Cecily Eastwood In Memoriam: twenty years

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By Ruth Whiting, former Bedales Head of History (1963-2000)

Cecily was the third of the four daughters of Basil and Alison Eastwood, all of whom attended Bedales.  Lively, enthusiastic, multi-talented and fiercely intelligent Cecily put 110% into everything she did and saw no reason why there should be any limit to what she, and others, could achieve.  Acting, directing, singing in the choir and playing the flute in the orchestra absorbed much of the time Cecily didn’t need for academic work and she was one of the chief motivators of the early “energy saving and greening of Bedales” campaign.

DSC_0032 (Large)With a place at Newnham College, Cambridge to read Modern languages secured for September 1997, after leaving Bedales Cecily earned money working in The Bear and Ragged Staff in Woodstock and Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford before departing to work in Lechwe School, Kitwe in Zambia’s Copper Belt.  Very soon she was also volunteering to work with children who had lost one or both parents to AIDS, running a homework club which also included music and development of language.  Tragically on 2 June she was killed in a road accident on her way to join a school Geography expedition to Lake Tanganyika.

At the beginning of the autumn term of 1997, Bedalians began work creating ‘Cecily’s Garden’.  Whilst working in the Bonham’s Barn bake-house Cecily had confided in Peter Coates how much she would like a garden nearby for reading and quiet contemplation.  The original garden was surrounded by a willow fence with an arch at the entrance, planted with camellias by the barn, herbs, roses and in the spring filled with daffodils encircling the existing tree and with a semi-circular bench created by Alison Crowther.  Over the years the garden has been expanded, contracted, encroached upon by the new pizza oven and hemmed in by the new staff houses, gradually falling into decay.

DSC_0034 (Large)This academic year Jonny Smart (Block 5) chose to work on renovating the garden for his ODW BAC project, guided by David Anson.  David explains, “The aim is to create a cottage garden that makes use of the wild-flower nature of it. The path through it is to encourage the sense of contemplation.”  Two medlar trees, donated by Philip Parsons, have been planted and after half term additional plants will provide the summer colour.  One of the gorgeously scented roses has survived from the original planting.  In Spring the daffodils and camellias still flourish.

After a visit to Zambia in 1998 Cecily’s parents established a charity to support AIDS’ orphans through primary education, providing uniforms, shoes, books and where necessary fees.  Over the years this has extended to secondary and then higher education and also work in training for leadership and developing health education.  As Cecily’s father Basil Eastwood wrote in the latest edition of Cecily’s Fund Newsletter, “the charity has helped over 20,000 Zambian children to complete their education”.  Find out more about Cecily’s Fund: www.cecilysfund.org


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