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Events > 2009

Memorial Service for Alfred & Betty Wainwright

Buttermere ChurchOn Saturday 28th February 2009, St James’ Church at Buttermere was full to capacity with Wainwright Society Members, plus friends and relatives of Alfred and Betty Wainwright. They had assembled to pay tribute to the lives of these two individuals, AW the Lakeland guidebook writer and Betty, 'his rock' following Betty’s death last summer.

Included in the gathering were Linda Collinge, AW’s great niece, Jane King and Annie Sellar, Betty’s two daughters and their families, plus officials from the Wainwright Society including Chairman Eric Robson, Secretary Peter Linney, Press & Publicity Officer John Burland, and Derry Brabbs, often referred to as AW’s 'official' photographer as he collaborated on seven books with AW between 1984 and 1992.

In A Pennine Journey AW wrote ‘For slow travel, or when I am tired, hymns are best; not the noisy modern tunes, but the old ones, the softer melodies: ‘Breathe on me, breath of God’,.. and best of all, ‘Abide with me’; old familiar tunes which can never lapse and be forgotten; quiet tunes and comforting words learnt in childhood, and later loved.’

Therefore at the service, three of AW & Betty’s favourite hymns were sung, ‘Guide me o thou Great Redeemer’, ‘All things bright and beautiful’, and ‘Abide with me’. Readings in the service included Matthew 6, v 19 – 21, ‘Don’t store treasures for yourselves here on earth where moths and rust will destroy them and thieves can break in and steal them’, read by Linda Collinge from the Wainwright family bible that was given to her by her grandmother - AW’s sister; a poem by Birago Diop entitled The Dead Are Not Gone, read by Jane King; a passage from A Pennine Journey, AW’s ‘ideal woman’, read by Annie Sellar; some words from the prophet, Kahlil Gibran, Speak to us of Giving and Speak to us of Death read by Julia Bradbury and finally a passage read by Eric Robson from On Mountain Climbing in Cumberland by A. D. Godly.

AW's beloved Haystacks from Buttermere

Derry Brabbs spoke during the service about ‘Reflections’. He talked about the many times he had visited AW & Betty at Kendal Green and although they were very opposite in many things (AW was 6ft 2 inches and Betty 5 feet nothing for example), as the saying goes, opposites attract and there was certainly an attraction on both sides in their marriage. He mentioned the fact that AW had promised Betty ten good years of marriage and they ended up with twenty-one years together before he passed away in 1991. Betty lived another seventeen years but he feels they are now together walking on Haystacks that can be viewed from the memorial window to AW in the church.

After the service, the congregation and participants retired to The Fish Hotel in Buttermere where we reflected on their lives and talked about our personal memories of AW and Betty over soup and sandwiches

John Burland - Society Press and Publicity Officer 

The Memorial to AW in Buttermere Church