Averil Weaver-The First Book of Autumn

Averil Weaver-The First Book of Autumn

The refurbished gates at Holy Cross

The refurbished gates at Holy Cross

Newsletter February 2021

Dear Friends

My last missive as Master and how the year has flown. I cannot help but feel uncomfortable that such bad luck has beset the Shrewsbury Drapers on my watch. I started with floods and then rapidly moved on to plague. I accept that I will have contributed to climate change but I deny any involvement in the spread of the Covid virus. Growing up with a black and white television I would watch Monty Python and you would have heard me this year often whistling under my breath “Always look on the bright side of life.” That is exactly what I have tried to do during this very different year.

Our almshouse operation is almost entirely reliant on volunteers giving up their free time and offering their experience with the focussed aim of providing quality accommodation for our residents through the challenging times. My thanks to all those volunteers and their supporters.

Now we have a Government escape plan out of Covid and I hope that almshouse residents, Drapers and all their respective their families will remain uninfected and content until being able to resume a more normal life.

London Drapers Grant for the 2021 Textile Competition and Exhibition

We have received a donation of £1000 from the London Drapers. The money is specifically to support our Textile Design Competition and Exhibition. We are extremely grateful to the London Drapers’ Textile Working Group for proposing us to Philanthropy Director, Andy Mellows for consideration. I have written a letter of thanks to Andy and assured him that we shall use the grant as specified. Gaynor Bowen has forged the link with London Drapers and is now a valued member of London Drapers’ Textile Working Group. It is entirely as a result of Gaynor that we have received this money and it is her we should all be thanking as well.

Project Development Group

In early February there was the first meeting of the Project Development Group chaired by Brian Newman with Robin Gough, Louise Galliers and Doug Allan. They are tasked by SDHC board to look at almshouse development options and will be asking other Drapers to join them as the work develops. 

Holy Cross Gates

The wrought iron entrance gates at Holy Cross have been rehung after refurbishment. The visual aspect of the almshouses is much enhanced, go and have a look.

Members list

You should have all received a 2021 Members list. Jan would be very grateful if you could notify to her any omissions or mistakes.

Almshouse Manager

A new Almshouse Manager has been appointed for Drapers Place.  Nicola White works Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Contact details shrewsbury-drapers@outlook.com 01743 353503. We also have a new bookkeeper Jo Wood working alongside Nicola.

I hope Nicola and Jo find the work interesting and fulfilling.

Future social occasions

We are not quite at the stage where we are able to organise normal face to face social occasions but I hope that we will be able to resume later this year. I am very grateful to John Moore for reiterating his willingness to organise musical events for us. I know that his generous offer will be taken up just as soon as it is safe. Thank you John.

Jackie Ryan Memorial Prize 2020

I am delighted to tell you that the winner of the Jackie Ryan Memorial Award 2020 is Averil Weaver. Averil's entry for the award entitled “First Book of Autumn” was specifically designed for the competition.  The photos show details of her winning entry, an intricate book of embroidery for a child on a linen background.  Due to the current restrictions we were unable to hold the interviews at Tweedmill in January as we had hoped.  However, the shortlisted students were able to submit a digital portfolio and have a Zoom interview with Tweedmill early February.  Averil is a student at Shrewsbury 6th Form College and is currently studying for her A Levels in Textiles, Geography and English.  She is planning to go to university to study textiles and has selected Edinburgh as her first choice.   We are hoping that Averil can carry out her work placement at Tweedmill later in the year before starting her university course in September.

I am sure everyone will join me in congratulating Averil and wishing her every success in her textile studies.  We look forward to following her progress with her work placement at Tweedmill later in the year.

Throws designed by Jackie Ryan Memorial Prize winner, Sarah Mills available for purchase

Drapers and friends that would like to order one of the new throws please get in touch with Gaynor.  The next production run will be due in May so we could place a group order for delivery once the next batch is available.  

The colours are very soft and 'on trend' with the latest interior colour palettes in mind. 100% Pure New Wool cost £45 of which £15 will be put towards the 2021 Textile Design Competition.

It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to work with you and for you. May Shrewsbury Drapers Company go from strength to strength.

Stay safe and well




Newsletter January 2021

Dear Friends

A very warm welcome to five new members Alison Wright, Sally Perrin, Alan Craddock, Brian Evans, and Nick Prosser. I hope that you enjoy and develop a real interest in the history, social benefit and charitable side of our Draper’s Company.  There is lots to do and get involved with. Normally we would be able to meet and chat at one of our regular social events but the strange circumstances of the past year prevent that. I personally look forward to getting to know you all better once some form of normality returns.

Thank you to all who attended the Elections Court via Zoom that happened to coincide with Burns Night. A mental note must be made to avoid the 25th January next year. There was a deal of the “elixir of life” in evidence!  It was wonderful the membership agreed to 5 new Drapers and I know you will join me and make them welcome. I hope you found the documents and reports interesting and thought provoking. If you have questions please do get in contact.

At the Court I made a plea for volunteers to step forward to update the Shrewsbury Drapers Company (SDC) website. The website is used by SDC, Shrewsbury Drapers Holy Cross Ltd (SDHC), the Shrewsbury Drapers Hall Preservation Trust and the tenant of the Drapers Hall restaurant. I am delighted that Nigel Hinton and new Draper Alison Wright will lead on this task.

Richard Clowes has been responsible for populating the website for a number of years and has been the contact for the host company. Richard has a wealth of experience in managing it and he understands the need for updating more than most. He will work with Nigel and Alison but wishes to hand over the ongoing responsibility of keeping it updated and current. Please do make yourself known to Richard or me if you could help.

