I drove to Crawley on Friday to attend the Funeral of Barry Plant, a friend, fellow polelathe turner and green wood worker. Barry died suddenly and unexpectedly a few weeks after leaving work and just as he was launching himself into a host of craft projects he’d been looking forward to working on.
I drove by the back roads and took a break along the way to absorb the peace and quiet of a lovely bluebell wood.
I first met Barry at the Polelathe turners AGM 2005 (aka the bodgers ball) at Kingston Lacy in Dorset. It was my first time and Barry went out of his way to welcome me into the fold and to the Sussex group of polelathe turners with his boundless enthusiasm, generousity and curiousity.
Barry was a competent turner but at shows was always happiest at the back of the stand, carving or whittling away in his chair whilst encouraging others to use his lathe and to steal the limelight (such as there may be). Whatever the task, Barry probably had a tool that would help, or a book about it. In a typically generous act at one show Barry introduced me to Herbert Edlin’s eponymous book ‘Woodland Crafts in Britain’ by donating me a spare copy.
Barry’s sense of humour was always present with a quip and a smile for all occasions. At last years Bodgers Ball in Oxfordshire he mucked in as a part of the Sussex group’s cobbled together team of would be chair makers.
Typically Barry took on the task of completing the chair after the event and had almost done it by the time he died. For me, Barry will still be there at the back of the shelter at shows in his rightful place.
On the way home I stopped again at the bluebell wood for a few minutes quiet contemplation.