Saturday 24th March would have been the 70th birthday of Clarissa Dickson Wright, one half of the popular cooking duo Two Fat Ladies (the other half being the late Jennifer Paterson) and dynamic, outspoken cook, rural champion and passionate defender of our way of life. Her untimely death in March 2015 meant she never saw that birthday, but while Clarissa is much missed, her legacy lives on, not least in campaigns for hunting and honest food labelling, as well as in our own Rural Oscars, which she loved to judge. Read on for the tributes to Clarissa that we put together to honour her at the time of her death. Further tributes from supporters and friends can be found on the Countryside Alliance Facebook page.
We must hold Clarissa’s place on the barricades
The death in mid-March 2015 of one of the countryside’s staunchest champions, Clarissa Dickson Wright, saddened us all. Tributes paid to her have focused on the broad themes of her life – her battle with alcoholism, her meteoric rise to television acclaim with Jennifer Paterson as one of the Two Fat Ladies, her books and her outspoken views on everything from food labelling to the RSPCA, the BBC to the Labour Government. Clarissa was a character with presence and huge intellect, but it is her kindness and generosity that many of us will remember most. The Clarissa you met is remembered here and we thank you for your touching and funny tributes which begin with the words of our President and Clarissa’s friend, Baroness Mallalieu, who in April 2015 presented the first ever Clarissa Dickson Wright Award at our own Rural Oscars to Peter Gott of Sillfield Farm in Cumbria. Since 2015 “the Clarissa” has gone to Peelham Farm in the Scottish Borders, Padstow Farm Shop in Cornwall and Briddlesford Lodge Farm on the Isle of Wight.
Countryside Alliance President Baroness Mallalieu wrote this touching tribute in mid-March, just as the news of Clarissa’s death hit the headlines:
Tributes to Clarissa Dickson Wright have come in thick and fast, in the media and elsewhere, since her death on Saturday was announced. But what has been surprising is their uniform celebration and appreciation of this incredible and courageous woman.
Even when I first met her as a young barrister in the 1970s, Clarissa stood out from the crowd. Highly intelligent, generous, entertaining and very sociable. I remember a slim, pretty young woman who held court in the student bar smoking her pipe.
After she stopped being a barrister there was a dark period in her life, when she fought her biggest battle – with alcohol – and emerged triumphant and with a strength and determination to throw herself into enjoying a life she had so nearly lost.
How fortunate the countryside and country sports were when Clarissa stepped forward as one of our greatest champions.
She was fearless, genuinely unafraid of threats. She once told me with pride that she was second only to Prince Charles on the animal rights brigade’s death list. She was outspoken, almost to a fault and far too brave for her own good and in everything she said and did she gave no thought whatsoever to personal self-advancement.
Clarissa threw herself behind all country sports and devoted herself to promoting a better understanding of the countryside, farming, animals and food production. At her 60th birthday party each guest’s steak bore a label giving the ear tag number, breed, date of slaughter and how long the meat had been hung.
Through television and her writing she conducted a campaign that tore up the rules of political correctness. Her support for the Countryside Alliance was total. Whether cooking bacon butties for the Women’s Vigil in Parliament Square, leading the Liberty and Livelihood March over Westminster Bridge, judging the “Rural Oscars”, driving the length and breadth of the country to speak at a hunt supporters’ club dinner, or just to be there when needed – Clarissa had time for everyone.
She judged people not on looks or status but on character. She could be difficult and erratic, and surprisingly, at times, oversensitive. She did not “take direction”. But in a fight you could have no better person on your side and what fun she was!
One of her last texts to me from hospital instructed me to hold her post on the barricades. That will be difficult as Clarry is irreplaceable but her courage will continue to inspire us all in defence of what we love.
President of the Countryside Alliance
Sally Merison is on the Board of the Countryside Alliance and was friends with Clarissa for many years because of a shared love of long dogs. She writes:
Clarissa – where does one start? The most black and white person I have ever known, with no compromise in her life at all. Extraordinarily brave, generous, infuriating and fun; generous in every sense, – with her time, her interest, her friendship and every penny she earned she gave away. I once suggested that she should save instead of spoiling my grandchildren to which she replied “but why? Generosity is my only attribute!”
