fantastic collection of historic boats. I am grateful for the support the Heritage Lottery Fund continues to give to Cumbria”.

With the completion of the Windermere Jetty project expected in 2017, Lakeland Arts will grow significantly and boast one of the most far-reaching and diverse set of attractions. Incorporating a wide variety of collections with the potential to rival anywhere else in the UK. For nearly sixty years, they have cultivated an enviable reputation for exhibiting art of the highest quality. This has been achieved alongside the creation of inspiring spaces for the understanding and enjoyment of artists, the collections and buildings. Whilst the exhibition programme continues to celebrate artistic endeavour and imagination, it also engages and challenges audiences to fully experience all forms of art.

David Banning
Visitor Experience Coordinator, Lakeland Arts

New Expressions: Kendal Skies

We’ve had a bonus week of sky exploring, making cloudy labels, finding accidental clouds and drawing golden eagles in flight. Geoff drew his eagle in great confidence with oil pastel and then layered it over his painted cliffside. Kenneth used chalk pastels to create an atmposheric sky.

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During preparations for the workshop, a little bunch of pristine white labels had been dropped into a tray of ink! A happy accident! This was the inspiration for utilisng the paper that we had used to protect the floor from paint when we were painting the parasol. This was covered in drips and puddles of lovely paint and created a feeling of clouds! And so the group cut out ‘accidental’ clouds, printed weather inspired words on inky labels and continued to use paint to capture the swirling feeling of cloudy skies.

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Pat created the word ‘smog’ remembering her early life in London and Joyce selected areas of dripped paint to create an accidental cloud. Annette scumbled and blended sky and cloud with paint. John drew an image of the sky with language written into the swirling shapes.

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John loves the cloud book, and this led us outside to look at the skies. And back inside, the words to Somewhere Over the Rainbow filled the rooms and Annette and Pat painted rainbows.

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New Expressions Week 3 in Kendal

Unsettled outside today, but inside Unit 31, such a buzz of creative activity!

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Pat was very taken with the parasol sky and although she finds it very difficult to hold paintbrushes at the moment, she thoroughly enjoyed getting as close as possible and reaching out to feel the fabric. We covered her in plastic sheeting as the sky painters were very expressive with their paintwork today!

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Meanwhile, the printing, collaging and stitching into cloud sections continued. Mary had found some songs inspired by the weather, so the afternoon was punctuated by joyful bursts of Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head, I’m Singin’ in the Rain, and Oh What a Beautiful Morning!

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Harriet and Ruth were folding lengths of dyed fabric to be used to carry lines of poetry into the canopy. A new word – cloud-folding! And a lovely connection with the first poem to be created by the group this summer – it’s title – ‘Unfolding a Sky Map.

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They spent time looking again at the map….

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…..before the weather itself drew us outside. What a sky! Enormous. Tumultous. Glorious!

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And the sky, never before so beautiful, seeps into our hearts to hold them like dreams….

New Expressions: Developing Sky

Harriet kicked off today with a beautiful poem inspired by John’s reading last week from Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal, describing a memorable journey in the rain. We also sang Happy Birthday to Martin, welcomed Peter and Rosa, ate flapjack and explored the map! Geoff and Joan particularly enjoyed looking closely at moments within the map from recent weeks.

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Geoff found a moment from last week at Grasmere, his first glimpse of Uta’s blue sky in the rain.

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Harriet read an extract from AE Houseman’s A Shropshire Lad – ‘From far, from eve and morning / And yon twelve-winded sky, the stuff of life to knit me / Blew hither: here am I’. And this led into working on the inner panels for the parasol……

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The studio was full of beautiful shades of blue, and we very quickly got busy mixing colour inspired by the range of cloudscapes collages. Painted and printed pieces will be layered together and stitched into the inside of the parasol.

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And throughout the afternoon, the parasol itself began to be transformed into the sky….

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We ended the afternoon with a display of cloud paintings and prints and a discussion about the day. John had worked expressively in paint and with words – ‘in clouds of joy’. Mandy described feeling like a real artist, forgetting herself and just working really intuitively. Jack had struggled through a question about how to do it and resolved it! Geoff had brought photographs of him climbing in the French Alps and painted a mountain side reaching into the clouds. We talked about high walks and low walks and being out ‘whatever the weather’. Martin said he has always loving walking and described in detail a walk to Keswick many years ago. Annette communicated immense pleasure, and not just the pleasure of the moment of creative activity, but throughout the rest of the week she finds herself noticing more – looking up at the sky, looking at colours in nature. Pat was happy to be there, enjoying the buzz of conversation and activity. Nita worked on the parasol with great energy, at one point holding a paintbrush between her teeth as she used another to work paint into the cloth, maintaining a commentary throughout! Pat watched her with evident enjoyment.

At the end of the afternoon, Harriet crawled under the parasol and opened it up and we could see more of the sky that was growing – and have a look at the inside….lovely to see stains of painting flowing through. The parasol will find its way to Penrith on Tuesday for further transformation!

