John Light mourns the passing of some Cotswolds characters

THE underlying theme of this column is the richness, joy and vitality of Cotswold life – a very rich seam to mine, but there have been some recent setbacks.

The first thing I read on Wednesday in the Lighthouse is Gerb Gerbrands' market news. This mouth-watering column is the basis for our weekly shopping plans.

This week Gerb broke the news of the death of Keith Willigale of Bow-in-the Cloud vineyard. For many of us this is the first time we knew his full name, and he will never now know ours, but so many of us knew him, anonymous perhaps but certainly as a friend.

To visit his market stall was an experience that brought with it wisdom and wonder. You could learn taste and perhaps even purchase. Keith had time for everyone. So many of us will miss him.

The morning got worse. In the Family Notice section was the announcement of the death of Les Day. I encountered Les every home Forest Green game in his seat at the back of the East Stand, just across the gangway from the Press Box.

He was a true and loyal Rovers fan. He had not, and never would be, seduced by the mercenary-based teams from the metropolis who invade out TV screens playing distant and irrelevant foreign competitions.

Les was first and foremost Forest Green. He had his own opinions and was never afraid to voice them. I doubt if any referees were on his Christmas card list.

When matters were tough at the New Lawn, Les would put his hand in his pocket. He knew what a supporter meant. Les – you will be missed, your voice especially, but most of all your un-swathing loyalty to you beloved club.

A packed Poulton Church was a proper tribute to the life of Brenda Hibberd. There were two places you could find Brenda, behind a crib board at the Talbot Inn in Cirencester or working for undertaker Tim Slade taking names of attendees at funerals.

Her warm comforting manner made her ideal for such a role. Like wine grower Keith few would know her name but many would know and respect this kind loving lady.

God has given us a wonderful area to live in. The land from the Severn to the Thames being a fine example of his handiwork, but the strength of this region is what it has always been, that is the strength, character, resilience and warm nature of its inhabitants.

We have many physical land marks from the Severn to Ha’penny Bridge at Lechlade, but all of us need personal landmarks as well. They give our lives shape and substance. They demonstrate values and humanity. I have just lost three of mine.

PS. At Poulton Church I saw for the first time the stained glass window created in the memory of Jim Nunn. Truly a man for all village seasons. Jim no longer rides his tractor, but the memory of this is preserved in the church window. It is a true tribute.