Arrivals and Departures
Sadly, two of our long-serving Committee members stood down at the last AGM, but we are delighted to have a new member come on board.
Gil has brought a wealth of expertise in the arts and education to the Committee, through a background working as a curator and lecturer at the V&A, and subsequently as a lecturer for Christies, specialising in ceramics. Her love and knowledge of all things Georgian made Stamford a natural home when she moved from London.
She is probably best known to members for her wonderful talks on a wide range of topics, such as ‘Josiah Wedgwood: Vase Maker General to the Universe’ and ‘20th Century Jewellery’. A more permanent memento of her time on the Committee was commissioning artist Peter Ashley to produce the painting ‘Unmitigated Stamford’. This lovely capriccio depicts a selection of the most notable buildings in Stamford. It contains examples of architecture from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, plus a number of picturesque inclusions, such as a steam-hauled railway train. Members were able to buy prints at a reduced price and a percentage of the proceeds from their sale was donated to the Civic Society.
Her other contributions to the Committee have included giving new life and design to the biennial newsletter, before the Committee made the practical decision to put this online. One of the lesser known roles of a Committee member is getting their hands dirty and over the years Gil has done more than her fair share of cleaning St Leonard’s Priory and removing dead pigeons. Gil says that she has enjoyed the Committee’s ability to argue without rancour, is in awe of the dedication and hard work put in by her fellow members, and relishes the many friends she has made while serving with them.
After 35 years in the City working as an underwriter and risk assessor, including secondments to African countries, Peter was ready, on his retirement, to move away from London and its hectic life. He discovered Stamford – an active and vibrant market town that sparked his imagination. Stamford had all the things that he was looking for, including a pleasing built environment and an active and viable community.
In 2001 he was persuaded to join the Committee by Dr Jack Till (an early Chairman of the Society and local GP). Early on Peter realised that to get anything done you need stamina, determination and persuasion to challenge assumptions about what is possible. His first project involved working with other members to rescue St Leonard’s Priory – the most neglected medieval building in Stamford. This has been a great success!
Often projects looked deceptively easy at first but required acquiring detailed knowledge of legal matters and the workings of the church, Historic England and local government. He became very knowledgeable about getting a Blue Plaque erected – to commemorate the antiquarian, William Stukeley.
Peter always emphasises that the Society gets things done by good teamwork. He has enjoyed working on projects with others, such as the Sundial project, and the range of interpretation boards, which help to explain to residents, as well as the increasing number of tourists, about Stamford’s fascinating history. Other successful projects have included organising Stamford’s ‘open garden’ visits and improving the Bastion and its grass verge on West Street.
David Lankester writes “I’ve been lucky, because I’ve lived in or near Stamford for over 30 years and have many happy memories, with children at local schools, some good friendships, visits to the Arts Centre and Tolethorpe, and other treats like going on local walks, playing tennis, and tobogganing at Barnsdale with Rutland Water frozen completely over – and even some coffee stops along the way!
“Alongside this, there’ve been opportunities to be part of local life and at various times I’ve been on the Board or Management Committee of the Stamford Mercury, the Arts Centre, Stamford Hospital, the Men of Stones, the International Music Festival, Blue-coat School and STADFAS – reflecting some of the range of what happens in Stamford – something many of us treasure and want to take care of and build on, which is part of the Civic Society’s core aim and purpose.
“And my life hasn’t just been focussed on Stamford, because my wife, Kathy, and I have also spent four years abroad with VSO – in Gambia, Pakistan and Vietnam.
“I’ve joined the Civic Society fairly recently and am looking forward to finding out more about what it does. Amongst other things, I’ve looked at its website. It’s brilliant. I wonder how many of you have looked at it. I recommend it!”