The Dent Memorial Hall looked very inviting set up for a Jacob’s Join supper, and was soon well filled for our Open August meeting. Just a few business details to get through before our speaker though.

Thelma reported on last months outing, the venue having been changed at the last minute to a visit to Halecat Nursery preceded by lunch at the Derby Arms in Witherslack. It had been a beautiful sunny day and members enjoyed browsing among the plants for sale. So, lunch and a garden was a winning combination.

Events are now on the Agenda for October – oh dear – Autumn on the way! We were asked to think about the ACM on 18th October at Castle Green Hotel to hear the Federation Chair and Treasurer give their reports on the year. Antiques expert Tracy Martin will be talking in the afternoon. Earlier in the month on 10th October, Dent is hosting a federation painting day from the home of Freda Meakin. If you have always wanted to get out those long forgotten paint boxes this will be the moment!

It was time for Catherine to introduce Alison O’Neill our speaker for the evening. Most of us had heard of Alison, but here she was giving us the story of her life. Full of incidents, candour, humour and very entertaining. She spoke for well over an hour.

Returning to the Howgills to live after trying the wider world, she was determined to fulfil her childhood dream of working a farm and being a shepherdess. The early experiences of farm life were an extreme learning curve, but one that she embraced wholeheartedly. In some ways, her teachers were the animals she says especially her sheep Rosie. You could see one or two farmer’s wives in the audience nodding in agreement at some of the stories. Alison says money was tight, but her quote is: Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy sheep which is pretty much the same thing. She now has a wonderful herd of sheep.

Walking with her sheep in the glorious Howgills, Alison decided she would like to offer B and B and lead groups to discover the charms of the area and became a fully qualified guide. She is still leading groups, but since then she has been asked to lead walks in other parts of the country including the Hebrides. This has since led to a love for Harris Tweed and she is now usually photographed wearing the tweed fashioned to one of her own designs.

Visits from TV personalities, interviews, designing and writing, are all a natural progression to her life on the farm. She still seems full of ideas. This is jut a brief synopsis of her talk and if you see another evening with Alison O’Neill advertised – do go along. It shows just what she has done in her life so far with determination, energy, vigour and plenty of enthusiasm. It was amazingly inspirational.

Next month, Aiden Monks from Loving Artisan Bakery will be talking us. Visitors and new members most welcome.

PatAllen

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