STILL wielding a steady paintbrush at the age of 82, a great-grandmother in Frodsham continues to hone her artistic skill which landed her first job in the top-secret drawing office at a Second World War airbase.
Beryl Bann-Ashley’s love of art has been the cornerstone of her life since she began painting seriously at the age of 11 when she won a scholarship to attend a specialist art college in her hometown of Warrington.
Too young to serve in the 1939-45 conflict, she is proud her talent was utilised in the war effort when, for five years from 1941, she worked at RAF Burtonwood drawing plans for secret modifications to British and American aircraft – and even got to meet former US President Dwight D Eisenhower, the then Supreme Commander of the allied forces in Europe, and US General George S Patton.
She also worked in the architects drawing office at Cheshire County Council for 26 years.
“Art has always been a very important part of my life,” said Beryl, who delighted in teaching her two sons, daughter and eight grandchildren to paint. “I just love it; it’s so relaxing and the colours of nature are always so beautiful.”
Beryl specialises in watercolour landscapes and many of the paintings she has produced capture scenes of Frodsham, where she has lived for 50 years, and she was thrilled when one of her works won a Mid Cheshire College prize.
Beryl packs her paintbox wherever she goes, and last year she enjoyed a memorable Mediterranean cruise on the QE2 and took full advantage of the on-board art classes.
Her love of art has helped Beryl forge friendships, too, particularly with fellow members of Frodsham’s weekly Wednesday art group, which she has attended for many years. The 14-strong group, led by Jeanie McFarlane, meets at Frodsham Community Centre and includes several other octogenarians from other areas.
Beryl’s passion for art does not preclude other interests, however. She is a longstanding member of Frodsham and District Organ Society – which is staging a Christmas concert at Frodsham Art Centre at 7pm on November 26 – and is also the oldest member of the St Laurence’s Parish Church choir, where she has sung for 25 years.