One of my favourite stories, amongst many, was when taking photographs of Clarissa for the cover of her book ‘Clarissa’s England’, the desperate cameraman rushed into the house
exhausted and complaining that she was in a foul mood and refusing to smile, and after an hour there was no suitable result. ‘Easy’ says I, ‘just include Kipper’. Kipper being a border terrier whom she adored, and who reciprocated her feelings!
Pictured on the right is the successful result …
I miss her a great deal, not least for the wonderful laughs we had together invariably ending up
with tears streaming down our faces, clutching our middles with laughter pain. Ridiculous friends
are the best!
Kipper died a week before Clarissa – what fun they will be having together – but we are the poorer for their passing.
Jill Grieve is the Head of Communications at the Countryside Alliance and worked with Clarissa for many years, especially on the Countryside Alliance Awards.
Clarissa was the longest standing judge on the Countryside Alliance Awards, a fact she never tired of telling the other judges, be they the Farming Minister or a senior Editor at the Daily Telegraph. Her presence and personality, as well as her encyclopaedic knowledge of food and farming and our rural history, meant they always deferred to her judgement. Her presence at the Awards reception always reflected her standing with her fans too – she was always the star attraction and loved taking the cheers that went up when she was mentioned in the speeches, waving cheerfully at people who so clearly adored her.
The judging lunch for the 2014 Awards happened just weeks after her death, and it was of course quite a sombre affair for that. She would have loved the fact that whenever there was uncertainty or disagreement in the judging process the judges would turn to each other and ask “What would Clarissa do?” Her legacy is secure (see below for more on the Award in her name) and her impact on the Awards was phenomenal. On a personal level I will miss the chats, the gossip and her incredible kindness and generosity with her time and knowledge. We certainly pledge to continue her work, especially on clear food labelling, education and promoting our hard working farmers and small businesses.
One particular memory of her is related to the Awards – she and some of our champion businesses were invited on to record an episode of the Alan Titchmarsh show immediately after the Parliamentary reception. This involved a dash from Parliament to the studio and a quick visit to make up (“I’m going to get sprayed” she said with a snort – vanity was not for her.) When she returned from make-up Clarissa said that she had been sitting in the make-up chair adjacent to Twiggy, who she declared to be charming, saying self-deprecatingly, “You can imagine which of us looked more like a Highland Cow.” Clarissa and Alan Titchmarsh got on famously, both passionate about backing our farmers and producers.
Clarissa was so keen on the Awards that when she was asked to appear pushing a tea trolley in a skit for a BBC Newsnight anniversary programme, she insisted on wearing a Countryside Alliance Awards apron. Always outspoken, especially with the BBC who she thought made no effort to understand country life, this was a victory that amused her immensely.
Clarissa always loved to keep in touch with members and supporters, whether attending shows, speaking after fundraising dinners or sending messages via social media. She loved to hear how many “likes” her photograph had received on Facebook (lots, always), and would always be happy to text me a sentence or two for Twitter. The last message she ever sent to the membership was in February 2015, just a few weeks before her death. Moved by the plight of our flooded-out farmers on the Somerset Levels, as well as the efforts being made by hunts to help them, Clarissa said: “Well done you magnificent hunts to be sending valuable forage to the flooded farms to help the farmers. This is a true example of the overflowing spirit of community which exists in hunting and which I just wish people other than ourselves would acknowledge. Congratulations on your hard work, love from Clarissa”.
John Haigh was Regional Director for Yorkshire for many years and shared Clarissa’s passion for coursing. These photographs are from his collection and show Clarissa at the 2004 Waterloo Cup (right) and at the Carlton Towers Game Fair in the early 2000s (left).
Wendy Nix (formerly Peckham) was the South-East Press Officer for the BFSS/ Countryside Alliance from late 1996 until 2002: My memory of Clarissa is of dancing with her on Parliament Green Square late one night during the Ladies in Pink campaign. Perhaps ‘jigging up and down roughly in time to the music’ would be a better description and I’m not sure she would ever have agreed to be on Strictly Come Dancing but, boy, would she have been a wonderful co-competitor against Ann Widdecombe?!!!
