We pass the same people on the street every day, but what do we know about them? We stopped to take some snapshots of some familiar figures on the streets and behind the scenes of Oundle.
Ben Wilson (21) is in his final year studying theology, mission and ministry, and is a trainee professional youth worker based at St Peter’s Church. Alongside his work at the church, he works with the Baptist Church, and at Prince William School and the primary school. He particularly enjoys engaging with young people on the edge of education through sport. He is engaged to the daughter of Oundle’s Baptist minister, who he has long known from his home in Essex.
Most people going down West Street will have caught sight of Mark Bray (49) taking a break on West Street. Mark was a farmer in Lincolnshire for 25 years. When he met his partner Paul, in Peterborough in 2007, he moved in with him in Oundle, where Paul (70) used to run a fruit and vegetable shop at their home on West Street. In 2013 Paul suffered a debilitating stroke, and Mark is now his full time carer.
Gavin Bywater (77) spent 45 years driving HGVs across Europe and as far away as Turkey, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. He and his wife moved to Oundle six years ago to be close to their daughter. Sadly his wife died a few years later. He’s now most often seen cruising down Glapthorn Road on his mobility scooter at speeds of up to 10 mph. He suffered a stroke five years ago that affected his speech and left his right side nerve damaged, but his long experience as a professional driver helped him adapt to driving with his left hand. The Coffee Tavern is his daily afternoon destination, where he enjoys having coffee amidst the buzz of café life.
Len Johnson (70) started ringing bells at the Stoke Doyle church where they have 5 bells. He learned to ring the 8 bells at Oundle during the Tuesday practices and has been ringing them regularly for weddings and celebrations since he moved to Oundle in 1992. A familiar figure around town, Len served on the council for 12 years and was mayor in 2004. Every week he pulls the Thursday market bell at noon, a tradition that started centuries ago to launch the weekly livestock market that was held on Station Road. The bell ringing is supported by the Feoffees.
Bernard Kay (90) is a successful artist who was popular in the 1960’s London art scene. He studied at the Royal Academy of Art and won a French scholarship which took his career international. He won several prizes, including one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He settled in Oundle in the 80s and is known for his passion for collecting old and interesting things. He makes a daily excursion from North Street to Oxfam on West Street to see what books or collectibles might have been dropped off.
Photos by Judah Stephenson