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Alan Titchmarsh remembers Ilkley Manor House supporter

Alan Titchmarsh, Neil Budgen, Ken Jaquiery, and Bob O'Regan (Photo: Oliver Thomas)

The life of the late Peggy Lambert, a dedicated teacher, lifelong gardener and long-time supporter of Ilkley Manor House, has been celebrated by the creation of an oak bench now installed in the courtyard at Ilkley Manor House.

Alan Titchmarsh, patron of the Trust, visited Ilkley Manor House on Wednesday 3 April to unveil the bench. Peggy taught Alan as a young boy in Ilkley and the two remained close over many years.

Alan commented, “Peggy was an excellent teacher—frm but fair. She touched many people’s lives both as a teacher and long-standing resident of Ilkley.”

The bench was designed and built by Ken Jaquiery in his workshop on East Parade. Ken is a skilled craftsman and ceramicist. For many years, he worked building and renovating homes, and ceramics was a creative outlet. However, he has now turned his skills to even more artistic ventures, taking commissions for constructing furniture, including work for Nell Bank Outdoor Education Centre and Fountains Abbey.

Ken worked with several artisan craftspeople to create the bench, including stonemason Bob O’Regan, who built the drystone wall that was used for the legs, and wood carver Jane Carpenter of @growingwiththegrain on Instagram. A friend, Neil Budgen, helped design the jigs for cutting the bench’s joints. It was truly a collaborative and creative project.

Peggy’s family contributed to the costs, with additional funding from Ilkley Town Council.

Peggy’s daughters Carol Gerlach and Wendy Kilmartin said: “When we met Ken at his workshop, we were very happy with his idea that the curve of the bench represented the hug of a mother. As the bench was made of oak, we suggested the centre back stave should have an oak leaf and acorns carved into it, representing our family’s historical connection to oak trees. The base, cast from a dry-stone wall, we thought would evoke memories of all the walks our Mum enjoyed with the Evergreens walking group over many decades – every Tuesday, whatever the weather.”

Ken commented, “It has been a real pleasure to work on this commission. Talking with Peggy’s family to understand their ideas and helping to design the piece to capture their memories of their mother was a real joy.”

The bench is now in place in the Castle Yard courtyard. Sir Rodney Brooke, president of Ilkley Manor House Trust, said, “We are delighted to have been able to commission this piece. It enhances the courtyard of the Manor House, adds to the public art in the town and its connection to Peggy, who gave so much to so many generations of Ilkley schoolchildren, makes it all the more special.”

Alan spent Tuesday evening at another venue in Ilkley he supports and remembers fondly having performed on the stage as a child, the King's Hall and Winter Garden, hosting an evening to a full house and waving his fee so all profits could go to the charity, The Friends of the King's Hall and Winter Garden.


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