As Wendy Peckham it was my privilege to be the south-east Press Officer for the Countryside Alliance from late 1996 until 2002 although this event took place after that time. I had travelled down from Warwickshire (where I was then working) to support the campaign and only left to catch the last train back. I’m not sure that I remember much more of that evening – but dancing with Clarissa has remained indelibly printed on my brain ever since!
An Award in her name….
In April 2014, just weeks after Clarissa passed away, her friend and Countryside Alliance President Baroness Mallalieu was honoured to present the inaugural Clarissa Dickson Wright Award in Clarissa’s stead at Parliament as a special addition to Clarissa’s beloved Countryside Alliance Awards. Baroness Mallalieu told the packed Parliamentary reception:
In conversation with Clarissa last year Jill and Sarah, who run the Countryside Alliance Awards, proposed starting up a dedicated Clarissa Dickson Wright Award, the criteria for which she herself would set.
Clarissa was touched and delighted with this idea. The Award would, she said, focus on strong animal husbandry, support for slow and artisan food and a platform for the efforts being made to foster our farming heritage through measures such as protecting rare breeds. She was also firm in saying that, because farmers and producers need to help the public connect with their food, we should honour them when they get it right. That campaigning side of her, keen to educate, inform and ignite a passion for food, was powerful and forms the heart of her legacy.
We had hoped that she would be here to present the inaugural award. Tragically that was not to be, but she did select the winner, most vehemently, and I am honoured and humbled to present the Clarissa Dickson Wright Award in her stead today.
Peter Gott of Sillfield Farm describes himself as a “Man on a Mission”, so it is easy to see why he and Clarissa saw eye to eye.
Sillfield in the village of Gatebeck in the Lake District is home to Wild Boar, Rare Breed Pigs, Herdwick sheep and rare breed types of poultry, all of which are Free Range. The owners, Peter and Christine Gott, have been running the farm for twenty years and now their daughter and son in law are also involved in the business and are just as passionate.
Some of the finest products in the country are reared at Sillfield. Wild Boar production started in 1993, when Peter’s brother gave him four wild boar gilts as a joke. And it’s just gone from there. The farm has about eighteen acres of coniferous woodland, which is ideal habitat for the 150 wild boar at the farm.
Jamie Oliver sends his students from his restaurant Fifteen to Sillfield Farm every year, where they are shown how the animals are reared and taught the importance of using quality ingredients in their cooking. Sillfield also supplies some of the best restaurants in London, including Fifteen Restaurant which receives 2 Sillfield pigs every week.
Peter Gott is a very well respected leader in Artisan Food Production and has spread the word on numerous television programmes, acting as a true ambassador for slow food but never forgetting that he is at heart a farmer with a family business.
Peter also has a weekly stall at Borough Market at London Bridge, a place close to the hearts of both Clarissa and her Two Fat Ladies partner, Jennifer Paterson. The pair of them
used to do cooking demonstrations at the market on the back of a flatbed truck, aware, as Peter is, how food tourism can give farming a real boost and help connect consumers and farmers.
Peter works hard to inspire and enthuse everyone he meets about the farm to fork tradition. His mantra is “Good food is one of the greatest pleasures in life.”
Peter is a richly deserving recipient of the inaugural Clarissa Dickson Wright Award. Clarissa was most particular that the colour of her Award plaque should be claret and gold. The idea of a Fortnum & Mason duck egg colour was rejected with a snort, Clarissa saying “they wouldn’t have me!”
I therefore have great pleasure in asking Peter, along with his wife Christine, to come and collect a special claret and gold plaque, given in tribute to an outstanding contribution from someone who truly knew the scale of your hard work and passion.
Peter and Christine’s website is www.sillfield.co.uk
The countryside pays tribute
On arrival at a meet of the Christ Church beagles on my lawn I said” glass of port Clarissa?
I don’t thank you
I thought you did
I used to, big time!