Richard has been an enormous help to me over the years and especially during my year as Master. His eagle eyes have saved me embarrassment combing newsletters etc. for accuracy and GDPR compliance necessary when placed in the public domain.

The photographs are Sarah Mills - Winner of The Jackie Ryan Memorial Award 2019 receiving the sample Tweedmill throw that she designed in her placement and a close up of the throw. The throw will be included In the Tweedmill Autumn Winter 2021 Catalogue. Congratulations to Sarah in her first year of Textile design at university.

The Almshouse Management Committee has a Flood Management policy which is activated on receipt of an Environment Agency flood warning. The volunteer flood wardens for the almshouses were notified on the 16th December that such a flood warning for the River Severn in Shrewsbury was in place. The warning was lifted on the 3rd of January with thankfully no action necessary. We received another a flood alert on the 21st January and flood wardens monitored the ingress of water in the undercroft at Drapers Place. The car park area remained dry throughout and no damage was sustained.

Almshouse Manger Katie Potter has been working from home with visits to Drapers Place to test the fire alarm and to collect any post. This situation will be reviewed in line with the Government recommendations of the time. Katie is to leave us shortly having accepted a new full time job with a local company and will leave on the 18th February. I wish her success in her new role but her cheerfulness and willingness will be greatly missed.

 Please note the new email address to contact the office in Drapers Place.                


Installation of the 2021 Master John Crackett, Senior Warden Brian Newman and Junior Warden Henry Milward will take place via Zoom on the evening of Monday 5th March.  I hope as many of you as possible join me in making this evening memorable for John in these strained circumstances. Details will be circulated in February.

Kindest regards


In Memory-Dr Patrick Anderson

Family Doctor, Musician, St Chad’s Churchgoer,Master of the Shrewsbury Drapers’ Company 1993-4

Patrick was well known to many of those who lived in Shrewsbury and Shropshire.  We in the Drapers Company will miss him at our meetings and social gatherings.  He was a very respected and well known former GP who gave much to our town.  He died on 12th December at home with Ruth and some of his family. Originally Patrick’s consulting rooms on St John’s Hill were in the house which he inherited from his father, who was a Consultant Surgeon at the nearby Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, on the corner of the toll bridge road and Murivance.  Tricia and I became near neighbours to Patrick and Ruth when we moved to Town Walls, but he was a friend to us even before we moved to Shropshire.

Before he joined the Drapers’ Company his main interest, apart from music and singing with the Phoenix Singers, was his faith.  He continued worshipping at St Chad’s throughout his life.  He was a pillar of strength at the church, serving, stewarding and being on the pastoral committee. He also served on the Fabric Committee  looking after our Grade I listed Church and the Church Hall. This interest in restoration was extended to the Drapers’ Hall and he assisted the major repair programme to this building in the 1980s, with all his local knowledge.  With a membership of the SDC rising to twelve at this time, Patrick was a reassuring presence  regarding the care and welfare of the 20 almspersons. 

As Master of SDC in 1993, he helped to continue its revival as a Livery Company.  During his year of office he assisted me in arranging the 550th anniversary of the foundation of the Drapers’ Almshouses in St Mary’s churchyard adjacent to the Hall.

Such was his love for Shrewsbury, he donated a series of marvellous photographs which can be found in Drapers’ Place Almshouses, in the corridors around the Bradbury Room.  These show perhaps an insight into his feelings and commitment to the town, a place in which he had served the community all his long and successful life.

John Patrick


Newsletter December 2020

Dear Friends

December saw a plethora of different messages from the government about how to stay safe through the festive season as the new strain of Covid took hold. Many of us ended up with very different celebrations than planned but I hope that, although missing friends and family, you knew you were keeping them and yourselves safe and healthy. I suspect a number of us partied with a bottle of something good “a deux,” frolicked along to some records and CD’s and Zoomed off to see the relatives and grandchildren.

The work of managing our almshouses has gone on uninterrupted and I pay particular thanks to the Almshouse Management and Residents’ Welfare Committees. Putting in place Covid safe procedures has been no small feat and we all owe both the AMC and RWC a vote of thanks.

Patrick Anderson

At the beginning of the December extraordinary elections court Patrick Anderson was remembered by John Patrick’s very moving words and a few moments silent reflection on a life kindly lived.


A very warm welcome to two new Drapers, Ian Davies and Jonathan Davies.

Ian will be joining the board of SDHC, initially to shadow Andy Haslewood and then to take over as Finance Director in May on Andy’s retirement. Ian worked for Tranter Lowe and has a long and distinguished association with the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce. He enjoys country pursuits and lives in Corvedale.

Jonathan Davies as an ardent singer will be a wonderful addition to our pop up choirs. Johnathan’s background is a Civil Engineer working around the globe. He is now settled in Shrewsbury.

Christmas Wishes Exchanged

The Guild received a number of Christmas cards from residents expressing best wishes to us all for Christmas and New Year. Every resident received a card from me on your behalf wishing each one a happy Christmas and a safe new year.

I have also thanked Frances and Katie on your behalf for their work keeping the residents safe and sane throughout this exceptional year. If one small benefit can be taken from the Covid pandemic it is how beautiful our gardens have looked as so many of us have had enforced spare time to tend them. Unfortunately this can also be taken to reflect the seriousness of the disease and how it must be treated.

I have exchanged Christmas cards, news and good wishes with the other Guilds with which we share close relationships and with whom we normally socialise and entertain. I have also written to my Chaplain and local organisations with whom we have common interests.

Textile Design Competition and Jackie Ryan Memorial Prize 2020.

We have had an excellent Textile Design Competition. Earlier in the year it appeared certain that we would have to cancel the event in its entirety. However, due to superb work by Gaynor Bowen, Sue Ratcliffe and Elaine Adams a student competition has been held with the exhibits displayed for judging in Drapers Hall in early December. It is of enormous regret that we were not able to allow public access to see the excellent work that we had submitted.

