I am a priest in the Church of England, and am Associate Priest of Coleford with Holcombe. We have two parish churches, one in each village, and a retired church just outside Holcombe where we have services four times a year. I was ordained in 2006, and Elinor Brent-Dyer was a big influence on my Christian faith; she remains very important in my life.
I first started to read the Chalet School stories in the mid 1960s when I was about 10 and used to borrow them from my local library. When I was 12, I bought four titles – Highland Twins, Lavender, Peggy and Joey Goes to the Oberland, but then moved very suddenly to adult books. However, from the age of about 19 I used to buy the Armada paperbacks, and haunt every jumble sale in my area in London. Gradually I acquired some hardbacks, and then some years later, after I had moved to Coleford, I first visited Hay-on-Wye and bought quite a lot more. A little later I met other collectors and discovered secondhand dealers, discovering, too, that EBD had written not just the Chalet School books, but lots of others as well. I began to love different editions of the books, and in many cases have a number of copies of each title.
I also read and collect quite a number of other authors, and I read a lot of theology and other church books as well – and of course the Bible. Other hobbies are a bit difficult to define, because so much of what I enjoy is bound up in what I do.
Health wise, I have M.E. which means I have to be careful about how much and what I do, but I am now able to space out what I do, and how I do it.
I spent the first 16 years of my life in Scotland, near Glasgow, and then moved to Australia where I became a teacher. I retired from teaching some years ago, and moved back to the UK. I have a very bad back complaint, so am not able to do as much as I would like, but I love gardening, and also anything to do with flowers. I am also a regular visitor to my local W.I. Market.
I began reading the Chalet School books at the age of eight, and borrowed them from the library, reading all that they had. When I discovered others who read them, and was able to read the whole series as well as EBD’s other books, it was as though a door had opened. Founding Friends of the Chalet School is probably the most important thing I have done in my life.
Like Elinor, I became a Roman Catholic, converting from being a Scottish Presbyterian in 1974. Now, I am a member of the Church of England and am sacristan for my local church, as well as doing the church flowers, and a mass of other jobs. I can honestly say that Elinor has been a huge influence on me.
We arrived on Thursday 24th October 2013, from Cats Protection in Street (Glastonbury and Wells), aged six months. We had been there about 2 months, and had come from a terrible home before that. But now we have settled in nicely, and we enjoy racing round the house, eating and sleeping. (Jill is at the front in this picture.)
I am a retired nurse married to another retired nurse whose ‘hobby’ is selling spares for British Classic M/bikes. That takes up a lot of space that could be better used for the FOCS Library.
I have done the Library for about 15 years now & I did NOT realise what I was letting myself in for when I volunteered!! In spite of that statement, I enjoy sending out about 100 books each month. I know so many members, their children, grandchildren, cats & dogs. The thing is that I wouldn’t recognise more than 1 or 2 of you if I met you! It has been lovely to meet some of you at various functions. I have photos & postcards sticking out from between the books which are changed when they fall to the floor once too often.
The Library used to be just EBD’s books & in one bookcase downstairs but I have had to move it upstairs to the spare bedroom where it now overflows from 3 bookcases & several boxes (for the photocopies) taking up the room I need for a second bed!! Only one guest at a time now! There is now a Book Annex which has books by other authors, some suggested by you & others that I thought people might enjoy.
When I am sat at my desk I have a lovely view up the field with trees to the left. There are deer, bunnies, foxes, pheasants, buzzards, redwings, song thrushes, tits of nearly all varieties etc. We used to have 3 sorts of Owls nesting nearby but now see only the barn owl occasionally.
I can’t think of anything else to tell you – except please do not complain that you can’t read all the series as they are too expensive to buy. The Library is here for you & there are ALL Elinor’s books here. Even if you have the original you can still borrow the GGBP ones to read the extras!
I look after the FOCS subscriptions for Australia. Members pay in Australian dollars and I convert it to pounds and send it to FOCS once a year. I’ve been dong this since Ann moved to the UK. I’m a passionate collector of mainly girls school stories starting with Elsie Oxenham and Dorita Fairlie Bruce when friend of the family gave me come old copies when I was about 8 and then came across the Chalet School a few years later.
I now have a complete set of the Chalet School in hard cover as well as many other titles. I have over 2,000 girlsown type titles. I met Ann when I was about 19 as she gave me a lift to my first meeting with other collectors and lent me many books – I had no idea there were so many titles and different authors I hadn’t yet met.