In 2001 the Foot and Mouth epidemic closed most of the countryside down and our Irish Game Fair which I and some friends started in 1979 was threatened with cancellation. Our determination to keep an unbroken series of events led us to look at some alternative venues, outside of the real hotspots, and venues where we could meet the Dept of Agriculture’s stringent bio security measures. The Ards Airfield with its location on the edge of town and Strangford Lough and with its mixture of air strips and some arable farmland was identified as a possible location and subject to stringent precautions we were given the go ahead to be one of the few public events featuring animals to take place in Ireland.
However practical a site the airfield was, it was very flat and relatively soulless compared to the traditional estates we normally use for our events and for a while we puzzled about how we could make it a special event and get an attraction to give it ‘soul’. Then someone said ‘what about getting Clarissa’.
Calls were made and we got not only Clarissa but also ‘The Countryman’ , Sir Johnny Scott. These two big personalities brought ‘the country side’ to the airfield in such a way that many people still reflect on the event as one of the best Irish fair they ever attended. Clarissa and Johnny appeared to be everywhere, meeting and greeting people, book signing and getting involved in everything from terrier and lurchers, horse and hounds, clay shooting, flycasting, cookery demonstrations and even having a go on the land yachts, which had an ideal surface to run on the runway. I have now organised 53 fairs but that fair will always remain fondly in my memory for the happy crowds, the impact of Clarissa and Johnny and the most visual memory of all, Clarissa , long skirts billowing in the wind serenely sailing down the runway on the land yacht at about 30 miles per hour!
Albert Titterington, Great Game Fairs of Ireland.
Back in 2005, we were living and working in Britain; resident in Berkshire for 4 years. We are now back in Melbourne, but remember with great fondness our times and experiences in the UK. I am a keen huntsman, a member of Findon Hunt here in Melbourne, and rode regularly with the Vine and Craven from 2004 to 2008. We lived and hunted through the lead up to and implementation of the ?ban? and could not believe the insensitivity and hatred espoused by those who supported the bill. It was so inconsistent with the general air of tolerance and geniality that typified our other UK experiences. My wife, who doesn?t hunt, doesn?t particularly like horses, and has a fondness for wildlife (including foxes) become a member of the CA to support what was clearly a civil rights issue and to oppose an illiberal and discriminatory piece of legislation.
We recall a very cold Saturday afternoon when I wasn?t hunting and we were instead out on a walk (excuse me: a ‘ramble’) somewhere in Tedworth country, I think. It could well have been another hunt, somewhere between Newbury and Swindon. We came across a group of followers and I managed to talk my wife into a slight change of itinerary. We found ourselves walking with and chatting to Clarissa. There was nothing special about it. Nothing particularly important or profound was said. Just a walk and talk with a pleasant and welcoming lady, who managed to answer silly Aussie questions cheerfully, while keeping her binoculars sharply focussed. It was, in fact, a simple experience that says so much about hunting and the way of life that it engenders. Clarissa was just country woman, following the hunt, and delighted to share the afternoon with strangers of like mind.
Melbourne, April, 2014
My abiding memory of Clarissa was when we all gathered in Newcastle upon Tyne to boo at Tony Blair who was in The Sage on the opposite bank of the Tyne. She gave a rallying speech, and as the crowds dispersed at the end of the day, she was stranded on the quayside with no hope of being able to get a taxi, or indeed walk the necessary distance to the railway station. Upon seeing her predicament, I rather rashly offered to get my car and somehow bring it to the quayside to give her a lift. I took off, running uphill about half a mile’s distance to the car park. Every road was blocked or shut off, and somehow I successfully managed to break umpteen traffic laws and return, some time later, and there she was, still waiting. Once in the car, and again boldly defying the road blocks to head for the station, I deemed it necessary to open the windows of the car (the only time I have appreciated electric windows which the driver can control). The fresh air, streaming in, thankfully and noisily, outplayed the very fruity wind from inside the car! Dear Clarissa, she was a truly wonderful, rebellious person, and breathed life and passion into fighting for the countryside, for which I will always be a fond admirer. She gave aim and strength to so many people. She is now Home from the Hill.
Rest in Peace.
