Digglum Bestiaruim ~ The Digglers' Crest

The Digglers

The Digglers' legacy section tells you about the different long term plans I have had for Diggle, and how these subsequently altered due to changing situations within my life. It outlines the long term goal for Diggle, which is for it to be a place where the environment and animals are looked after.

Plan one

When I purchased the land in 1982, I was in my early thirties. When you are that age and full of enthusiasm with all your faculties intact, old age seems a very distant future. Once I saw the completed stable block, it was my intention that I would some time in the future apply for conversion and bliss lovely bliss, spend the rest of my life in the country and amongst my beloved animals.

No, so what changed? At the time, I lived with my elderly parents. My father died in 1983, I'm so glad that he managed to see the five acres. When he died my mother became very dependant on me and also financially. The chances of me leaving, was extremely unlikely. Also at my age the reality of being elderly myself and all the problems it brought with it seemed in the far distance. However, the plan was to move when anything happened to my mother. The dream of entering into the Good Life sustained me through that period. It was in fact just like that TV series. There is no mains water. As described in my study of the Diggle Valley, we were on spring water. No electricity at least not for me. The hamlet across the road has overhead cables but the electric company said it was impossible for me to be connected as I was much lower in elevation and the cables would be too low for the traffic to negotiate. No main waste disposal. I do have plans passed for a septic tank but it was never installed. Until recently, it was not on a bus route but we have now got the Huddersfield/Oldham service and conveniently it stops outside my gate. There is a village post office/grocer but that is it. So what changed my plan one? Well, I am now quite older and saw how well my mother coped at home and the house has been adapted for an elderly person. If I get to the stage when I can't drive, problems, problems, problems! I saw how upset my mother was when she had to sell her car and give up driving due to ill health. Also my big plan for stage two would not come into fruition if I lived at Diggs (also known as the Digglers' home).

Plan two

I want to achieve something worthwhile that would improve and help the environment and animals proving that my life had some meaning and would go on after my death. I know that my five acres or two hectares according to Defra is only a small pin prick but to improve and make it an everlasting sanctuary is my idea of achievement. I have already started to plant trees but they all have a story and a meaning. I have already described how I started riding at Sunfield Farm Riding School (see the history of me and the Digglers) and that the owner Miss Buckley moved to Holmfirth. I regularly visited and she had a tiny wood of oak trees on her sixteen acres don't ask me how many hectares that is! On one visit she let me have three oak saplings which are now well established with me. Two sycamore saplings were given to me by another friend. My mother planted some conifers and another friend gave me two rowan trees. The holly bush at the bottom of the drive came from the one on the front lawn where I live. Various bushes and shrubs all have memories, but wait for this one! Each year, I meet my brother and sister in law, Pat and Michael at Warners, Thorsby Hall. It is near Clumber Park and Sherwood Forest. We go at least three times during the year. Eighteen months ago, I collected some acorns from Thorsby and Clumber Park which I planted. Imagine my delight when the following spring they sprouted. Yes, you've guessed it, they will join the Digglers! My aim is to plant trees around the perimeter. We went on a visit this October 2007, and I wanted to collect some more acorns along with some sycamore seeds as they grow very well up at Diggs. Imagine my despair and disbelief when I searched the grounds of both Thorsby and Clumber Park and there was nowt. There were plenty of beech nuts and sycamore seeds but no acorns. What was going on? Where the squirrels hoarding all the acorns? I found the answer when we went to visit Sherwood Forest, surely there must be some there. No, it just the same. We wandered round the forest and eventually came to the Giant Oak. I couldn't believe when I saw that the forest rangers had opened the area under the great oak for people to collect saplings. Apparently, they do this once a year. They encourage visitors to collect the saplings and put them in the pots they provide. Take them home and bring them back in two years time, providing of course they grow, to replenish the forest. You leave your name and address so that they can contact you. Proudly clutching six saplings, I have taken them home to nurture. However, if they grow I shall keep one for Diggs. It will have pride of place in the middle of my field and have a plaque to say that it came from the Giant Oak at Sherwood Forest. Please don't tell the Forest Rangers that with a bit of luck one sapling will be missing! I digress, along with plan two.

