Farmer and tireless community worker dies, aged 79

Date: Monday 8th April 2019

TRIBUTES have been paid to “caring, compassionate and community focused” Great Strickland farmer Mary Isobel Burne, who has died aged 79.

Mary died at Eden Valley Hospice in mid-March a little more than a month after being diagnosed with cancer.

She was well known for tirelessly helping with a range of activities in the local area, being a key individual in the creation and running of the Great Strickland flower show and secretary of the village hall committee for many years.

This was alongside running the family farm at Street House with firstly her late husband Billy and then son Thomas.

Born at home, she was the eldest of five children to farmers Thomas and Annie Powley, of New Mill Flatt, Newby, and attended Sleagill Primary School before passing the 11-plus to go to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Penrith.

Working on the family farm after leaving school, alongside being an active member of Lyvennet young farmers club, she met her future husband Billy Burne, of Howgate House, Cliburn.

Despite growing up just a few miles apart, they did not meet until attending a dance in the late 1950s and got married at St Lawrence’s Church, Morland, in 1962.

After a short honeymoon in Cheshire, the newlyweds briefly lived at Rock Cottage, Cliburn, before taking the tenancy at Street House in November the same year, where she resided for the rest of her life.

The couple, who had three children, ran a mixed farm with dairy cattle and sheep.

Mary still managed to find time to get involved with a number of things locally, never shirking from hard work.

She was an active member of the local ladies club, helped with the village breakfast and held successful fundraising events at Field Head.

While Billy was a churchwarden of St Barnabas’s in Great Strickland, she was an active member of the Parochial Church Council and a regular fundraiser for the local Conservative Club, hosting wine and cheese evenings at both Morland and Askham.

Outside of the village, she was a supporter of Penrith show, being an industrial committee member for a number of years. In her spare time she loved gardening.

Billy was a keen competitor as part of the Eden Valley Pony and Trotting Association in the 1950s and the children grew up helping look after his favourite, Silver Sand.

After Billy’s death in 1995, Mary continued farming with son Thomas and took on the role of churchwarden at St Barnabas until the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001. The farm was one of only a few in the area not hit by the disease.

In later years she played a significant role in helping daughter Kathleen set up and run her successful bakery and catering business Applegarth Foods. She remained very active until last year.

Mrs Burne is survived by son Thomas, daughters Christine Turnbull and Kathleen Twentyman, and five grandchildren, Jonathan, Edward, Jackson, Lucinda and Victoria.