Ken Schofield Memorial
It is with great sadness that we say farewell to one of Woodside’s longest serving supporters. Ken joined the committee, as it was called in those days, back in 1993. He served as the Honorary Secretary from 1995-2005. He remained as a Trustee until 2010 and then accepted the request from the Trustees to become a Vice President for the Branch, a post he held until 2017 when he made the decision to stand down. Throughout this long service he was well known for his advocacy for animal welfare and addressed the National AGM attendees a number of times urging action to stop hunting and to encourage all to be a voice for all animals. He was a true animal lover and over time took on a variety of dogs who needed homes, ensuring that they had their needs met and a home for life. It was quite a mix of characters he and Su took in, requiring different approaches to help them settle but they were repaid for their generosity by their grateful canine companions.
Alongside his role as Trustee, Ken was a valued leader of the Junior Members group which met about 6 times each year to focus on various aspects of animal care. He encouraged the junior members to become involved in the practical activities and in the presentation work they produced for the displays. He was enthusiastic about the natural world and enthused his groups to take note of the wildlife around us during their afternoons spent at Woodside. He was a popular leader and the youngsters in his group often produced amazing dramas and persuasive writing to get their messages across. We missed Ken especially when he retired from this youth leader role at the end of his reign as Trustee for Woodside. For many years Ken lead The Campaigns Group we had at Woodside and he encouraged everyone to write to politicians, local councillors and to the media to spread the word for animals.
He also ran the Car Boots, the Craft Fairs and Dog Walks for Woodside with enthusiasm and with a great eye for detail. The customers, stall holders and participants loved his wit and sense of fun, all for the animals in our care at Woodside. Although not many younger people know this, he was also Santa at our Christmas events and rumour has it that even his own Grandson believed it was Santa. Many adults will perhaps remember his Santa for the selling of the packets of “Reindeer Dust” that he sold giving it the magical and somewhat naughty interpretation!
Ken will always be remembered for his jokes and sense of fun. He was affable and friendly to all and was always a huge draw when he was the resident Host on the Lawn at the Open Garden events. He said that he never felt this was much of a role to play but when you saw the way he chatted easily to people on the lawn, he engaged people in conversations about animal care, the state of the cricket, politics and then back to Woodside. He was also a popular speaker for the Branch and must have entertained and informed hundreds of people in the audiences over the years. Despite his ill health, he attended the Final Open Garden in May 2019 and gave a wonderfully powerful and moving speech to mark the occasion.
Ken was hard working and also appreciative of the work that others around him did. He wasn’t someone who took confidently to practical tasks but he readily assisted, even though putting up gazeboes was something he struggled with on account of one arm stretching longer than the other so he was always looking to put them up on a slope or with someone to counteract the shortfall!
Ken died on 21st November 2019 and will be greatly missed by those he has worked closely with over the years at Woodside. RSPCA Leicestershire Branch has been richer for his involvement and he now leaves a gaping hole that few will be able to fill.
- He once took in 3 goldfish that had been won at the fair. He was beside himself by the cruelty of animals being given away so casually as prizes but set Camilla, Parker and Bowles up in a tank at home. You can tell who was on the scene by his choice of names and I believe he exchanged opinions and views with this trio for a number of years. Unfortunately, after the demise of “Camilla”, he noticed that Parker was growing too big for the tank so he rehomed Parker and Bowles into a new pond that fellow Trustees Ruth and Sue had created in their garden. There was a landing ceremony and the duo were introduced to the resident fish. Bowles immediately fitted in really well as he was a similar size to the residents. However, Parker was so huge that there was a sharp intake of breath from the shoal – although within 20 minutes he was elected as leader!
- Ken, Ruth and Jeff attended an art class on a Monday evening. Ken, through his humour and ability to spin a story, was able to convince some of the fellow attendees that he was allowed out with Jeff and Ruth as they were his carers! He also said that he would offer to be a model for any life-class that our teacher wanted to set up but that he would insist he wore his socks as he would need somewhere to keep his paint brushes!
- He was somewhat of our conscience as a Trustee, ensuring that we completed petitions and spread the word about the campaigns at the time. He was also instrumental in getting the National AGM to come to Leicester having addressed the previous AGM to say that there was a need for these meetings to be held across the country. That AGM was also memorable as we were working to get the Hunting Bill through and Demontfort Hall was packed with hunting supporters which made the meeting somewhat intense.
- Ken, on collection days, dressed up as a chicken – Now where is that photo?
- Ken invented a popular crowd-pulling game for the Gala Day held at British Shoe Sports Ground – “Where did Solo do his poo?” He drew in the crowds as visitors were keen to take part in this new competition!
- Ken was always quick to recognise the success and efforts of others and thanked them for what they did.
- An odd one here – Getting the rich and famous to sign the Visitors’ Book at the Open Garden events. (They included Rupert Murdoch, Claudio Ranieri and a few MPs trying to keep a low profile.) Surprisingly they all were trained to write in a similar distinctive hand!