A STALWART of village life and charity work, Mrs Belinda Evans, was the great,great, great grand-daughter of the aviation pioneer, Sir George Cayley, and one of the famous seven daughters of Sir Kenelm and Lady Cayley of Brompton-by-Sawdon near Scarborough.
Born in 1940, she was the fourth of the daughters and grew up in the village which for generations was owned by the family estate. After attending Hillside School in Scarborough and later Queen Ethelburgas College, Boroughbridge, she studied at a secretarial college in London, worked at the Medici Galleries then joined the East African Tourist Office in Trafalgar Square.
While living in London with one of her sisters, Virginia, now Lady Storey, she met husband Mark, and the couple married in 1962, and had three children – Nicolas, Amanda and Alex.
Mrs Evans’ many interests included the Riding for the Disabled charity with which she was involved for some 20 years, working from the Knightsbridge Barracks in London. She also played a key part in the Distressed Gentlefolks Association, now known as Elizabeth Finn Care, a national charity giving direct financial support to individuals in need.
With each person having to be individually assessed, Mrs Evans’ involvement with the charity gathered momentum and she eventually became the national chairman of its committee.
The family returned to Mrs Evans’ childhood home in Brompton, living at The Manor House following the death of Lady Cayley, and she became involved in a catalogue of village activities and organisations, not least the parish church of All Saints, Brompton-by-Sawdon Cricket Club, and took up game shooting after the family bought farmland at nearby Wydale.
She was anxious that the village’s history as the place where the first aircraft was flown thanks to Sir George, the 6th Baronet, and where the poet William Wordsworth was married, should be recognised for future generations.
As a result a major celebration of the aviation pioneer’s success was marked in 2003 with the building and flying of a replica of the original aircraft by Sir Richard Branson, watched by a 3,000 strong crowd in the very valley, Brompton Dale, where Cayley’s coachman had flown it. Then, Mrs Evans was to be involved in the celebration of Wordsworth’s life in a festival which attracted major interest nationally. Her life took on another dimension when she acted as her husband’s consort in 2002-03 when he was High Sheriff of North Yorkshire. One of her pleasures and skills was in entertaining and the dining room of The Manor House had seen many national political and theatre personalities over the years.
Her funeral will be held at All Saints, Brompton-by-Sawdon, on Friday, May 2, at 12 noon.