Tony BryantOne of the founders of Marlborough Gardening Association and a stalwart of the town’s Bowls Club, Tony Bryant, has died at the age of 82 following a long illness.
Mr Bryant, whose home was in St John’s Close in Marlborough, spent the last six years of his life in Merlin Court nursing home where he died on Tuesday last week.
The funeral takes place at St Mary’s Church, 12noon next Tuesday (August 4), and will be followed by cremation at the West Wiltshire Crematorium.
Mr Bryant was born in the village of Vellow near Stogumber in West Somerset and was the first child from that school, and from his family, to win a place at Minehead Grammar School. He worked for solicitors in Minehead before he did his National Service in the RAF and served in Egypt at the time of the Suez crisis.
He finished his National Service at Yatesbury camp and decided to make his home in Wiltshire, joining the magistrates courts office in Swindon as a clerk.
One of the highlights of his military service was being on parade for the funeral of King George VI.
Mr Bryant served as a court clerk for 38 years until his retirement. He and his wife Sheila were together for 48 years and he doted on their daughter Tracey and his three step children, Robin, Christopher and the late Denise.
Mr Bryant, who had a garden at his home and an allotment, was one of founders the Marlborough Gardening Association in the early 1970’s and served as its treasurer for 30 years and also as its president.
Mr Bryant was a keen bowler, a member of the Marlborough Bowls Club and as its president he steered the club through the development of its new clubhouse.
He was also a leading member of the Wiltshire Bowling Association, playing on numerous tours and he served as its president. Mr Bryant was made an honorary life member of the Marlborough club in 1995 and of the county association in 2001.
As a boy he was a Scout and became a lifelong stamp collector.
In 1982 he received a commendation from Wiltshire Police after disregarding his own safety to help rescue a neighbouring pensioner who was injured in a gas explosion at her home - she later died.
Daughter Tracey Barnett said: “Dad loved his family and his home and his dogs throughout the years.”
Mrs Bryant said: “He loved his scouting and was very much into it as a boy.”
At Minehead Grammar the school hymn was Praise My Soul the King of Heaven which will be sang at Tuesday’s funeral. During his RAF service in Egypt he helped run the camp cinema and his favourite film was the Glen Miller Story so the music when the funeral ends will be Moonlight Serenade.
His family has asked for donations for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and for cancer research, care of Thomas Free and Sons funeral directors, The Parade, Marlborough SN8 1NE.
Sarah JacksonSarah Jackson was a well-known and much loved personality in Marlborough, having lived for almost twenty years in or near Marlborough.
She died on January 19th 2015 in Tasmania, Australia.
She was wife to Patrick (deceased), mother and mother in law to Olivia and Tom, Victoria and Guy, sister to Roger (deceased), Paul and Maria and grandmother to Islay, Charlie and Rosie.
Victoria and Guy are expecting twins very soon and Sarah knew of this happy expectation before she passed away.
Sarah set up the beautiful flower shop, called Primrose Lane, on the High Street soon after her arrival in 1995 and took over The Sun Inn for the last couple of years she lived here, with her husband Patrick.
She did much else in between, including a great deal of voluntary work, often to be found in the kitchen of the Jubilee Centre.
Sarah had an extraordinary international lifestyle, strength of character and totally engaging and gregarious personality.
She was born in Redhill Hospital, Middlesex England in 1947 and as a small infant she travelled by plane with her English mother Elsa to New York where her Norwegian father Eric Lind was to meet her for the first time.
The family then travelled to Central America to live on a remote coffee plantation in Guatemala where she and her sister had the freedom to run and play with local Guatemalans and speak naturally in Spanish as their first language.
When she was nine years old, Sarah found herself on a KLM Lockheed Constellation for a two-day flight via the Arctic Circle to an English boarding school at Godstowe, in High Wickham.
On her arrival she knew no one and had to quickly learn the skills she needed to survive and make friends in what was then, a foreign country to her.
This boarding school experience must have helped her in later life to generate her amazing networks of loyal friends in the UK, Sydney, the southern highlands and in Tasmania.
Sarah’s school holidays were mainly spent with relatives in Henley on Thames or Bergen in Norway with a once a year trip home to Guatemala.
With her English senior studies completed Sarah attended a finishing school in Marlow, acquiring all those aspects of social poise that would become her hallmark down the years.
During this time that she developed her strong affinity for England, its traditional lifestyle, its pubs, its high fashion and its Beatles inspired pop culture.
