Ian

Bunny’s oldest son Ian was born in 1923 in Brasted, Kent, and grew up at Thatches, the thatched house built for his parents on nearby Brasted Chart by his maternal grandfather, Sir Archibald Hurd. In fact, Sir Archibald (Jampy) was a regular presence, since he built it in the grounds of his own. It was a large, comfortable house with spacious grounds in which to play games and have adventures.

Jampy had been Naval Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph during the First World War, and since Ian had been born on the anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, it seemed appropriate to ask Lord Jellicoe if he would be Ian’s godfather, which he agreed to be.

His younger brother Christopher was born four years later, with Treacher-Collins syndrome, a rare calcium deficiency which required a great deal of medical care, special schools, and one of the earliest ‘portable’ hearing aids the size of a large briefcase full of batteries! Ian had to help more than he otherwise might, since Bunny was working abroad extensively—on the electrification of the railways in India, and then in Argentina as adviser to Lord Ampthill.

At 8, Ian was sent to Pinewood boarding school, followed by Marlborough College. During those years, he used to spend weekends with his cousins the Hurds; Stephen, Julian and Douglas—who later became Foreign Secretary.

It was at Marlborough College that he learned to love music, singing in the choir and playing the trumpet in the orchestra. He left Marlborough in 1942 at the height of the war, but because he had obtained a place at Trinity College Cambridge (like his father), National Service was postponed, and he spent two years at Trinity, studying mathematics to start with and then switching to Engineering. Here too he followed his father by rowing for Trinity, and was able to develop his musical talents, on one occasion singing in the Cambridge University Musical Society at Kings College under the direction of Ralph Vaughan Williams.

During the war his father had developed an interest in gardening and livestock as a way of ‘doing his bit’, and Ian found great satisfaction in helping out; the spark that lit a lifelong interest.

On graduation in 1944, he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as a ‘Probationary Temporary Electrical Midshipman RNVR’, specialising in ASDIC. Following initial training in Gourock, he was posted to the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla in charge of the maintenance of all the ASDIC sets. Although he was officially attached to HMS Myngs, the flotilla leader, in practice he spent most of the time on HMS Zephyr.

When he left the Navy in 1947, by now promoted to Lieutenant, he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Supplementary Reserve (RNVSR), a pre-war association that was enlarged after the war to accommodate those who wished to be considered for call-up in an emergency, but were unpaid and kept themselves abreast of Naval affairs in their spare time, but without specific training. At the same time, Ian set up and edited the London Flotilla Bulletin, a bimonthly—later quarterly—newsletter for the RNVSR, and continued to do so until 1959, when he retired and was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander.

He has maintained a lifelong interest in the ships of Royal Navy, whether of this or any other period. He was employed in his grandfather’s magazine, Shipping World, as a technical journalist. He also found that a new GP had moved into Brasted village, with two very attractive daughters, one of whom quickly became very important in his life. Dinah Weston shared his love of music and animals, and also learned to share a love of sailing.

Ian taught himself to sail while in the RN, and afterwards bought a 10 ft ex-RN dinghy. Later Ian and Dinah’s brother Peter became co-owners of an 18 ft clinker-built dayboat called Elizabeth, and Dinah came on many adventures round the south coast of England.

They were married at Sundridge in 1949, and after a honeymoon in war-torn Brittany moved to a flat in the Old Brompton Road in London, where Ian worked at Shipping World, and Dinah was a physiotherapist at St Thomas’s Hospital. They lived on the third floor, and Dinah was asked by the owner of the shop on the ground floor if she could persuade Ian not to jump down the last of the stairs on his way out in the morning, as it was damaging her stock of hats!

In 1950, son David was born at St Thomas’s, and he was wheeled out to Kensington gardens with the Mackerras children who were a similar age.