The student competition judging took place with Bart Ryan-Beswick, Director of Tweedmills evaluating the entries. The photographs and details are on our website under “Textile Competitions,” “Adult and Student.” Once again Bart is offering the Jackie Ryan Memorial Prize for best entry and I can tell you that he was blown away by the quality of the exhibits. So good were they that he selected three for a run off that will be an opportunity for the deserving students to visit the factory in Flint and to present their portfolios to finalise the outright winner. All three are very highly commendable whoever is eventually selected, watch this space. We hope that Covid restrictions will not prevent the factory visit and final judging.

The Textile Competition organising committee will shortly be looking how they can provide a viable and vibrant competition in 2021. All ideas are welcome and different talents may be required in administration, IT and general management. If you can help please volunteer to Gaynor.

We have sold a number of throws designed by the 2018 winner, Rebekah Longland and I was fascinated to learn from Bart that the geometrical design and colouring had proved very popular in sales to Japan. It is a huge feather in Rebekah’s cap and an important passport to future employment.

Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings

In 2019 some of us were treated to a visit by Historic England to the Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings in Ditherington. The YouTube video below shows the fabulous work that has taken place since and during lockdown. Once finished the site and its historic buildings are going to be of enormous benefit to Shrewsbury. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Dt7sYH6LlU&feature=youtu.be

January Elections Court

There will shortly be a call for the January elections court. I hope you will be able to assist in ‘appointing’ by Zoom in the latter half of January a number of prospective Drapers. I am really pleased at the interest shown in joining us and hope this bodes well for the future.


What is a Christmas without snow? We have certainly managed a good white over but of poor sledging quality and does not replace the ski holiday in Wengen. You might be interested to see the photograph and text from 1963 supplied by Jonathan Davies.

 I send my own and my husband David’s very personal good wishes for 2021 to each of you and your family and friends.



Newsletter November 2020

Dear Friends

I do hope that you and your family remain well and all are finding ways of coping with these challenging times. I have heard of heartache and exhaustion from Covid 19 symptoms and I hope those you know are recovering.

Lots of news this month!

Holy Cross Almshouses

There are two redundant but very intricate chimneys that remain to be rebuilt at Holy Cross. Preparation work is now in progress with the appointment of a surveyor/project manager to replace them next year. The gates to the fives almshouses have been removed for repair, sandblasting and painting. Both pieces of work will complement the recent completion of the outside painting and greatly restore the visual and historical value of the buildings.

Covid 19

A resident has tested positive for Covid 19 but has now recovered. I am grateful to the resident and the support network enabling the rules to be followed for isolating. We have the best possible outcome of a recovery with no other cases. 

Clerks News

Our Clerk Jan Boyd has completed an interim house move in to Shrewsbury Drapers Hall. Jan and husband Brian have taken a short term tenancy until their permanent home is ready for occupation.

Message from Hugh Devlin Chairman of SDHPT.

It feels good to have occupants in the Hall again, even if not in the main ground floor rooms, and it will help greatly with fire precautions, security and the internal environment of the building.

Our hall monitoring team can now take a well-earned break, although I will still of course welcome observations about possible blocked gutters etc. should any of you be passing. Your efforts over the last 8 months have been invaluable and also a great source of reassurance.

There has been much more to deal with at the hall than expected since September, a mixture of dealing with quite coincidental urgent repairs to the structure, routine maintenance and security and ensuring that the services are fully fit for occupation.

Jackie Ryan Memorial Prize 2020.

The student competition judging will take place on the 9th December by Bart Ryan-Beswick, Director of Tweedmill. The entries are from a pleasing geographical spread from across the county. Entries arrive at Drapers Hall from schools and private individuals on Monday the 7th. The entries will be sorted and arranged in the hall on the Tuesday ready for judging and photographing on the Wednesday. Photographs and winning details will be placed on our website.

Gaynor and Elaine have worked very hard to enable this competition to continue and flourish.

Tweedmill Cotton Throw

'Mirage'100% cotton throw designed by Rebekah Longland, the winner of the Jackie Ryan Memorial Prize 2018, is available for purchase at £30 including a donation of £8.50 towards the 2021 Textile Design Competition. Please contact me if you wish to purchase one to snuggle up in during the winter months.

Drapers Hall Notelets for sale

John Alford’s painting of Drapers Hall has been reproduced in blank notelets suitable for your own message. They can be purchased from Tom Taylor at 6 for £5 or 13 for £10. Please contact Tom for details how to purchase and delivery arrangements. 

London Drapers’ Journal 2020

In 2019 Jan Boyd and Tom Taylor, Past Master were guests at Drapers Hall luncheon in London. Jan addressed the assembled Drapers and guests from other Guilds. Jan’s speech is printed in full in the London Drapers’ Journal 2020 Page 26.There is also an article from RAF Shawbury Group Captain Chris Mullen ADC MA RAF which is a good read. Page 52 https://www.thedrapers.co.uk/getattachment/Company/General-News/The-Drapers-Journal-2015/Drapers-new-2020-FINAL.pdf.aspx

Estimate of Volunteer Hours contributed by Shrewsbury Drapers Company to the community.  John Crackett Senior Warden has produced a paper from information given by Drapers for the hours spent working on behalf of the Company in 2019. It is not an exact number but with thought and science behind it the final figure of 8687hours of is credible and useful to understand. I think it is a stunning contribution by members and makes me incredibly proud of the organisation. Well Done

Member’s news from afar - Jane & David Wallbridge

Greetings from the land of the long white cloud-Aotearoa

As you may or not know, my husband David and I set off just over a year ago to work as doctors in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand and much to our surprise we are still here now with our visas extended to April 2021. We are based in Napier known as the Art Deco capitol as it was largely rebuilt in this style after the big 1931 earthquake.

