Beckford’s “As It Was” Event, 24th October 2015

Phil Smith had a great idea to present a 1940s film and photos of his vast collection of Beckford as it was and of local families in Beckford Village Hall. Together with Peter White and Jessie Alexander, he was going to tell the village all about the recent history of the village and of some of the families of Beckford.

The event was a sell out. Food had been prepared, Jack from the Beckford Inn was serving drinks from the bar and all was ready, but as people arrived it was evident that Phil had been taken very ill.  He left in an ambulance with his family.

The evening continued with food served up by Beckford WI.  Keith Yates showed the film and photos with Peter and Jessie recounting their memories. Andy Slade connected his laptop and demonstrated to us the history section of ‘The Shieling’ website ( ) which has not only the same film and some of the photos, but also much local historical content. An auction of a framed print of Station Road and the raffle draw, with the first prize of a night’s B & B in Beckford Inn, was conducted by Roger. The evening ended with a nostalgic musical interlude with singers Rebecca Hughes and Roger Nurden, accompanied by Graham Galer and Yo Yates on the recently tuned village hall piano.

Only after locking up did we find out the devastating news that Phil had died that night. Although it was a financial success with nearly £700 raised for village hall funds, it was very much overshadowed by the loss of one of Beckford’s most well-known gentlemen. Phil will be greatly missed by so many people, including the village hall committee who so appreciated his work over many years for the Village Hall.

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