In 1952, with another child on the way, it was time to move to somewhere with fewer stairs, and Ian and Dinah bought Orchard Cottage in Ivy Hatch, near Sevenoaks, Kent. It was tiny and old (c. 1850) but a convenient commute from London. It had three acres of fruit and nut trees which would allow them to achieve their dream of running a smallholding.

Richard was born in the December at Orchard Cottage, and the following year they tried to grow fruit (cherries and pears) and cob nuts. But the local wildlife had other ideas. The land was surrounded by trees in which the squirrels and pigeons would sit until the crop was not quite ripe—and then descend. In the end they had to come out.

There were successes, however; Dinah kept about half an acre under vegetables and soft fruit; potatoes, runner and broad beans, peas, strawberries, raspberries, red and white currants, rhubarb—it was an amazing achievement in addition to the mass of flower beds and lawns to tend. Ian’s job was the remainder of the land, which was increasingly given over to livestock; geese, ducks, chickens, and, when the boys grew old enough, guinea pigs, ponies and sheep. His wartime involvement with his father, raising goats and poultry proved a valuable training ground and he was adept at fencing, mowing, and all the skills needed to look after the various animals.

Perhaps the largest project of this kind was the erection of half a pre-fab house adjacent to the cottage, which functioned as a children’s playroom, aviary, dining room for large Christmas lunches, and, increasingly, as a music practice room. The separation from the house was just enough to provide good sound insulation, but not too far to be inconvenient.

Like his grandfather and father before him, he loves dogs (a love shared enthusiastically by Dinah), and the house was never without one, two, and occasionally three in the house. Early experiments with Susie (a Lakeland terrier), Jenny (a mad Jack Russell) and Tosca (a collie–Labrador cross) were followed by a long line of lurchers—at least five come to mind, but there may be more—who have been their constant companions throughout their lives.

Dinah found part-time work locally at the Thomas de la Rue School for handicapped children as a physiotherapist, and Ian continued to commute by James motorcycle (to Sevenoaks station) and train.

Shipping World was an independent magazine owned by Jampy when he started work there. His work involved a significant amount of travel; he sailed the entire length of the St Lawrence Seaway, and there were shakedown cruises on liners such as the Canberra. On some of these Dinah was invited too, and one particularly memorable one took them round the Mediterranean on the Empress of Britain (after conversion to cruise liner) to Morocco and Sardinia among other places.

When Jampy died in 1959 Ian became editor, but found that the post-war rush of merchant shipping expansion had died down, and there wasn’t room for the plethora of magazines in the market. It was taken over by publishers Benn Brothers in 1962. He was promoted to Technical Editor of Cabinet Maker, a position he held until his retirement. Overseas travel requirements were reduced to annual trade fairs in Hanover or Cologne.

Around the same time he started another magazine, Chandler and Boatbuilder, with a friend in the village, Jack Hemmings. Like Cabinet Maker, it was a trade journal, but for those involved in the chandlery business and ran for a few years before it outlived its usefulness.

As a result of his position with Cabinet Maker, he was asked to join the Woodworking Machinery Suppliers Association, and later the ASFI, Association of Suppliers to the Furniture Industry, of which he ultimately became treasurer.

Having stopped playing trumpet in the Navy, Ian took it up again after a gap of 15 years in 1960, and was soon in demand from many organisations in the Sevenoaks area, including the Sevenoaks orchestra, where he became Chairman in addition to regular first trumpet. He also played French horn regularly when required, and was much in demand on remembrance Sunday each year to play the Last Post.

Dinah’s keyboard skills had been sufficiently good to allow serious consideration of a professional training before qualifying for secretarial work and then physiotherapy, and this was also renewed, playing organ in the local ‘tin tabernacle’—the church in Ivy Hatch; something she was to do until they moved.

Ponies were a feature of the Orchard Cottage menagerie from the late 1950s for maybe 30 years; long after the boys had moved on to other pastimes. Ian and Dinah both rode occasionally, Dinah even taking part in the local hunt.