In October 2019 we had no idea what was ahead and packed one suitcase each intending to get home in March 2020 to swap our summer for winter clothes but that never happened. We watched as Europe went into lockdown, we became essential workers here in our lockdown and the wonderful Jacinda Ardern the PM closed down our border sensibly quickly to nip the rise in corona virus cases in the bud. That has been largely successful and all kiwis and essential workers returning now go into managed isolation for 14 days and are swabbed there regularly. Oh course we have had a few escapees and Russian trawler men bringing covid in enmass but only a handful of cases in the community and genomics and contact tracing have been good. Lots of plans were made in the health care sector and we felt that we were learning lessons from the experience of COVID in Europe.

Despite our locked in status we have travelled both in north and south Island extensively. We have even seen kiwis in daytime on Stewart Island, which is New Zealand’s third island.

Wellington which we have explored on several occasions as the capitol city is an exciting buzzing place but known also as the windy city and we are very aware the whole of NZ is known as the shakey isle. We have felt a few quakes and i check on the geonet website to see there are several weak shakes most days somewhere in the country.

Unfortunately the White Island volcano explosion occurred soon after we arrived which was quite shocking knowing that tourists actually went there when the alert level had already risen. Last week we have had dramatic floods in Napier which caused land slips to houses on hills when the heavens opened with 270mm rain in 24hrs. However luckily we have an apartment by the sea and were so pleased to have Rob and Kathy Hatts to stay with us in early March this year.

We keep in touch with family by WhatsApp and regular zoom pub quizzes but being 13 hours ahead is interesting as we are up at 7am on Saturdays to see the family in Birmingham drinking cocktails at home! We are hopeful that a vaccination really is coming soon and currently plan to be home again next April. We hope that everyone remains well and stay safe.

With warm regards - Merry Christmas

Kindest Regards - Stay safe and please do keep in contact



Newsletter October 2020

Dear Friends

There is a distinct feeling of Deja Vu. Last March, shortly after Charter Night the first lockdown was announced and we had flood warnings for the river Severn in Shrewsbury. Now entering the second lockdown and the Draper flood wardens have received notification on the 2nd November from the environment agency there is another flood warning for Shrewsbury. Interrogating the information, the predicted river levels are at least two metres lower than in February and March so the properties should not be in danger.


A vacancy has arisen at Fairford Place following the sad death of the previous resident who passed away in Ludlow hospital on the 20th September.

Before moving to Fairford in 2017 she had lived at Holy Cross since 1998. The funeral was beautifully organised by an almshouse friend and I came away with knowledge of a life well lived and a respected and loved friend.  The mourners included Frances, friends, and three Drapers.

 I am happy to report that we continue covid free. We continue to urge caution and adherence to the advice and guidance given.

I am pleased to inform you that Gaynor Bowen has taken over as chair of the Textile Design Competition Committee. She has succeeded Elaine Adams whose passion for textiles in all forms and her understanding of their relevance and importance in education and employment opportunity should not be under estimated. I am enormously grateful to Elaine for all her work.

The competition framework for the Jackie Ryan memorial award for 2020 is now in place. Shropshire colleges and schools who potentially have entrants have been contacted. The full information is on the website and is available for any student entrants with a deadline of the end of November. I am pleased to report that we have already received 2 entries.

This month SDHC has submitted to the Charity Commission our Annual Return for 2019. The quality and nature of the information required depends on the size of the charity and SDHC falls in to the small charity bracket. Even so this requires a good deal of information, time and thought to ensure all is accurately represented. I am grateful to Andy Haselwood for the financial input and to Gordon Woods for the technological knowhow and operating input. The information is publically available on the Charity Commission website and is used by them for monitoring standards across charities. The consequences of failing to provide the information are quite severe and it would likely result in investigations into the charity so the effort is entirely worthwhile.

Robert Milton of the Churches Conservation Trust has asked that whether some Drapers, because of our ancient connection with St Mary’s, might like to be involved in a working party he is setting up to produce a textile altar frontal. My thanks to Sue Ratcliffe who has volunteered to join this. If anyone else is interested, please could they contact Brian Newman ASAP.

St Mary’s has this month received a grant of £96,800 from the Culture Recovery Fund. The money is earmarked for replacement of the vestry roof, stabilisation of the roof pinnacles and masonry repairs. The grant requires 20% matched funding and further funding is needed for additional conservation and repair work on the Church.

Member news from afar

John (and Tricia) Patrick

I am now 3 weeks plus from my newest cataract operation and I can say with a great deal of confidence, that things are much better this time round. Looking out of the 'new lens' onto and into this brave new world I am pleased to say that the eyes are I hope good enough to soon allow driving to resume. In other words, the second eye has gone well. I can now see enough to be able to say (like so many others who have the cataract procedure) "yes it has been worth it".  

So, all is well 'up north'.  Our new bungalow is a rebuild of the former 19th Century Bowling Pavilion standing on a former recreational site. The whole area that we now live in has been part of Altrincham since 1209.  An ancient mediaeval market was a stone's throw away and we stand on what originally was a holding pen for livestock and goods many centuries ago. The original Watling Street was at the bottom of a gentle rise - today it's iteration is the A56 going towards central Manchester - then a ruined Roman Camp and village.  Now a 23 minute Tram travel away from here.  Our current problem is of an inability to make that journey to visit the Theatres, cinemas, restaurants etc. because much of all that is of course closed. A great disappointment to us both.