Joanna Riddell xx
Myself and my son David were attending the game fair at Holkham Hall in Norfolk we were working for the BASC running the dog sections scurries etc. we were sitting around the tent having cooked are evening meal chatting away as you do with various members and friends when an anti burst in shouting obsenities and saying you are all mad murderers and killers . Clary just stood up and said we are all totally sain you are the only mad person here why don’t you sit down and take some tea dear. We all loved our Clary, God rest her soul, I’ll miss her dearly.
I had a catering business and was asked to cater for a Garden Party Luncheon where Clarissa was the guest speaker. I was very excited and at the same time nervous to both cook and meet Clarissa and I was right to be! She sat in the garden prior to guests arriving signing some of her books and I took the opportunity to walk over and introduce myself as a fellow recovering Alcoholic and Cook for the day. She signed a card for me “Sober Cooks do it best” and asked me what I was cooking. I said I was cooking a salmon Mousse as a starter and she exclaimed “Oh my dear I wouldn’t have dreamed of cooking that for 400 – you are very brave” and with that I panicked and scarpered off to the fridge to have a look at the mousses. Thankfully they were a success and so was she and it was a special day for me.
I met Clarissa at a book signing last year & the conversation turned to the ‘antis’. Clarissa told me that she’d received lots of hate mail as a result of her support for country sports. It all stopped apparently when she threatened to publish them & donate the proceeds to the CA.
Perhaps now somebody may wish to do so. I’d buy a copy, as I know exactly what nauseous specimens they are.
My lasting memory of her will be her cooking Wild Boar with Lanark Blue Cheese on an Aga in the middle of a field at the Scottish Game Fair at Scone Palace in 1999. Anyone who could persuade the organisers to set up an Aga in a field gets my vote. I have been a fan ever since.
A good quote from her is ‘the only good thing Tony Blair has done is made me get on a horse again’
I’m lucky enough to own a signed copy of one of Clarissa’s cook books. Her cooking is timeless and is always a family favourite. Her infectious personality will be missed in both the culinary and countryside theatres.
In those glory years of the campaign for Hunting I was fortunate to get to know CDW and Johnny being part of the team speaking to the public alongside both of them at a number of the country shows that she and Johnny attended. They are both wonderful people but I have a very special memory of CDW.
As you will be aware not only did C support all forms of country sports but she also participated in them. One of which was very close to my heart and that of my family was Coursing and in particular attendance every year at the Waterloo Cup. My son who always came with me to attend was well known amongst regular attendees for his smile and his appetite for picnics. Being 8/9 at the time he came across CDW who befriended him because of his bluntness of greeting. CDW told me be grabbed her coat and asked her if she was the “cooking lady of the television”. Unlike many other TV stars she showed a kindness and tolerance that are unsurpassed. The following year Oliver made a beeline for her and presented her with a gift he had made for her, a necklace of conkers all of which he had varnished. She expressed delight but not just delight, she showed real kindness to this immensely irritating boy who spent all his time at the Cup being in her company. Some five or six years after he had presented the gift they met again by accident at another country show. During their conversation she rummaged in her pockets and lo and behold produced the necklace which she still had. Oliver was speechless, as were the rest of us.
I cannot easily express my sorrow at her passing, suffice to say she was one of the countryside’s greatest ever friends and supporters, perhaps we might be lucky to see someone of just half her ilk again.
Fond memories of Clarissa and Johnny S at Belvoir Castle Country Fair in 2002 …
The other two in this photograph are John Frederick of Frederick’s Ice Creams, Derbyshire – they used to do all our shows in those days – and his lovely sister Julie, who sadly died of cancer a few years after this picture.
It was about this time that I worked freelance for the CA and organised the CA stand at the French Game Fair at Chambord for two years with Richard Burge, and Chris Jackson.
Christopher Lloyd Owen
When Directing Clarissa for a TV commercial, she was rather stand offish as being a trendy media type I don’t think she had much time for me…but… I let slip I was an Oyster Chucker in my youth. At lunch in a very respected seafood restaurant in Edinburgh she told the waitress to bring a dozen Oysters unopened and a knife! She smiled and presented me the platter…I duly popped the Oysters without alarm and we shared them! From then on it was like Directing a puppy! She was an absolute delight to work with, entertaining and refreshing. It is still one of my favourite commercials to date.
