Noel Harley - Community Stalwart
In April 2009, we lost a dear friend in Dr Noel Harley. Along with his wife Pet (right), Noel was a stalwart of community life here in Pilton and was a founder member of the re-incarnation of Pilton Festival. Noel was the inspiration behind many of us who are involved in a broad spectrum of activities today, all of us fueled by his enormous sense of fun and touched by his generosity of spirit. Speaking of spirit, if you keep your eyes peeled, you might just spot Noel’s uproarious Festival tights, dancing in the breeze from a favoured tree! Here he is (far left) appearing in the brilliant Canterbury Tales in the garden of The Chichester Arms in 2004. With him are (left to right) Bev Neighbour, Vinney and Richard Stevens.
Hamish Patrick - Pilton Leading Light
In December 2014 Pilton lost a leading light with the passing of Hamish Patrick. A founding member of Pilton Festival, he was born in London, educated in the USA, trained as an actor and did theatre work and several TV series most notably Crossroads in1978. He moved to North Devon in 1981 and was a huge influence on community events in Pilton. His dream was to turn the tide of fracturing communities when children grew up and left. He rightly believed that a strong community bond would bring them back and 25 years later some of those children are on the Festival Committee. He directed the Green Man Pageant and organised the family-friendly haven of Rotary Gardens. Over the years he adapted, directed and acted in some 20 local pantomimes and, through these, was a staunch supporter of local charities. He also narrated beautifully an evocative video The Myths and Legends of Exmoor in 2003. He got a great send off when several hundred people gathered to mark his last journey down Pilton Street. The Rotary Club of Barnstaple acknowledged his enormous contribution to Pilton life by posthumously making him their Citizen of the Year. He was a much-loved man who will be greatly missed.
For a more complete obituary of Hamish Patrick click on his photograph.
Albert Linacre - Key Pilton Figure
In September 2015 Pilton lost another key figure with the passing of Albert Linacre. Albert spent the last 35 years of a very full life in Pilton, much loved and admired by all who knew him, but the first fifty years were spent elsewhere. Born in Birmingham in 1930, he was at school in Edinburgh in 1940 and, after national service, began a successful career in catering management which included some very prestigious locations around London. He married Maggie in the late 1960s, and they gave up the London life and moved to North Devon in 1977 and bought a shop and house in Pilton Street. This became a wholefood shop and coffee bar run by Maggie, while Albert went to North Devon College to teach the art of catering. In 1982 the first Pilton Festival took place and Albert, closely involved in its organisation, started making costumes. When the first Green Man Day was held in 1995 Albert, with the help of his sewing ladies, made the distinctive costumes which characterise the event to this day. His strength, enthusiasm and skill inspired others and certainly helped Pilton's community activities to prosper while the shops of Pilton Street gradually declined and closed. Without Albert the Festival would not be the wonderful magical spectacle it is today - a fitting way to remember him each year.
For a more complete obituary of Albert Linacre click on his photograph.
Laurie Wedge - the Tall Green Man
Laurie Wedge, the Green Man on stilts who graced Pilton Festival for 15 years, passed away in February 2016, aged 63. Many thousands of people saw and enjoyed Laurie's deep commitment to the Festival.
No-one could miss his giraffe-like walk through the crowd, ten-feet tall dressed in a spectacular plant and flower costume, sprinkling everyone he could with rose petals and offering them a green blessing. "Pilton Festival, and the Green Man persona, was the highlight of his year," said his partner, Teresa Price. "It represented what he believed in. He'd spend a lot of time preparing for it, arranging his costume and collecting the rose petals. He really loved what he did on the day. It was about fertility and abundance."
Laurie came from London where he learned stiltwalking and other circus skills alongside Abi Falkner of South Molton, with whom he had two children, Robin, 15 and Elsa, 9. Abi said: "He really was a very authentic and appropriate choice for the Green Man, as he loved nature, gardening and growing things. His long terraced house garden in London was absolutely bursting with plants, everything from a huge wild cherry tree to small bonsai trees in pots. Every window sill was chockablock with plants he had grown from seeds, lemon plants, passion flowers, pine cuttings and all sorts. "The Green Man was the first costume he put together."
For a more complete obituary of Laurie Wedge click on his photograph.
Dave Butt - Gifted Community Leader
Pilton lost a gifted community leader with the passing of Dave Butt in April 2016. Dave was Assistant Headteacher at Braunton Academy until 2010, a Barnstaple Town and then North Devon District Councillor and Honorary Alderman and a leading player in the Pilton community. He contributed enormously to the world of rugby, was Chairman of Devon RFU, and was closely involved in the 2015 World Cup. He was a huge supporter of the Barnstaple-based charity Amigos Worldwide, and worked as a volunteer for Children’s Hospice South West. Although he had stepped down from formal public duty in recent years, Dave was still very much involved in North Devon Theatres and Museum. Pilton will be a poorer place for his loss. Among his legacies is a stronger Green Man Festival where his ability to bring people together and get things to happen resulted in the growing involvement of the next generation willing to help the community come together. His will be difficult shoes to fill but he surely did much to inspire people to pick up where sadly he has left off.
For a more complete obituary of Dave Butt click on his photograph.