We have joined the Probus, Rotary, Historical and Literary Societies and were very busy - until March.  First Lockdown saw us designing and digging out builder's rubble from a quite large garden and converting it from jungle to suburban peace. This second one will tax our inbuilt reserves of strength and determination. But I am sure that we will prevail.

Thank you John and Tricia. It is good to know that you have settled well near your family but you also need to know that you are missed in Shrewsbury.

Kindest Regards

Stay safe and please do keep in contact



Newsletter September 2020

Dear Friends

The Covid virus has had all sorts of longer term consequences but I hope that our ethos of supported living in a small almshouse community has proved beneficial. I am eternally grateful that to date residents have remained virus free. Long may that continue and thanks to all of you who have set up and maintained safe systems. Loneliness is a real risk when normal outside activity is either restricted or not possible and we have been watchful for this.

Community spirit is still developing at Drapers Place encouraged by the manager, Katie Potter. Some residents have replanted the shrubbery at the rear of the building with bedding plants which makes a colourful display to see from their apartments. Sadly some activities in the Bradbury Room organised by the residents such as film nights remain suspended due to Covid.

At Fairford Place residents have been supporting each other with the help of Frances where possible. Gardening is about to expand on a small area of land adjacent to the Warden’s bungalow which has recently been purchased and is in the process of being fenced.

St Giles’ has not been neglected. Extensive refurbishment of one bungalow has been completed and plans for gas fired central heating are well underway.

Holy Cross looks crisp and smart with its new external paint. Longer term work is being planned to replace the two chimneys which were taken down some years ago because of safety concerns.

Member news – I was delighted to hear that past master Nigel Hinton has become a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.  The Royal Historical Society, founded 1868, is a learned society which advances scholarly studies of history. Nigel has been recognised for his research into Shropshire history and specifically the history of the Drapers in recent years. His new book, Wool War and Wealth is now available at £12 50 from Nigel.

Sadly I have to inform you of the death in recent days of Peter Bevan a former Draper who did so much in the very early days to secure the new build at Drapers Place. 

Monica Pemberton and Jim Davies have resigned this year and we will miss them both.

The Guild now has 74 members so we are actively looking for new Drapers to help in the years to come. Please do contact Jan, me or the wardens if you know of people who might like to join us and who would enhance our membership. The elections court meets in January to progress new members ready for Charter Night in March.

Our AGM using ZOOM on the 28th September was well attended. It is a very great shame that we could not physically meet, eat and drink together but in the circumstances this was a good substitute. I think that the meeting went well but I do miss the interaction of the members that is possible when meeting virtually. If you feel that you would like to have raised a point or asked a question but were constrained by the technology let me know. It is never too late! 

At the AGM Gaynor Bowen presented a report on the Jackie Ryan Memorial Award for 2020. If you missed this it is in the AGM papers you should have received.

I am delighted that Tweedmill are willing to offer an excellent opportunity for a student to have a work placement in the textile industry this year despite Covid. It allows continuity of the Textile Competition but on a smaller scale. Unlike previous years there would be no theme as such this year but students could enter an existing textile piece or create a new piece appropriate to the award.

Sarah Mills, winner of the Jackie Ryan Award Award in 2019 has now successfully completed her work placement and has started her degree in Textile Design at Birmingham City University.

We wish her the very best for a future in textiles.

Keep well in the coming month and I if there is anything you would like me to address in the next newsletter a quick phone call or email will ensure I look into your query.

Kindest Regards


Newsletter August 2020

Dear Friends

There is very good news about the Student winner from 2019 Textile Design Competition, Sarah Mills. She has gained a place at Birmingham City University, her first choice, to study Textiles and she starts in September. Sarah’s submission also won the Jackie Ryan Memorial Prize and that gives her a two week work placement with renowned textile company Tweedmill in Flintshire. Due to Covid the placement has been much delayed but is wonderful to learn that she will spend her first week at Tweedmill before she starts university. In addition Sarah has completed a two day placement with Gaynor Bowen, with the remaining three days to be arranged. Sarah is very talented and you can see photographs and a short article by Gaynor about her work in textiles and jewellery on the website: https://www.shrewsburydrapers.org.uk/news/recent

I have given Sarah a note of congratulations and a copy of the book The Golden Thread (How fabric changed history) by Kassia St Clair.  

The Drapers have supported the September Historic Open Days for a number of years but this year the Drapers Hall Preservation Trust has decided not to participate. It is difficult to maintain social distancing while conducting tours in the restricted areas of Drapers Hall. The Trust has assured the organisers that we would wish to take part in future years as normal.

John and Tricia Patrick have commissioned a replica of a tapestry whose original is in the Musee National du Moyen Age in Paris. It was designed for a French nobleman and manufactured in Flanders around 1500AD and they wished to make it a present to the Shrewsbury Drapers. The stitching marathon of the piece (over 400 hours) was taken over by two enthusiastic embroiderers Andrew and Mary Thomson of Ellesmere and was completed in the spring and has been undertaken in the style of the 16th century. It was intended to arrange an event to introduce the Thompsons to the Drapers and for them to explain how they had done the work to stitch the tapestry. Sadly this has had to be cancelled for the present and I am speaking with John and Tricia to arrange another date.  Incidentally John will undergo a second cataract operation in September and I am sure you will join with me in wishing him well.

The Guild Management Committee with the Clerk are preparing for the Shrewsbury Drapers Guild AGM. With restrictions being maintained on the number of people gathering it is Iikely that we shall decide to have the AGM via Zoom. This is not ideal but I believe for our safety it is the optimum we can achieve.

I am very pleased to continue to report that our residents remain safe and well. Painting the exterior of Holy Cross is almost completed and it looks very smart. There have been vacancies at Fairford and Drapers Place since March and these have both been successfully relet after small scale refurbishment works. The gardens at Drapers Place are maturing and the residents are contributing labour and plants to extended borders which are looking beautiful at this time.