RIP very funny lady!
Returning from a coursing trip to Ireland some years ago, a group of us arrived at the airport to find that Clarissa had lost her passport. In response to our understandable worry, Clarissa, entirely unconcerned, drew herself to her full height as if addressing the Old Bailey and, with the merest hint of a self-mocking twinkle in her eye, proclaimed “I don’t need a passport. My public know me”. Needless to say, she managed to return to England without any problem in spite of the missing document.
It was a warm sunny day 10 years ago that we had the pleasure of meeting Clarissa Dickson-Wright at the Cotswold Country Fair.
The Bath Muzzle Loaders were asked to do a demonstration explaining the loading and use of flintlock and percussion muzzle loading guns.
Clarissa and Johnny were promoting their latest book and we were sharing the tent with them.
Needless to say we had a ball with laughter throughout the day. Clarissa had foie gras for lunch which she shared with us and it was delicious. She was like a big schoolgirl and was desperate to have a go with a massive double barrelled 6 bore muzzle loader which she handled with ease.
Johnny was also charming, shooting my seven foot long flintlock which dates from around 1690.
It was a day we will never forget, what a character, what a woman, what a loss to the countryside.
Pete Cashman, Bath.
Many years ago at Badminton Horse Trials, Clarissa was signing books, I think it was on the Countryside Alliance stand. I waited my turn and knew exactly what I wanted to say to her. Eventually I was face to face with the famous Clarissa, I handed her my book to sign and my mouth dryed up, nothing would come out, she must have thought I was such a twit. I was in awe of this larger than life character, who had amazing charisma and a ‘john bull’ approach to life, that I just looked at her with admiration.
On returning to my husband who was eagerly awaiting to hear all about our conversation, I said to him, ‘I couldn’t think of anything to say to Clarissa, she just blew me away’. A lovely lady, who will be missed.
Kind regards, Janet Brown.
Dear Sir or Madam
I remember several years ago when Clarissa was a guest at the South of England Show, Ardingly, and I got to meet her as I work as a casual laborer at the show. She was incredibly down to earth, happy and jovial. She was passionate about the Countryside and promoting it through the media to the general public in order to help them understand the rural way of life, and therefore become more educated. She will be sorely missed and will live on through her books and the memories we have of her.
Miss Clare Boyling
This was at the Hunting Rally at the Labour Party Conference in Newcastle just prior to the ban. We were there with Pendle Forest and Craven Hunt. Wonderful lady, very friendly and warm. She did more for the countryside and country sports in the last 10 years than all the politicians put together. RIP Clarissa, may you hunt with Gabriel’s hounds for evermore…”Gone Away”
While signing one of her books for me I told her my name is Tony Blair (true).
She burst into laughter and told me she had recently come up with a recipe for sweetmeats (testicles) which she had named “Bollocks to Blair”
Wonderful woman – we won’t see her like again
As somebody who probably only joined the CA thanks to Clarissa, I’d like to submit the following testimonial to her. I apologise for its length-you are more than welcome to cut or edit it. Thank you for all you are doing to remember this great lady………I was saddened to hear of Clarissa’s death, and disappointed I had never been able to meet her. I had hoped to do so at this year’s Game Fair, because I owe her a great deal. I was around 16 when (in Tesco’s ironically) I picked up one of Clarissa’s books. It opened up a whole new world, and way of life to me. I bought the book and read it, fascinated, and soon read my way through her whole collection. From the pages Clarissa depicted a moving yet hardheaded account of how the countryside works-and I was besotted. Though I technically lived in the countryside, it was in a very large village, and in fact I had been brought up a vegetarian. I had no connections with hunting or indeed any field sport. The world Clarissa wrote of was a new and foreign one to me, but one I quickly began to love. Her writing persuaded me to experience hunting and country sports for myself, and so I did, writing to my local hunt secretary.
I will always remember my first day’s hunting; a sunny morning in early Autumn, and from the moment hounds spoke, and came screaming past in a crescendo of voices, I was instantly addicted. As I followed hounds, I learnt about the countryside, it’s ways and its struggles, in a way that has to be lived to be understood. Since then, I have become passionate about all manner of country sports, and an enthusiastic follower of hounds of all description, beagling and hunting with my local foxhounds at least once a week throughout the season.
