Hazel Voakes

Hazel  Voakes: A talented embroiderer and lacemaker.
Hazel Voakes: A talented embroiderer and lacemaker.
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HAZEL Voakes, who was a talented embroiderer and lacemaker, and who helped produce the definitive history of Nidderdale, has died aged 79.

There were many parts to her life and she filled every moment from her original career as a nurse, which she knew she wanted to pursue from an early age, to her later work on the family farm all interspersed with her assorted interests.

She was born at Croft House Farm, Killinghall, near Harrogate, the eldest of five children of Harry and Lily Voakes, and the only daughter, but at an early age she moved with family to Crag Hill Farm, Killinghall, which is still farmed by her youngest brother, Ian.

She was educated at Killinghall School and Harrogate Grammar School. When she left in 1950, she went to Bradford Royal Infirmary where she qualified as a State Registered Nurse then becoming a Staff Nurse for a year.

She went to St Helier’s Hospital, Carshalton, to train as a midwife before returning to Yorkshire to work at the Middleton Sanatorium, Ilkley, caring for people with tuberculosis.

But it was there that the hospital career she had always wanted was ended after she developed a strong reaction to the drug Streptomycin, which was standard treatment for TB, and she had to leave.

She returned home and worked part time at a nursing home in Killinghall, as well as helping on the family farm where she became adept at dry stone walling. She was an excellent shepherdess, no doubt finding her skill as a midwife very handy especially at lambing time. She also had a special cough she used so the sheep would recognise her and not be startled.

In her spare time, she was a member of the Embroiderers’ Guild specialising in Ecclesiastical Embroidery and was particularly proud of gaining her City and Guilds qualification.

As a result, she was invited to exhibit her work at St Paul’s Cathedral, an occasion she never forgot not only for the honour but because the day she went to London was that of the Poll Tax riots of 1990 and her hotel in Trafalgar Square caught fire.

She was talented at all types of needlework but specialised in bobbin lace and was a long-standing member of the Brigantes Lacemakers.

Miss Voakes was also a member of Nidderdale Archaeological Society and part of the Pateley Bridge Local History Tutorial Class which, under the editorship of Professor Bernard Jennings, compiled the 526-page A History of Nidderdale. The book was first published in 1957 and remains the definitive history of Nidderdale.

She had a keen interest in Killinghall’s history, and her interesting talks guaranteed the hall would always be full.

She was also a keen grower of chrysanthemums, and for some years she was a member of Ripley Agricultural Show Committee.

When her father died in 1985 she and her mother moved to Boroughbridge where she became a sidesman at St James Church.

Miss Voakes is survived by her brothers Dennis, David, Roy and Ian.