Kindest and stay well and safe


Newsletter July 2020

Dear Friends

I find that being grounded does not make the time go any less slowly! Despite the relaxation of Covid rules I am still being cautious but still this month has flown by. I have enjoyed telephone calls Drapers I have contacted. Please do get in touch with me if you would like a chat or an update on items which are of interest to you and I do not cover in the newsletter.

I apologise to Brian for forgetting to attach the photograph he referred to in his piece on the renovation of the Abbey Organ last month. Belatedly I attach the relevant photo and it is does put in to context the huge job it is to bring the magnificent organ back in to use for the next hundred years. For those who completed Nigel Hinton’s Quiz – well done and the answers are below. Please mark yourselves honestly!

I am keeping in touch with the Masters of other guilds with whom we share interests and, in a normal year, social occasions.  I attach an interesting response from the Coventry Drapers. I really do hope that their exciting plans for next year come to fruition. Perhaps the Shrewsbury Drapers can think of some way to mark the reopening of their Hall? Ideas welcomed please. 

During this last month I had cause to go to Fairford Place for a very brief socially distanced visit and I must tell you that the gardens looked an absolute picture. Apparently Eric and Frances while in lock down arranged for an independent market garden to leave seedlings and plants in the community room for purchase by the residents. These were swiftly hoovered up and paid for by the residents and the quality is plain to see, as is the care that the gardeners have taken of the plants in the dry period.

Hugh Devlin, chair of The Drapers Hall Trust, and trustee Gareth Williams visited the Hall to check on the fabric and contents of the building in lockdown. Gareth Williams is curator and educator at Weston Park. You may be interested to see their comments. “Apart from the paintings, there were the long tables and the benches in the hall and on the first floor; and the deed cabinet upstairs. The main purpose of the inspection was to see how the contents appear to be faring during the closure due to lockdown. The good news is that there was no sign of damp or mould on any of the items which Gareth looked at. One caveat is that the picture of Degory is screwed so tight to the wall that it was impossible to see behind it. Clearly the furniture has been the subject of excellent custodianship. Apart from old repairs – which in themselves, of course, chart the history of the pieces, the furniture has been well cared for. We did not, of course, inspect the interior of the deed cabinet since it was locked and it would be good for someone to take a periodic check of its interior to ensure that an internal microclimate has not led to any mould. It may, of course, be that this sort of check is already in hand.”

Mother Peters of St Chads, who was kind enough to agree to be my chaplain for my year as Master, was married at Lichfield Cathedral by Bishop Michael as the lockdown was eased. On behalf of the Drapers I have sent a card wishing her and husband Fabian a long and happy life together. Because of the unusual circumstances we have found ourselves in she has not been asked to perform any duties and nor have I been able to show her round the almshouses which I know is of interest to her.

Please continue to stay safe and stay cheerful. I know that many of you have had the opportunity to see family but some still unable to get that all important hug. Virtual hugs and blown kisses are much safer than catching this lousy disease.

Finally a message from Robin Gough:

Just a note regarding the golf day at Condover. I am conscious that October the 25th is not that far off so please “Save the Date.”

It is difficult to give full details as the arrangement for catering are still unclear as the Covid issue is still changing but it would be great if you are interested to put the day in your diary and perhaps think of anyone you may care to invite.




June 2020

Dear Friends

We in the Shrewsbury Drapers take pride in friendship and the mutual interest we share in providing Almshouses for those in need. We also take a pride in our long history and the close association with the Drapers Hall Preservation Trust. For the time being our normal calendar of events is forbidden and it will be some time before we can gather again in
Drapers Hall. We have learned to adapt and to use online meetings although this lacks the personal touch but at least it keeps the spirit alive.

In the past month I have written to all of our Almshouse residents wishing them well and, inreturn, have had a few replies. One said that some days were difficult but on those days shesat herself down and counted her blessings. We do have so much to be thankful for inShropshire and I hope that when you have those difficult days you can find solace incounting your blessings.


Shrewsbury Abbey Organ by Brian Newman

Drapers will be pleased to know that work on restoring and completing the very fine WilliaHill organ in the Abbey is now well underway. A small silver lining to this current crisis was that, while the Abbey was closed to worshippers and the general public, it was declared bythe vicar as a place of work for the organ builder, Gary Owens Organ Builders of Hereford,who could get on completely unhindered. The attached photograph shows the organsurrounded on all four sides with scaffolding, which was needed for dismantling the organand for cleaning the casework, which is now gleaming. This is the first major overhaul thatthe instrument has received since it was installed in 1911, although there was some cleaningdone in 1957! Needless to say, the pipes and mechanisms were filthy dirty and thewoodworm infestation was more extensive than originally thought. Believe it or not, it wasback in 2004 that the parish asked the diocese for a faculty for this work. It has taken theAbbey this long to raise the £200,000 needed. Some of this has been raised by a number ofconcerts held for the joint benefit of the organ fund and for Shrewsbury Drapers’ projects,most recently the highly enjoyable “Vive La France” concert in the Abbey which benefittedrestoration work at The Holy Cross Hospital alms-houses.

The really good news is that not only will this splendid organ have been completely renewed, with tubular-pneumatics being replaced by electro-pneumatics for the actions,but that we are able to complete the organ to Hill’s 1911 specification. Back then the parish ran short of funds and the organ was never completed, and hasn’t been until this day. We are fortunate to have been able to obtain the missing ranks of pipes and associated wind chests from a redundant organ, also by Hill, in a London church.It is planned to have the project fully complete in time for the wedding of the Abbey’sDirector of Music in early October - always assuming that fully choral weddings will by then be possible of course!