I had long intended to write to her to thank her and it pains me I never did and now will. Clarissa introduced me not just to the sport of hunting, but to the true joys of our countryside. In effect, she converted me – from a naive uninformed ban-supporting vegetarian to a passionate hunt supporter, with hunting an integral part of who I am, and I am immensely grateful to her for this. Thank you Clarissa.
Zachary Morris Dyer, Oxfordshire
Clarissa very kindly gave her time to give a most entertaining after dinner speech. We are a very small Hunt, not high profile, yet she gladly gave her time to help us raise some much needed funds. In the photograph she is having fun playing the mink hunting game, guessing which hole the mink will disappear down, also pictured is the game creator / builder & operator, Mr Roy Bennett. She had great fun.
A great lady much admired within our small Northern Counties Hunt. A great loss to the hunting world.
NCH Minutes Secretary
I saw Clarissa at a few (mainly food-related) events and always found her friendly and warm.
My last encounter was more memorable. I was meeting a client for lunch at the Cholmondeley Arms in Cheshire. I mentioned that Clarissa was known enjoy the food there. Before we had even place our drinks order in walked Clarissa – with a cheery “hello gents”.
Couldn’t have made it up.
A Liddle: I like many other had the privilege of meeting and speaking to Clarissa at the Midland game fair a few year back along with Sir Johnny Scott i found her down to earth and interesting to speak to She will never be forgotten and did what she was brought up to like Hunt and shoot -fish and keep our traditional way s of life alive so what can i say other than very pleased to have met you RIP and farewell to a to a fellow sports person
My memories of Clarissa are being lucky enough to meet her and Sir John Scott at Cheshire show when I was about 8 in 2002. My parents and I were there very early and saw them setting up and talked for ages about farming and hunting etc and sunday roasts and even Johnny’s views on butternut squash! We bought their new book and they willingly signed it. Later I remember the pro- hunt speech from them and “Freedom of choice and bollocks to Blair!” ringing out and that has stayed with me ever since. I also had a go on a rifle range and did badly and wanted to show them, without saying anything Johnny and Clarissa signed it “well done!” Johnny scott and “Better than me!” Clarissa. An absolute inspiration and wonderful woman.
In my Father and Clarissas heavy drinking days , they met in London and ended up in bed together. Waking up sober they both thought ,” surely I didn’t sleep with that” telling their friends as much.
Sobriety stopped a repeat performance ,but they both thought it highly amusing. Years later Johnny O’Shea tried to rekindle the relationship by giving her a red rose in The Cholmondeley Arms,
pretending it was from father . She wasn’t fooled
David Woolley, Hatton Hall, Hatton Heath, Nr Chester
This photo shows Clarissa with baby Courtney at the Game Fair in 2004. Taken by Courtney’s grandfather, Andrew Carnwell
About 7 years ago when I worked at a rare breed farm that Clarissa was particularly associated with, I was going through a painful separation from my husband and had very little money. I mentioned that I was worried mostly for my sons who wouldn’t get a holiday that year. She offered us her own home up north to use as a holiday base. Although I was never able to take up her offer, the kindness in that gesture has always stayed with me. Also, I had the task of driving her across site at one particular horse trails, to collect more books for signing. It was like driving royalty, the care kept on being stopped by well-wishers wanting to shake her hand. She had endless patience with most people except fools and TV Chefs! She always said “I’m not a chef, I’m a cook!”
As my friend and I sat on the spectators’ bank at the last Waterloo Cup meeting Clarissa who had a dog competing came and sat just in front of us and began to chat to a man nearby. During the conversation I remember hearing her say that she used to be one of the Two Fat Ladies off the T.V. ending with “sadly there’s only one fat lady now”. Then as the blue flashing lights signaled the departure of the small sad group of protesters a lady shouted to her “any chance of a lift Clarissa as my husbands just been arrested”. She left the bank laughing as her dog lost its heat!
Keep up the good work.