The sheep were introduced after younger son Rick received a small inheritance from his great uncle Bill in 1970. He decided to invest in a small flock of sheep (six, to be precise). He needed Dad’s expertise, and soon Ian was tapping local knowledge and reading all the books he could find as the first season produced a bumper crop of medical emergencies. Another of Rick’s enterprises was birds, and the playroom became home to a motley collection of finches, cockatiels, and budgerigars.

But children soon fly the nest, and Rick’s sheep soon became Ian and Dinah’s sheep, and Rick’s birds (by this time reduced to budgerigars) became Ian and Dinah’s birds, and they, like the ponies, became a semi-permanent fixture at Orchard Cottage.

The budgerigars were located in an external aviary, and Ian decided to experiment with free-flying budgies, as pioneered in the UK by the Duke of Bedford. The experiment was a success, and for several years, a colourful flock of budgies could be seen in the breeding season, circling Orchard Cottage at high speed.

And there was a third thread to their home life; sailing. Elizabeth had proved too large to be practical, and was sold very early on. But from holidays at Cawsand in Cornwall, when Ian managed to borrow the prototype Bosun dinghy from a wartime Navy colleague at Plymouth, there were a succession of dinghies—a tiny round-bilged one 7 ft 6 in long that was borrowed for a holiday on Loch Sunart; a GP14 that was sailed on Bough Beech reservoir in Kent; a Drascombe Dabber that was a comfortable fit for four or five, but still capable of being trailed, that came on holidays to Loch Melfort in Scotland—and the ultimate expression of his interest and skill—Heron, a lightweight wood-and-canvas design that Ian designed and built from scratch. As originally built, she was double-ended, with a Heron gunter lug rig. She had a dagger plate and a rudder connected to a separate tiller by ropes, and because of her light weight was a truly exhilarating boat to sail single-handed in a fresh (but not too fresh) breeze. She was designed to fit upside down on the family trailer (also built by Ian from bits of pre-fab flooring and a 1930s Austin solid axle), and to be easily manhandled by himself and Dinah, and she has made innumerable trips to Loch Melfort, south of Oban, which became the favoured spot for family holidays for many years. Subsequently, the canoe stern was removed to allow easy fitment of a small outboard, and was last used in this role in 2006.

Holidays also provided the spur for Ian’s ability to invent doggerel on the spur of the moment. In the sixties, holidays were generally taken at Cawsand in Cornwall, involving a twelve-hour car journey complete with trailer full of food. Packing up was a major excitement for the children, as was the early start, and Ian came out with atrocious rhymes on the way down to keep them entertained.

Ian retired from journalism in 1985, and started a new career as a smallholder at Green Hayes Farm, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire where he and Dinah expanded the flock of sheep to a maximum of about 70 ewes on the 32 acre property, and built a major extension on to this property, the original part of which has been dated back to 1610–1630.

In addition to the sheep, the chickens, dogs, cats and budgies came too, and have since been joined by Barabands, a type of parakeet. The first one flew in and moped around the budgie aviary until Ian took pity and built it a separate one alongside. He’s been provided with a mate, and they have successfully bred.

Music has played an even larger part in their lives here, and they have at various times been part of the Bromyard Wind Band, the Worcester Concert Orchestra, the Leominster Choral Society, and the Brass Farthings, a small brass group that originated in Kent with themselves and Bob Young, and migrated when all three of them moved west about the same time. Dinah played the organ in Leysters church until 2008, and Ian was a church warden.

At the age of 90, Ian joined the Ludlow Wind Band, which plays concerts regularly, and continues to play the Last Post and Reveille at the Remembrance Day services in the parish, as he has done every year since 1988.

And here he is, at the age of 90 in Leysters Church on 10 Nov 2014, sounding as bright and clear as ever, even if he has to sit down these days!

Like Orchard Cottage, Green Hayes is a focal point for many family activities, and is regarded as a second home by David, Rick, their friends, their children, and their children’s friends.

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