Other News

     Wool War & Wealth, An illustrated History of the Wool Traders of Shrewsbury by Nigel

Hinton will be published in August with 110 pages of text and illustrations. Thesuggested retail price is £12.Nigel is offering the book to Drapers at a special discounted price of £10. No money needs to be sent to Nigel but it would really help him gauge the quantity to have printed in time for the launch, if Drapers and friends send Nigel an email indicating their interest before 6pm on Sunday 5th July 2020.


     Shrewsbury School Scholars Concert has been rescheduled for the 7th February 2021.This normally takes place in October but due covid 19 restrictions has been postponed  Coffee mornings with the Almshouse residents remain suspended for the present time. As soon as it is deemed safe to reinstate I will let you know

     The London Drapers Concert from Drapers Hall on June the 19th was enjoyed by a number of Shrewsbury Drapers. Gaynor and Oliver tell me that the live solo piano recital by Alim Beisembayev was superb and a real treat while we are unable to access live music venues. A glass of wine in hand and a comfy sofa made the performance all the more enjoyable. Alim starts his post graduate studies in September at the Royal College of Music and donations from the performance went to the students’ hardship fund. If you missed the performance and would like to catch up, it is available on Drapers You Tube channel please see the attached invitation which contains the link
 Kw Ma will perform in the next concert solo piano live from Drapers Hall, London on Thursday July 16th. Donations in aid of The Guildhall School of Music, student hardship fund. Details attached

     A reminder that the 2021 Textile Design Competition theme will Rainforest. Good luck with your designs and crafting

     Nigel Hinton has provided a brain teaser of a quiz for your enjoyment.  Answers in the next newsletter

We are taking the first tentative measures in a long and challenging process to find a way of life we find acceptable living with Covid 19. We are not out of the woods so please look after yourselves and your families. Stay healthy, stay safe and stay cheerful.




Newsletter May 2020

Dear Friends

Thank you to all who provided jigsaws to the almshouse residents in lockdown. These have been very well received.

If you look under “events” on the Drapers website you will find photographs of Fairford resident Eric on VE day with the standard of the Royal Airforce Association, one is reproduced below. Eric marked the two minutes silence under the watchful eye of socially distanced Fairford residents.

The Chair of the AMC John Crackett wrote to all residents when the government reviewed restrictions with the variations clearly highlighted.  Please continue to observe the visiting restrictions that the AMC has put in place to safeguard our residents and staff.

At the time of writing the excellent news in that none of our residents have showed any signs of Covid infection. All are coping well with the restrictions. The families of residents are being extremely supportive with shopping and transportation for medical visits etc.

In consultation with the Clerk I have decided that the Trinity Sunday service and supper will be cancelled this year. I am sorry but this is the only reasonable response to Government information on Covid restrictions indicating that church and restaurant openings are to be delayed until much further in to the year.

The Strategy Group continues its work despite the lockdown. Doug, Louise and Robin have had interesting discussions with BASE architects in Shrewsbury and will be in a position to make a presentation to the SDHC board in early summer. It is intended that this will form the basis of a visual presentation to the Autumn AGM of Shrewsbury Drapers Guild. The AGM (Covid allowing) will be at Drapers Place so that the presentation equipment can be used.

Huge Devlin, Chair of the Drapers Hall Preservation Trust, provides the great assurance that the group of Trustees is monitoring the Hall and that this continues on a daily basis.  SDHPT held its AGM and Board Meeting, also using Zoom, on 14th May.

Other than monitoring and maintaining the Hall and keeping in touch with the tenant, a group of us will be discussing a strategy for post lockdown. We have no firm idea when or in what circumstances, or with what restrictions, the business will reopen. So we will be considering various potential management options and the likely financial and other consequences of those.

The 10th Annual General Meeting of Shrewsbury Drapers Holy Cross Ltd was held on Monday 18th May. Over 30 members of SDC joined the historically unique virtual meeting using Zoom. Three votes to conclude the business of the AGM were carried. Below you will read my thanks given at the AGM to those people who made it possible.


The preparation of accounts for SDHC is, in normal times, time consuming for Andy Haselwood. This year because of the furloughing of staff at Whittingham Riddell and additional procedural requirements required by law the task has been more arduous. Throughout Andy has been patient, thorough and kind. On behalf of the members I would like to say a huge thank you to Andy for a job exceedingly well done.

Andy will be retiring as Financial Director next May. We need the help of all members to find a replacement. If you know anyone who might be interested in joining the Shrewsbury Drapers and assisting the board with this vital role please do let me or any board member know.

Gordon Woods has pulled all the company information together for the Board. The report produced is our window to the world. It sets out what we do, how we do it and how we comply with Charities Commission rules. You can see from the size and detail of the report how long it must have taken on top of the day to day running of the board. Gordon has also been responsible for setting up the virtual meetings so we have been able to continue to operate legally and safely and look after the almshouses, employees and volunteers. For this and all the unseen actions on the behalf of the Board and members that Gordon has made in the last year, Thank you.

The prime charitable purpose of SDHC is the provision of almshouses. The board delegates the day to day running to the Almshouse Management Committee chaired by Junior Warden John Crackett. They have faced exceptional challenges by any standard during the first third of 2020 ensuring that our buildings and management processes are working extremely well and kept up to date to reflect what has been a rapidly changing situation. By this means our residents are kept safe and secure. The SDHC board and members appreciate all that has been done by John and all those on the AMC team. Thank you.

To Jan for distributing reports, for work on the proxy voting and minute taking this evening thank you.

