Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Baker Beverley Rises to Fresh Challenge of Writing Books

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Baker Beverley Rises to Fresh Challenge of Writing Books

Article excerpt


BAKER Beverley Pilcher turns off her oven to talk about her spiritual pilgrimage along the River Wear. Which is apt, since Beverley has been balancing her business of baking for the market and shops in her home town of Barnard Castle, with writing books.

Although the River Tees is on her doorstep in the County Durham market town, she chose the River Wear as the subject of her latest effort.

Rivers have always been a magnet for people from the earliest days as a source of water food and transport.

Now, rivers can mean different things to different people, from the angler to the walker.

Or, as in the case of retired water engineer Keith Cockerill, who in 2005 wrote a book on more than 70 bridges or their remains on the River Wear. For Beverley, the attraction was the river's history of sites linked with spirituality and faith.

Last night, her book The River Wear from Source to Sea: An Historical and Spiritual Reflection, was launched at Sunderland Minster.

Formerly the Church of St Michael & All Angels, it was renamed in 1998 in recognition of Sunderland's city status in what was claimed to be the first Minster to be created since the Reformation.

Retired Minster priest James Francis says: "The River Wear is smaller than the Tyne and the Tees but arguably it has as much, if not more, history along its length, woven into the significances and evidence of faith and life and work that have left their varied marks along its banks."

Beverly, 45, began her journey above Killhope on Weardale, where a stone cross marks the boundary between Cumbria and County Durham.

She says: "Looking down the Wear Valley, there is an awareness of the presence of long-gone communities. This whole area would have been a bustling work place for many hundreds of lead miners and their families." These mining communities were steadfastly Methodist and their chapels are features of the landscape.

"Music and singing played a significant role in the life and worship of every Methodist community," says Beverley.

"The hymns were vehicles of hope for many people who were living such hard lives.

"Each chapel had its choir and choral groups would give regular concerts.

These musical evenings ended in a communal supper of sandwiches and homemade cakes.

"The tradition of baking has always played an important role in the lives of the Dales people and the practice of having a concert followed by a homemade supper still continues in Weardale and Teesdale, where there is still a strong tradition of baking."

As well as upholding the bakery tradition herself, Beverley does the same music-wise.

She plays the piano, sings in the choir of St Mary's Church in Barnard Castle, and for 12 years conducted the male voice choir at Middleton-in-Teesdale. …

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