ON Saturday, June 1 over 200 people came together at Christchurch in Ilkley to celebrate the life of much-loved Ilkley Quaker, Brian Meara, who died aged 95 on March 17, 2019.

Brian was born in 1924 in Hipperholme, Halifax, into a Methodist family, and was educated at Hipperholme Grammar School.

He was friendly with a group of lads at the church, one of whom had registered as a conscientious objector and, inspired by him, in 1942 Brian joined the Friends’ Ambulance Unit.

Between 1942 and 1947 he worked in hospitals in Gloucester and Scotland and then trained as a cook in London, running a small cookery school.

In 1947 Brian joined a nutrition survey in three villages in Northern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). This was an important part of life for Brian, learning about and living with the local people. He returned home in 1948 and left the Friends’ Ambulance Unit. He became a Quaker in his thirties.

After teaching for a few years, Brian realised he was more interested in the students than the particular subject he was teaching, which led him to train as a Probation Officer.

He worked in Leeds, becoming Senior Probation Officer in Chapeltown until his retirement in 1984.

In retirement Brian was fully involved with Quakers in Bradford and Ilkley, working both locally and nationally.

In Ilkley, Brian was involved with U3A, Churches Together in Ilkley, and Ilkley Peace Group, and was a member of many local organisations.

Brian led a full and active life; together with his wife Margaret, he was a friend to many people here in Ilkley and overseas.

The Memorial service at Christchurch was held as a Quaker meeting for worship to celebrate Brian’s life, in which anyone who felt moved to speak could stand up and talk about their memories of him.

Over 20 people spoke, some having travelled from all over the UK, remembering his work in the Friends’ Ambulance Unit, as colleagues in the Probation Service, sharing campaigns against the Iraq war, his contribution to life in Ilkley and Bradford and his very special role in Ilkley Quaker meeting. As one local Quaker put it: “He was the father of the Meeting, always welcoming, and smiling, with a wonderful calm presence. We shall miss him greatly”

He had many roles, but he was especially valued for his quiet presence, his inner strength and cheerful nature and the way he supported young and old alike. He will be missed by many.