To Mary Rose for the legal advice enabling the AGM this evening to take place virtually and for her work on the proxy voting system plus the note taking. Thank you


Both Hugh Devlin and I are indebted to Gordon Woods for all the IT help which he has given us to enable both the Hall and SDHC AGMs to take place remotely.  I would also like to thank Richard Clowes was pulling electronic strings to keep the Hall AGM in order

I wish that you and all your families and friends very best wishes and stay safe.


Covid 19 Newsletter

Dear Friends

I have lost track of day, date and time. The wackiest idea for keeping fit I have heard is playing table tennis solo against a wall and losing! But running after the ball, bending and stretching is great exercise.

Gareth Jenkins tells me he has 900 Facebook friends and would like some more. Daily viewing figures between 1000 - 4000.  For the last 20 days he has uploaded a magic trickwearing a different one of his extravagant shirts. It is fun to watch him. Which will end first -the supply of shirts, supply of magic tricks or the lockdown?

I have found it uplifting to speak with so many of you in the last weeks. Finding out how you and your families are coping with this strange and worrying time has been a privilege. It has been good to share news good and bad, but also to hear some wonderful stories of how people are supporting family and friends. There are a number of Drapers with worries about children who are working on the front line in hospitals in Shropshire and across the country. Please remember them in your prayers or in your kindest thoughts.

David Perrin reports that he is recovering well from the virus and Sally is making slow but sure progress on the respiratory ward in the RSH. She is asking for things to be sent in which is a good sign. I know David would appreciate a phone call or a message.

Drapers Hall Preservation Trust have set up a rota within their trustees to include on their daily constitutional a walk round Drapers Hall to check for any problems. If you are in the vicinity of DH and see something not quite right, such as unsecured or open doors or windows, please give Hugh Devlin a ring. {07818 456531)

At the time of writing none of our residents has shown symptoms of the virus. Frances and Katie keep in touch with the residents who remain secure and currently without the need for our new 'phone a friend' or shopping volunteer support.

John Crackett and his team on the Almshouse Management Committee have done an immense amount of work to comply with government guidelines and keep the fabric of the properties safe and the residents and staff content. This is all hard on the heels of theflooding and the same volunteers have come forward to support the work of the AMC. A huge thank you to you all.

The Charities Committee has suspended all fund raising events until September. With enormous regret the Textile Design Competition and Exhibition 2020 has been cancelled.

You will have received information from Company Secretary Gordon Woods on how the AGM of Shrewsbury Drapers Holy Cross Ltd is to take place. Shortly you will be receiving the reports and accounts please send any questions to Jan in plenty of time so we can answer your queries fully.  I look forward to seeing you on the 18th of May via Zoom.

Keep safe



Newsletter April 2020

Dear Friends

Charter Night turned out to be perhaps the last normal gathering of Drapers for the foreseeable future. I felt hugely privileged to become your Master and was extremely grateful to Tom and Mary for their unstinting work on behalf of the Shrewsbury Drapers both locally and nationally. It was a most enjoyable and relaxed evening with little comprehension of what was about to happen. Even then, aware of the virus, the loving cup ceremony was celebrated without drinking but with a lot of hilarity, many trying to work out how to make it work.

As Covid-19 has progressed there have been a number of Drapers’ families who have been affected by it with different levels of seriousness. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been laid low by the virus. Please continue to let me know if there are problems so we can offer help and support during this time of health and economic uncertainty. These are unprecedented times for all of us and kindness and compassion will be needed in our communities. Our residents have observed the government instructions and remain virus free at the time of writing.

After a memorable evening I walked back home, crossing the English bridge the water flowing swiftly and darkly below but, thankfully, now within its normal banks, I thought this was the first time in many months that the paths had been dry and mud free. And yet another flood warning was issued on the 9th of March with a peak identified for the 11th March. Thankfully, although the wardens were again on high alert, the almshouses were unaffected. I was grateful to receive the final flood report from the Almshouse Management Committee and know that our policy for such events worked but lessons have been learned and it will be updated and lodged on TRM for future use. TRM is our management recording software tool that Shrewsbury Drapers Holy Cross Ltd has adopted to lodge a wide variety of documents and information. These include board papers including articles of association, memorandum, board papers and reports, policies, maintenance schedules and reminders, insurances, accounts etc. 

Huge Devlin, Chairman of the Drapers Hall Preservation Trust, invited me to attend an ordinary meeting just before the shutters came down. I was interested to observe the depth of knowledge of the historic building and how it was cared for by the members.  The economic impact of Covid -19 was beginning to being felt by the restaurant management and the Trust discussed how in future they may be called upon to support the business to ensure that it survives.  Under discussion also was the wonderful historic lead cistern. This will be emptied and refilled with an insert to retain the compost and reduce the load imposed on its side walls and new plants to set off the Drapers Coat of Arms.

Cancellation of events that I expected to attend or participate in accelerated during the second and third weeks of March. The diary swiftly became blank except for telephone conference meetings, hastily arranged and a new experience for many but all in all successful. After a week of lock down and in the knowledge that socialising and meetings are going to be banned for a long time the Drapers Guild and SDHC Ltd began to look at the essentials of what had to be maintained and a number of decisions were taken and recorded to reflect the new operating environment. It is intended that the SDHC AGM will be on the 18th May as planned but the format will be different. The Company Secretary will be in touch shortly with further details. The Guild Management Committee may take the decision to postpone its AGM until the autumn. Please watch your emails for information.

I encourage you all to think to the future. Society will survive although it might undergo some fundamental changes. Whatever happens the companionship of the Drapers and our charitable aims will continue on for many years to come.

Keep safe.   Christine




Vacancies in our Almshouses occur from time to time.If you would like to register your interest please complete our Application Form and we will contact you. Details of the accomodation are on this website - look under Almshouses and  Drapers Place