The Peter Bridge Memorial Bench

On a rather chilly Saturday back in November, we held an event to unveil a new bench situated at the pond – a memorial to Peter Bridge.

For those who didn’t know Peter, he was known as ‘Mr Ashley’ because he was so involved in village life. Very few people are as community spirited as Peter was.

When he sadly passed away, he very generously left funds in his Will to improve or replace the current pavilion – as most of you know, this work is on-going.

Peter was born in Bury St Edmunds and moved to Butcher’s Farm in Ashley as a very young boy, he lived at Butcher’s Farm for the remainder of his life. When he grew up, he decided not to follow in his father's footsteps to work as a butcher but chose to become a metal worker instead. He worked at Anglia Fabrication & Design which was the main reasons we selected them to craft and produce the bench for Peter.

Peter was not only community minded but also incredibly conscientious, he wanted to make a difference to the community he resided in. Firstly he became a Parish Councillor, then he became Chairman of the Council where he served for 48 years, being Chairman for 15 years. He was also elected as a District Councillor from 1974 -2002. Such was the tenacity of the man, it’s on record that Peter attended 42 meetings in a single year!

His dedication to Ashley was not confined to council meetings, he spent much of his time as 'Village Caretaker/ Handyman’; mowing the grass verges, keeping the church and graveyard tidy as well as tending to the Sports ground and mowing the grass around the pond. On most days Peter and his tractor could be found somewhere in the village.

He was actually quite a shy man but occasionally his wicked sense of humour would surface. The Church used to throw a Summer Garden Party, needless to say, Peter was very much involved in the organisation of these parties. On one occasion, not long before his wife Beryl died, Peter was moving the chairs and trestle tables from his barn to Ashley Hall (the venue of the party) using his tractor and trailer. When it came to his final load he was carrying an expected guest – perched precariously on top of a pile of tables in a comfy old armchair, looking like a carnival queen was Beryl having done a regal tour of Ashley en route!

Peter was nominated for a National Honour but sadly he wasn’t lucky enough to be selected. This was terribly disappointing for the many people who supported the nomination – if anyone deserved an honour, Peter certainly did.

For those of you who knew Peter I’m sure you have many of your own anecdotes and for those who didn’t, this short piece probably doesn’t say enough about the man he was.

Thank you to everyone who turned out for the unveiling in November 2023 and to everyone involved in making it a well attended community event that Peter would have been proud of.

Liz Day

On behalf of Ashley Pavilion Trust, using content kindly provided by Olive Oakervee

I hope everyone in the photographs are happy for them to be used on our web page. However, please don’t hesitate to contact APT if you have any concerns.