As explained, my desire is to leave Diggs to continue looking after animals and caring for the environment after my death. I consulted with a solicitor as I wanted to leave all my monies in a trust. I was informed that a trust can only operate for eighty years. It must then be left to a beneficiary or it will be claimed by the government! I can not visualise twelve sheep an assortment of cats arriving at Downing Street, therefore another option was needed. A charity was suggested. Indeed, I have founded Veterinary Vouchers Chartable Trust but again this is not an option I would consider. Future Trustees may wish to sell the premises to raise capital. Diggle must therefore be a separate charity and have its own constitution. Marching off to the solicitor this has now been written into my will. My executors will become the Trustees of the new charity. The next burning question, would I have enough funds to fuel the charity for many years to come?

The Legacy

During the nineteen eighties, I became a voluntary speaker on behalf of the RSPCA. The local authority for whom I work considered the environment an important aspect of our society. I was therefore encouraged to arrange with local school to send half a day per week giving talks to pupils regarding these issues. It was at one of these schools that I met a person who was about to change my life.

The Digglers' People ~ Pamela Margaret HallasPamela Margaret Hallas was at the time, deputy head at Denton West End Primary School. She contacted me to give a talk on animal welfare to her class of ten to eleven year olds. I was pleased to say it was very successful and I was asked to give further talks. I was even involved in hatching some chicks at that school! (see Sooty the hen for more details). A firm friendship developed between me and Pam. Like me she had lived with her parents until they had died and had never married. We had education and animals in common and although she was considerably older we became as close as sisters. Over the years we went out for many pub lunches and in the latter stage of her life she still went out for lunch every week. To me, Pam was a tremendous person, for the first time in my life someone had a genuine interest in what I was doing and trying to achieve. When Pam retired, she worked tirelessly in establishing a Tameside Hospice known as Willow Wood. Pam was also a trustee of Veterinary Vouchers Trust and one year we were invited to the BSAVA Congress in Birmingham by the vets to conduct a survey in developing vet vouchers.

Unfortunately, Pam became ill and had to spend several months in a nursing home. For the next two years her quality of life was all right. She could get about, we started going for pub lunches every week and she went back to watching her favourite football team Manchester United, she had a season ticket and had had one since the nineteen forties when she went with her mum and dad. When Pam died, I received a lovely letter of condolence from Sir Alec which I placed on her coffin. I left Pam's seat at Old Trafford empty for one year as a memory to her but on the last match of the season when the club were being presented with the trophy for winning the premiership I went and sat in her seat taking with me a single rose wrapped in United colours and placed on the seat when I left after the match. The people who sat near Pam thought it was a lovely tribute. Everyone in the crowd was excited at winning the trophy and were cheering and clapping throughout the match. I just sat there in tears remembering my wonderful friend and how she would have loved that day.

Pam sadly finally succumbed to her illness and spent her final days in Willow Wood Hospice, the place she had helped to established. I stayed with her day and night and was granted compassionate leave. The matron Barbara who had know for ten years was wonderful and would sit with me whilst I was with Pam. I cannot find the next words to describe how I felt when she died. Part of me died to.

Pam had no family and as I was executor of her will it was left to me to make all the arrangements. I then had another shock; Pam had left me the house and contents. This included many antiques one of which was her beloved cat Tibby (short for Tibby Tabby) who is well in her twenties! Tibby would find it extremely difficult to relocate either at Diggle or at my home as I have four ex-Digglers and Tibby does not like other cats. So, she stays put and I will only sell the house when she dies. I felt awful being left the house as I feel like an intruder. When eventually I went to the solicitor to sign for the deeds, he was astounded as I was in tears. I didn't want it, I just wanted Pam besides I couldn't say thank you.

Pam loved many of her antiques and my priority is that they go to a good home where they will be continued to be looked after. I contacted Cash in the Attic and they expressed interest and someone called Oliver came to film. Norma another Trustee from Veterinary Vouchers was with me. At the time I thought this would be a lovely tribute to Pam but on reflection I have changed my mind due to Pam being a private person. I had decided that I can not spend any of the proceeds on me; therefore it will be used to finance the charity and create the memory garden. That will be a fitting tribute to Pam, something I think she would have approved. Due to Pam's legacy, my ambition for Diggle has come into fruition.

Thank you, Pam. You have left a wonderful legacy that will continue helping animals and preserving the environment. Incidentally, she also left a quarter of a million pounds to Willow Wood Hospice. What a truly remarkable lady as well as a sadly missed friend.