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Harriet listened as we talked and created a poem from fragments of the conversation. Lovely to have creative activity and engagement reflected back to the group so beautifully. A wonderful afternoon.

Mary Burkett, 1924 – 2014

Mary BurkettGoodness we’ll all miss Mary. She never really needed a surname in Cumbria, we all knew which Mary we were talking about, she influenced and touched so many of our lives at different times and in different ways. It is both an honour and a daunting task to try and capture her life in a few minutes, she achieved so much, she had so many interests and so many friends.  There was no middle way with Mary, you were either a good thing or you weren’t, things were either terrific or terrible. And old age was terrible, ‘not for wimps’ she said, and we must all be thankful that she died while she was still living life to the full, and that she’d seen so many of her friends from all over the world who had come to join her 90th birthday celebrations last month.

Mary was proud to be descended from a saint. Her forebear, Saint William of the Desert, was a favourite and protector of Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor. Fast forward to Mary’s mother who came from an old and musical Irish family and her father who was a soldier in the Royal Engineers. They met at the outbreak of the Ist World War and married soon after it ended. Mary was born in Newcastle in 1924, grew up in the North East and went on to Durham University before becoming a teacher, first in Portsmouth, then Warwickshire and in 1955 coming to Charlotte Mason College in Ambleside which was then both a teacher training college and a PNEU school. With a shock of red hair and enormous energy, enthusiasm and a great sense of fun, she was an inspirational teacher both to the children and to those training, and as throughout her life, she went the extra mile. She taught Art but when one girl who longed to be a doctor couldn’t pass an essential Maths exam and everyone had given up on her, Mary took her on and got her through it. She spent summers working in refugee camps in Austria and then helped to raise money and start an Ockenden Venture house for refugee children in Ambleside.

In 1962, inspired by the writings of Freya Stark and with great spirit of adventure, Mary left Charlotte Mason and set off in an old landrover for Persia with Genette Malet de Carteret. They discovered a ruined Assassin’s castle, worked on a dig for several weeks, and travelled widely and at times dangerously. This trip gave her a lifelong love of the Middle East and Afghanistan and their ancient civilizations. She’d always been very interested in Archaeology (as well as Geology and Ornithology and wildlife), and subsequently she directed a small excavation in Roman Ambleside and played a very important part in setting up the Senhouse Museum in Maryport. While she was in Persia Mary also came across felt making for the first time. She researched its history, wrote about it, championed it as an art, founded a worldwide network of felt artists and was proud to be known as the Mother of Felt.

After 9 months of travelling Mary returned to take up a post at Abbot Hall, then a newly formed museum, and in 1966 became the director. During her 20 year rule the museum enlarged enormously, she cajoled locals into give furniture and paintings, created the adjoining Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry largely through donations, and made a number of very important acquisitions as well as encouraging young artists and craftsmen. My first real memory of Mary is in the mid 70s when I had just left the Royal College and she came to look at my photographs to see whether she thought them worthy of an exhibition. She put my folio on the floor. “I always told my pupils to look at things upside down” she said, swinging her head down between her legs. She really was a great Patron of the Arts, she encouraged those who were creative to create, and those with money to buy. In 1973 Abbot Hall won the first Museum of the Year award.

Mary fitted more into a day than most people would contemplate. The day of our wedding in 1986 was also the day of Margaret Austen-Leigh’s funeral and Mary went to both. Margaret was an old friend and distant cousin of hers and Mary was her heir. She had just retired as director of Abbot Hall, so while others might have thought of downsizing Mary moved from the log cabin she had built at Bowness to the great and ancient Isel Hall and so began another chapter of her life. With help from English Heritage she undertook a long restoration programme to the building, making it water and weather tight, she filled it with an eclectic collection of modern art and supported and encouraged painters, potters, poets, writers, dancers, musicians and sculptors. She continued to research and write on Cumbrian Artists, played the organ in this beautiful church, sped round the county going to meetings, lectures, concerts and parties and visiting friends. Mary had a great gift for friendship, she made friends everywhere, in trains, in shops, on the beach, it didn’t matter.

She was a member, trustee, chairman, patron and president of more organizations and charities than one can count. She raised money, filled lecture halls, organized exhibitions, she was unstoppable. She was always good company and the most generous of friends as well as being quite demanding. I don’t think she really liked being alone and latterly she was often looking for a companion, a driver or somewhere to stay the night as she hated to miss anything, even when her energy was failing. Other than her Christmas party it was best to visit Isel in summer. To conserve heat the curtains were rarely drawn back in winter, she hated cooking, her kitchen was prehistoric, and it was a good idea to arrive with a picnic. There were notices telling one not to waste water, and her wonderful letters were always in used envelopes with gummed labels. She didn’t spend money on herself, she quietly helped friends and causes she thought important. When we visited Nino, a friend of hers in Georgia, Russia, Mary gave us a small packet of money to pass on to her.

It’s hard to imagine life without Mary, her death leaves a great sad hole, but I think her legacy will live on in so many ways and through so many people that her spirit will be around for a long time to come.

A tribute by Cressida Inglewood of Hutton-in-the-Forest