BBC Radio Cambridgeshire broadcasters to pay tribute to Irene Cranwell

A WOMAN who was the pillar of village life in Chrishall is to receive a final tribute later this month.

A WOMAN who was the pillar of life in an Essex village is to receive a final tribute later this month.

Irene Cranwell, who was Britain’s oldest regular broadcaster, died in January just five weeks before 100th birthday.

A memorial service organised by her fellow broadcasters and entitled ‘A celebration of the life of Irene Cranwell 1910-2010’ is being held at Chrishall parish church on September 24 at 1.45pm.

It is being arranged by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s Christopher South and Mandy Morton, and has a harvest theme, said to be “dear to the heart” of Mrs Cranwell who a farmer’s daughter.

Her tales of her childhood, knowledge of local dialect and social history attracted a big fan club to Mr South’s Sunday afternoon radio programme.

Many taking part in the service knew Mrs Cranwell during her 21 year contribution to the programme.

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They include crime novelist Nicola Upson, historian and former director of Cambridge and County Folk Museum Tom Doig, naturist and former Warden of Wandlebury estate Bill Clark and the Rev Robert Van De Weyer.

Mr South will be reading from Oliver Goldsmith and Ms Morton will speak about “Faerie Cottage” , Mrs Cranwell’s 14th century home.

Her daughter Susan Davies and grand daughter Rosemarie Gant will read Mrs Cranwell’s poem, The WI.

Children from Chrishall Primary School, where Mrs Cranwell first taught, will be singing. Another choir taking part is drawn from choristers of the six churches in Icknield Way parish.

Mrs Cranwell, a chorister herself, was a parish councillor and parish clerk for many years. She was the village historian and with her son-in-law, Fred Davies, founded the village museum. She was also the village’s local newspaper correspondent.