She was also able to share a trend setting London social life with her twin step-brothers Paul and Roger, both artists who regularly mixed with the “in-crowd”.
Sarah moved to Australia twice. The first time she came with her mother and her new English stepfather “Doc” Rylance, first class on the Achilli Laro and the second time, two years later in 1970, with her English husband to be Patrick, where they soon married and began their own family life.
It was after their daughters completed their schooling that Sarah felt the pull of England again, returning in 1995 with Victoria, whilst older sister Olivia embarked on her own travels.
Sarah and Patrick’s last assignment together of running a busy market town pub was the most testing of all for her. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, had had surgery and chemotherapy and then within five years took on the exhausting and relentless task of managing the hotel side, whilst Patrick, now unwell himself, ran the dining room.
In December 2012 Patrick lost his battle with cancer and in early 2013 Sarah sold the pub and visited Olivia and Tom, her grandchildren and Hobart friends for some well-earned down-time.
By the time she had arrived she was unwell and shortly afterwards underwent surgery for a brain tumour. Within a month there was a second surgery and again Sarah pulled through with an amazing display of courage and determination.
Recovering sufficiently to travel, she returned to England in October 2013 and settled in a cottage in a seaside suburb of Deal. The following year of convalescence further underlined the importance of family in Sarah’s life.
It was only possible with the continuing support of Victoria, her husband Guy, his parents who were close neighbours and her English cousin Jane.
The middle of 2014 saw indications of a return of the tumour and Sarah although unwell, elected to return to Hobart for treatment bravely undergoing a third round of surgery plus radiotherapy.
Sarah died peacefully and will be greatly missed, but also greatly celebrated by all her family both here and overseas and her many, many friends.
In Marlborough, we will not only remember Sarah for running successful businesses, but also for her capacity for volunteering and treating all with great kindness. The Jubilee Centre was one of her favourite places to use her skills, brightening up the day for staff and clients alike.
Sarah was unable to walk down Marlborough High Street without bumping into at least half a dozen people who knew her. Always smiling and always effervescent – Sarah simply brought sunshine into everyone’s lives.
- Friends and neighbours of Sarah would like to remember her in Marlborough – perhaps by planting a flowering tree with a small plaque, in Priory Gardens, if permission were to be given.
If you would like to contribute to such a living memorial, donations can be left at either David Dudley (Jewellers) or the Jubilee Centre.
Please put your donation in an envelope marked “In memory of Sarah Jackson”. Please make sure you put your name on the envelope so we can give the family a list of her many friends.
Should there be any excess funds we will split the donation between the Jubilee Centre and Prospect Hospice at Savernake, the hospice who gave such good care to Patrick in his final days and provided support for the family.
Harry Beckhough at the 2013 Town Hall Christmas lunchIn my career as a journalist covering five decades I was privileged to meet many remarkable men and women from all realms of life, but one character stands out as the man who did most in his life, Harry Beckhough who has died at the age of 101.
Dr Beckhough – he had a PhD in languages although he rarely used his title – kept working for 30 years beyond his allotted three score years and ten. In other words this diminutive man, who was a giant in so many ways, never retired.
While most pensioners occupied themselves with R&R (rest and recreation), Harry kept busy with W&W (work and more work).
When he was not working in the High Street offices of his beloved Devizes Constituency Conservative Association, he was researching for the books he wrote on a number of subjects ranging from the Old Testament to what he called the Fourth Reich, German’s domination of the Western world economically after its attempts to use brute force led to two world wars.
This cheery centenarian could well have written his own epitaph in the title of his autobiography Thinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - a play on the words of the children’s pudding game with cherry or prune stones!
He was a thinker, a lifelong philosopher; a tailor who started his own clothing companies including the famous Double 2 shirt brand; a soldier who fought through World War Two with the Eighth Army achieving the rank of colonel; and a spy because he was invited to join Britain’s code-cracking team at Bletchley Park whose work in breaking enemy codes was credited with ending the 1939-45 war years earlier than it might have dragged on.
Harry was fascinated with the German psyche and that nation’s unrequited bid for domination of Europe, and probably the rest of the world, initially by military might but since peace broke out in 1945 through its economic supremacy.
In some notes I have written by Harry before giving a public talk, his dislike of the European Union is obvious and he refers to “the treachery of our Leaders selling Britain to unelected ill-intentioned strangers”, “the European Union under Germany’s running lies” and “Has England a future free from EU dictatorship”.
