Otley's 'legendary' honorary citizen

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a “legendary” honorary citizen of Otley.

Mavis Bowman, described by the town’s Vicar Reverend Graham Buttanshaw as someone “whose sole purpose in life was to be a blessing to others”, died last week, aged 78.

A former nurse and a committed Christian, Mrs Bowman co-founded the Weston Friendship Club and was instrumental in setting up several other organisations on Otley’s Weston estate, including the Luncheon Club.

Her work with the WRVS saw her help run the ward trolley and tea bar at Wharfedale Hospital for many years, and she was an active member of All Saints Parish Church and Otley Mothers Union.

A statement by her family, including husband Harold, son Chris, daughter April and Mrs Bowman’s seven grandchildren, said: “In her humbleness the community recognition she received was never part of her conversation, however we proudly display her certificates of recognition in our homes.

“She was the winner of the Wharfedale Community Oscars in 2000, a Calendar Special People award in 1997, made an Otley Town Council honorary citizen in 2005, and received recognition from Leeds Teaching Hospitals for more than 28 years’ service.

“During her amazing lifetime and contributions to Otley and the world she also found time to play a very active role as grandmother in the development and growth of her very proud grandchildren, Ben, Dave, Joe, Tom, Sophie, Ella and Alex.

“Goodnight and God bless wife, mum, granny – you are a legend to all those lives you have touched around the world.”

Rev Buttanshaw said: “Mavis was a very special person with a great big heart. Anyone who knew her knew of her deep faith in God, and her readiness to speak of his love – this inspired her and sent her out in the service of others.

“She made such a practical difference to so many people in Otley and far beyond. She never sought any recognition and she ignored medical advice to slow down. ‘Why take it easy if you can still be useful?’, she used to say.

“In church and in the wider community we shall miss her greatly. Our love and sympathy go out to Harold and all her family.”

Born in Guiseley, Mrs Bowman’s family moved to Otley when she was a schoolgirl. Her education was disrupted for three years after she contracted Scarlet Fever, which left her with damaged heart valves.

Her early working life was spent at Silver Cross pram factory in Guiseley, where she met Harold while he was in the army, and based at Rawdon. They married in 1956.

After moving to the Weston estate, Mrs Bowman quickly became part of the development and fund raising committee to build a social club, and also began working as a nursing auxilliary at Middleton Hospital.

A key member of Churches Together in Otley, Mrs Bowman also passionately promoted the Women’s World Day of Prayer. Her funeral and a service of thanksgiving will be held at the parish church at 2pm tomorrow.

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