I have fond memories of Clarissa from when I was invited by Simon Whitehead (ferreter) to accompany him and take photographs for him on a film shoot in Suffolk. We picked Clarissa up and drove her to the fields where Simon was ferretting and to be included in one of her British cooking series in 2012. Clarissa was on top form and one can only delight in her “un-pc” attitude to life (she thought the film crew were all townies) and she will be greatly missed – perhaps we could rope in Robin Page as a close second to Clarissa, he would be in her slip stream – trying to galvanise sense into people – two Ambassadors for the Countryside out of the top drawer!
My fondest memory however, was going to a drinks party at the House of Lords as a Suffolk Committee member for the Countryside Alliance in 2011, Clarissa happened to be in the queue beside me whilst we waited to be checked and searched and enter into the establishment. Unfortunately it was raining and whilst we were discussing that we did not mind being out in the rain whilst waiting round a covert – Clarissa piped up “they should hardly keep us waiting in the rain when we pay their taxes”!
(At the very top of the page is )…. a photo I took myself where Clarissa posed for me at Mandertson House where the Berwickshire Hunt held a very successful Silent Auction and Clarissa was guest speaker. Fond memories of her that night, when asked if she would pose for the photo I must say the reply was very abrupt, to the point and very humorous and a good laugh was had by us both. Photo was taken March 2012. I do hope it is of use to you, Ian Renton
Clarissa signed one of here cookery books for my wife at the CLA on your stand, in it was written ” To Sue, fight for field sports and bollocks to Blair”.
W.Geoff Rollinson, Ribchester
I met Clarissa a few times and always found her to be a very forthright and friendly person. We shared very similar views on a lot of things including country matters and Anthony Charles Lynton Blair. Clarissa was a fantastic voice for all country people and she will be sorely missed.
Wendy Macdonald, Lancashire
The Countryside Rally in Inverness was the biggest gathering of Highlanders since Culloden. I worked for the police at the time but was desperate to attend. Fortunately it was scheduled for lunch time, and I gambled that if a friend and I tucked ourselves in behind taller people then I would go un-noticed.
Everyone was milling about before the start and suddenly I noticed that Clarissa had appeared and was standing by my side. I had always wanted to meet her, so normally this would have been a source of delight and an opportunity to talk to her. However, I was horrified because she was attracting the TV cameras. She seemed rather surprised to receive an only perfunctory greeting as my friend and I tried to melt into the crowd.
Later that afternoon, at a meeting, a senior police officer, noted for his lack of charm and latent fascism, cornered me and said, “I’ve got you on film, you’re a terrorist”. I always meant to write and tell Clarissa, she would have laughed, too late now……
I had heard of Clarissa, always spoken of in awe-struck tones, before her television fame, as she had shared a room while at the Bar with the man who was head of Chambers when I did my pupillage. I had the feeling he still twitched a little at the mention of her name, the Bar in the early seventies not being terribly good at formidably clever women who were on the eccentric and unconventional side. I finally met her in person at the New Forest Show, and found her as entertaining and charming as she was formidable. Gone too soon!
I met Clarissa for just a few minutes, at Tattersalls in Newmarket, where she was giving a cookery demonstration.
Before the start of the show I walked to the back of the building and found her sitting, alone, looking at the view.
I sat with her for a short while as she spoke of her father and her early life. She was in a very reflective and quiet mood.
My impression of her was sealed – a wonderful, no-nonsense lady with strong views and the ability to express them.
It was an encounter I’ll never forget.
I met Clarissa twice. The first time was at a coursing tournament at Bourne End, Hants, in autumn 2001. She co-owned a greyhound with a policeman I already knew, and asked me, as I had a good camera with me, to take some pictures of her with the greyhound. We had quite a long and cheerful chat about country matters, and she produced some sloe gin and shared it with me. I later posted the photos via the policeman.
The second time was on the countryside march 2002, right at the end, after the finishing point. She was very tired, probably not only from the march itself, but from so many people wanting to talk to her throughout the day – but was still cheerful. Not long after, I found Sir Johnny Scott Bt, and chatted to him, too.
Clarissa at the Hampshire Country Sports Day in 2012, photographed by Kevin Milner. The Hampshire event was always Clarissa’s favourite.