Born in Bristol where he attended the same grammar school as actor Cary Grant, he had a natural aptitude for languages and his studies at the University of Bristol involved stays in France and Germany developing his understanding of not only the German language, but also the Teutonic desire for domination.
His wartime service as a soldier and code breaker – which also involved helping develop the world’s first computers – was the sort of thing that should inspire authors and film-makers, let alone the myriad other things he crammed into his 101 years.
He was possibly the oldest and longest-serving member of the Conservative Party and became a friend and confidante to top Tories over the past 30 years.
While living in Yorkshire developing his clothing industries Harry was not enamoured with the preparatory schools available to his son Nigel and daughter Jennifer, so in true Beckhough style he started his own, Cundall Manor, which still flourishes 55 years on.
Following the death of his wife Joan in 1996 Harry decided to return from Yorkshire where he had lived for much of his adult life to his beloved West Country to be near his barrister daughter – who is the wife of the President of the Family Division of the High Court – who lives near the Manningfords.
He moved into the Castle Court retirement complex in 1997 where he stayed the rest of his days, handily close to the Conservative office where he could be found working most mornings.
Tirelessly he used his business acumen and life’s experiences to help the Tories gain domination of the local government scene in Wiltshire, at parish and town councils, the former Kennet District Council and Wiltshire's unitary council.
The only really fitting obituary to this man of multi-talents would fill volumes but I sincerely hope my precis of this remarkable man’s life will open the eyes of readers to what he did.
Harry was a small man but he was like the proverbial terrier who would never let go of whatever he seized on if he believed it was for the better for his beloved Great Britain.
He epitomised the old West Country saying that “the best things come wrapped in small parcels”.
For a man who did not move to Wiltshire until he was well over 80 Harry has left a huge indelible mark on the town, district and county.
In 1998 Harry was awarded an MBE for his services to politics, a lowly award considering all he did for the Conservatives at local and national level. In his typically pragmatic style Harry’s comment when the award was made was: “What took them so long!”
Alfie and Annie JohnsonMarlborough Town Crier Alfie Johnson said he had lost his soul mate and his former teenage sweetheart after his wife Anne died on Saturday at Great Western Hospital.
Mrs Johnson, 68, died about 18 hours after being admitted to the Swindon hospital last Friday after her health began to deteriorate rapidly at Coombe End Court nursing home where she had been cared for over the past 16 months.
Her husband and their daughter Diane were at her bedside when she passed away.
Mrs Johnson, nee Fraser, who was born and brought up in Ogbourne St Andrew, had been confined to her bed by failing health in the months before her death.
She was educated at the former Ogbourne St Andrew village school before attending Marlborough Secondary Modern School which was on The Common at the time.
After leaving school she went to work for the former Pelhams Puppet factory in Marlborough which during the Sixties and Seventies was one of the town’s largest employers.
She was still in her teens when mutual friends arranged a blind date with Mr Johnson who was at that time as employed as a shoe repairer after completing his National Service in the Army where he was a bandsman.
Mrs Johnson, who outlived her two brothers, was married in 1967 in St Andrew’s Church at Ogbourne and the couple honeymooned in Southsea before moving into the London Road cottage that was home for the rest of her life.
Their wedding invitations invited guests to the marriage of Bubbles and Yop. She was nicknamed Bubbles by her workmates because of her smiling personality and Mr Johnson had been called Yop by army mates.
Mrs Johnson continued to work for Pelhams after the birth of their daughter and her pastimes were knitting and sewing.
She was a great supporter of the town’s former carnival, made costumes for some of the entries and acted as chaperone for carnival queens for many years.
Most of all Mrs Johnson was known for her support for her husband’s role as town crier and he rarely turned out without her.
Mr Johnson, 15 years her senior and town crier for 21 years, said: “She looked after me 150 per cent as town crier. Anne would always make sure my costume was smart and that my bell was polished.
“Not only did she accompany me everywhere, she also acted as my official photographer.”
After leaving Pelhams Mrs Johnson became a volunteer helper at the Jubilee Centre for some years until a debilitating condition left her virtually housebound.
Daughter Diane said: “Anything to do with animals or babies then Mum was in her element.”
At the time of publication details of the funeral arrangements have still not been finalised.
At the start of the Town Council meeting on Monday evening (December 15), Mayor Marian Hannaford-Dobson invited councillors, officers and members of the public to stand for two minutes silence in memory and in honour of Annie Johnson.