It is with sadness we report the death on the 5th May 2023 of Ishbel Beatty, aged 96.

Ishbel lived at ‘The Palace’ in East Hatley for over 40 years until moving to Nottinghamshire with Simon Keith, her beloved partner, in late 2018.

Her funeral was on 25th May 2023 at Memoria Barnby Moor, Ranby, Retford. A month later, on 24th June, her ashes were interred in St Denis’ churchyard in East Hatley.

Ishbel Beatty at the 2018 Hatley Christmas Tea – a special book was given to Simon Keith and Ishbel on behalf of Hatley village to mark 40 years' living here... days before they left to live in Nottinghamshire. Ishbel died on 5th May 2023, aged 96.

Ishbel Beatty, who died on 5th May 2023, aged 96. Click for a photo of her with Simon Keith.

Ishbel will be remembered by many in Hatley and Gamlingay as a poetess and historian – she was one of the original members of the Gamlingay & District History Society when it was founded in 1992, and its chairwoman for several years from 1995.

Ishbel did much meticulous historical research on the local area and several of her articles, originally published in the Gamlingay Gazette, can be found on this website together with some of her poems – type ‘Beatty’ into the search box at the top of the page.

She was by profession a psychiatric social worker – she touched with wisdom and tenderness the lives of many in this country and elsewhere. She was also a £10 ‘pom’ emigrant to Australia, but returned because she missed her English family.

Ishbel was loved and will be dearly missed by the Keith family, her sisters, nephews, nieces and many others whom she quietly supported, as recounted by Reverend Dr Seosamh McGrath, who, at Ishbel’s request, officiated at her funeral – a quiet funeral in the Quaker tradition; until the end of June, the webcast of her funeral service is available: see the link below.

Although born and brought up in London, she became a countrywoman. She loved the fields and woods of this part of Cambridgeshire. This love is recorded by her in very many poems, which will, in due course, be published. This was written in March 1997:

Winter Walk
By Ishbel Beatty

Towards the rising sun I pace,
Light-dazzled, little can I see,
The level vale before me lies,
Mist-veils obscure both hedge and tree.

I turn right-shouldered to the sun
And colour leaps to stain the scene,
The light strikes pale from puddled rain,
Hedge-berries red and grasses green.

The path now hardens underfoot,
Red brick, white chalk, grey stone I tread,
Brown branches fringe the naked field,
Brown earth fills all the view ahead.

I turn again, and breast the rise,
The ditch beside runs straight and neat
The wind behind my back now drives
My steady pace and homeward feet.

This rhythm of my morning walk
Beats in my blood and stirs my mind;
The wind of inspiration breathes,
And leaves this trail of rhymes behind.

Ishbel remembered

Almost 20 years ago Ishbel wrote a carefully crafted piece for this website Perambulation Walk – A walk around the edges of Hatley.

It is nice to record it became the inspiration for this year’s ‘Beating the Bounds‘ walk being held on 11th May.

Created as a news post 23rd May 2023; updated 25th June 2023 and 31st March 2024; re-issued in this website’s page format 2nd April 2024.