Remembering Bryan Sheppard

Bryan died on 29 March 2020 aged 67 and because of the pandemic his many friends were unable to attend the funeral. To compensate for there being no Wake at the time, his widow Gail organised a Memorial Gathering in Adderbury on Sunday 27 April 2021 to give people an opportunity to remember him in his home village. She intended this to be fairly informal, starting at the Lucy Plackett playing field with a lunchtime picnic. Those present were able to catch up with people who many of us won’t have seen for over a year.

Memories of Bryan were shared, and labels to write these on were distributed. In the afternoon everyone moved on to Colin Butler Green, for some words from Gail, Jack and Polly by the tree planted there last year dedicated to Bryan. There Gail paid tribute to her late husband, followed by moving recollections of their father from Polly and Jack. These short eulogies gave those of us who only knew Bryan through Morris an insight into how valued he was in his domestic life. Polly spoke of his insistence on good manners and giving people due respect. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one listening who found this at odds with his Morris Fool antics! Jack gave a very heartfelt picture of his relationship with his Dad in a poem he had composed for the occasion. Other memories were then provided by friends involving happy times of holidays together. The many memory labels were then tied to the Handkerchief Tree giving the impression of white blossom. We all toasted Bryan’s memory with flutes of Prosecco then gathered around the tree to read the tributes penned on the white labels.

Jack Sheppard reading his poem about Bryan, watched by Polly and Gail

The Adderbury Village Morris Men present then danced in honour of our founder. It was also good to see Ian Harris there representing the other side that Bryan helped bring into being, Sunrising Morris. Although only two of our men were in kit, we had enough in civvies to make up a side of six. The first dance was as traditional, Sweet Jenny Jones led by Dave Reed in kit with five in civvies – Raf Oya, Troy Daniels, David Davies, Chris Holmes and Chris Garrett with Jim Plester on fiddle. It felt so good to dance Bryan’s researched tradition in Manor Road outside Janet Blunt’s house again. Mark French was also present and it was wonderful to be together as a Side. Well done to David Davies, not seen since 2019 Day of Dance & Hornton May Day, who travelled all the way from Llandrindod Wells with his wife Jacky. For Shepherd’s Hey our Squire, the only other man kitted up, John Ekers took over calling duties, allowing Dorset to blow his harmonica alongside Jim in the Musicians’ Gallery.

AVMM dancing in memory of Bryan Sheppard

Our sincere thanks to Gail, Jack and Polly for a memorable day. Bryan is naturally buried in Adderbury Cemetery in Horn Hill Road. The grave is at the far right at the top if you wish to visit and see the newly installed headstone.

“Dorset” Dave Reed