A few photos of Alison taken in the Lake District in April 2017 where we stayed for a few days. This was always where Alison wanted to revisit. The first one is outside the cottage in Patterdale where we did field studies in our teacher training student days from 1975-1979. So many happy memories.
Alison was a dear friend for twenty years. I was inspired by her strength and her enthusiasm. Her vision and persistence against all the odds brought about an impressive exhibition of my American former partner's paintings alongside works of Henry Moore, with a story about the connection. This led to much-needed further funding for Queen's Mill.
Alison and I often reminisced about a close friend and mentor of mine, Eva Arundel. She was the deputy head of Airedale Secondary Modern School when I taught there in the early'60s and had attended Castleford Secondary School not long after Henry Moore. Alison had not passed the notorious 11+ exam but Miss Arundel, as she was universally known, spotted her ability and encouraged her with homework to try the retake. Soon Alison was herself at Castleford High....the rest is history. She will be sorely missed.
Alison was and is a source of eternal inspiration.   Meeting her a couple of years ago was testament to my belief that we must have compassion and strive towards universal horizontality in our diverse existence.
This is very sad... Alison made an impact on me as I found her a really authentic, full of enthusiasm and an inspiring person.
She will be sorely missed. I'd be very grateful if you could convey mine and the Chilean community's sincere condolences to her family, colleagues and friends.
Alison was a beautiful person, so generous with her ideas, her passions and her time. I only wish I could have known her even better. I just feel honoured to have met her, and to have helped with Larry to generate a record of her voice and life. Much love to you and all around Alison at this time.
On Friday 8th August 2014 our Chair, Alison Drake MBE, was invited by Network Rail and the Henry Moore Foundation to the unveiling of the first piece of public art to be exhibited at King’s Cross Square, the new public square in front of the redeveloped King’s Cross station. The Spindle Piece has been loaned to Network Rail to display at King’s Cross, serving as a gateway to the Henry Moore Foundation in Hertfordshire and the Henry Moore Institute in Yorkshire, both of which are accessible by train from King’s Cross station.
Also attending the ceremony on behalf of Castleford Heritage Trust were Renato Benedetti and Ketan Lad of architects McDowell+Benedetti who have developed the plans for the future shape of Queen's Mill. Alison was introduced to sculptor Sir Anthony Gormley, who was interested in our plans to tell the story of Castleford’s most famous son, Henry Moore. He commented "As the birthplace of Henry Moore, Castleford offers a unique location from which to explore the early life of Moore, his personal development from child to adult and how these early years influenced the internationally significant artist that he became."
After the ceremony Sir Anthony Gormley introduced Alison to Richard Calvocoressi, Director of the Henry Moore Foundation, who was very supportive of the project to convert the Queen’s Mill into an Arts and Heritage destination.
Alison said "It was wonderful to attend the event at King’s Cross and meet the trustees and Director of the Henry Moore Foundation. This was a perfect opportunity to inform them about our project. They were very supportive and some want us to arrange for them to come to Castleford to find out more about Queen’s Mill and Henry Moore’s birthplace. I also enjoyed meeting sculptor Antony Gormley who was very interested in our plans for a sculpture gallery in Castleford. Antony already has pieces on display in Castleford so it would be great to think he might add to our town’s sculpture experience."
Pictured at the unveiling from left are; Renato Benedetti, Sir Anthony Gormley and Alison Drake MBE.
On Thursday 18th September 2014 we were honoured to host a visit by HRH The Duke of Gloucester, who met volunteers, trustees, artists, businesses and pupils from local primary and secondary schools. His Highness toured the mill, meeting our architects and Chair, who presented the mill's vision and redevelopment plans for the future. After the Mill tour The Duke, who read architecture at Magdalene College Cambridge, was shown Castleford footbridge by Renato Benedetti who designed the structure. Among the guests were representatives from Goverment agencies, national companies and local businesses.
The Duke also unveiled the Civic Trust's blue plaque for the mill and enjoyed a lunch of local produce before his next engagement. One of the highlights of the royal visit was a tremendous singing performance by pupils from our local primary schools who gave a rendition of Castleford Our Heritage which had been specially written for the occasion. Afterwards David Hookham who conducted the performance was approached by the Chief Executive of Castleford Tigers who asked if the children could sing the Heritage Song on the pitch before the next Tigers game.
One of the visitors to our 2015 September open day, Denise Rowlinson, sent us this picture of trustees Alison Drake and Dave Wilders joining in with the Roman theme and showing off some of the artefacts.
On Friday the 16th of September 2016 repesentatives from charities magazine Give Local were given a guided tour of the Mill by Trust volunteer Rod Rayner. The party visited on the same day The Canal and River Trust completed the installation of the stop logs which need to be in place before the water wheel can be restored. The picture on the left shows the party along with Chair Alison Drake watching as three one ton weights which keep the stop logs in place are secured to the structure. A short video showing the stop logs going into place can be seen by clicking here.
On Thursday May 11th 2017 we had a special visitor to the Mill, Laura Quinn. Laura is a Live Well Advisor – part of the new Live Well Wakefield service. Live Well advisors promote health and wellbeing in adults 18+ in the Wakefield District, by offering a referral based service. Advisors are able to meet with clients within their home or community setting, and discuss with them options available to support with maintaining their health and wellbeing.
Our Chair, Alison Drake, had arranged for Laura to visit us to see what opportunities the Mill could offer. Laura was given a tour by one of our volunteers John Parker, during which Laura saw the work the volunteers had completed, including the community kitchen, the amenity block and Island Gallery on the ground flour. On the second floor she met some of the volunteers and saw the ongoing museum project taking shape, following on from this she was shown a video of the milling process by Dave our miller. Back to the ground floor Laura met the TEC team who are restoring the water wheel and it was here where she was given a glimpse of the interior of the wheel, a sight few people have seen. At the end of the tour Laura was presented with a copy of our recipe book Castleford Born & Bread and a sample of our flour.
On the afternoon of Thursday 1st June 2017 internationally celebrated Colombian artist, Oscar Murillo, visiting Queen's Mill was 'blown away' by the work on the mill and the waterwheel and suggested ways of supporting the project. We were working on developing Oscar's Frequencies project in Castleford with local schools. This was a great opportunity and a real honour for our town, his huge success on the international arts scene at a young age is really impressive. We're looking forward to seeing you on a return visit Oscar.