A Cumbrian family, long associated with farming in the region, has lost its senior figure with the death of Mary Woof, recently of Croft Avenue Care Home, Penrith, and formerly of Winter Tarn, Newby, and Orchard Hill, Sleagill.
Born in 1925 in Crosby Ravensworth, she was the fifth child of James and Agnes Kindleysides, and grew up on the family farm at Wickerslack, Shap.
After attending Crosby Ravensworth School, Mary gained a place at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Penrith, starting there at age 10.
Despite shortened school days due to the Second World War, Mary gained her School Certificate and stayed on for a year in sixth form.
Post-war, financial circumstances meant that she was unable to continue her own education and after school she worked on the family farm. However, she remained a firm advocate for the value of education.
She was a very keen tennis player, competing for the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School team in inter-school matches and also enjoying village matches.
Before marriage, Mary was a member of Lyvennet Young Farmers Club, where she was part of a successful team in public speaking competitions.
She married Thomas (Tommy) Woof, son of Harry and Nellie Woof, in 1952 and joined him at Winter Tarn where they farmed together until her husband’s death in 1995.
They became specialists in pedigree Friesian cattle, with Mary playing a key role in maintaining the necessary records and documentation.
Mary stayed at Winter Tarn until 1996, continuing the family farm with her sons, prior to moving to Orchard Hill, Sleagill.
She was an active member of the Women’s Institute, serving as treasurer and for many years as president of the local Reagill and Sleagill branch, which helped maintain a strong sense of community for women in the locality.
On occasion, she represented local branches as a delegate to the National Federation of Women’s Institutes annual meeting in London. Mary was also a longstanding member of Crosby Ravensworth Mothers’ Union.
A key focus of Mary’s life was her family and she was immensely proud of her five children, 13 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
Sons James and Robert continued in partnership at Winter Tarn for some years, prior to taking up new jobs in haulage, and now live near Brampton and Sockbridge respectively.
Their farming activity is maintained on land near Newby, which they maintain together with their brother Alan.
He established and ran his own farm at Great Strickland until recent years, and now works for a rural construction firm.
Her daughters, Jennifer and Margaret, both studied at university, supported to do this by their mother’s belief in education.
Jennifer is a professor and associate dean at the University of Dundee, while Margaret lives on her family’s arable farm near Boroughbridge and runs a recruitment company specialising in agriculture.
Mary was delighted to see her grandchildren either continuing in farming-related jobs or going to university to study for and gain degrees, which have equipped them to work in a wide variety of occupations including public health, human resources, law, agricultural consultancy, district nursing, medicine, asset engineering, environmental consultancy, and graphic design.