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Well-know author and broadcaster Anne-Marie Edwards dies aged 90

A WELL-known author and broadcaster from Ashurst whose love of exploring stemmed from her adventures as a war evacuee has died aged 90.

Anne Marie Edwards, who had a passion for the countryside, wrote more than 40 books during her career.

In 1980, after writing to the BBC to ask them to run a radio programme on local walks, she was given a show on Radio Solent which ran every week for seven years.

Anne Edwards
Anne Edwards

She had a weekly slot on BBC Radio Solent, which saw her dubbed ‘Anne of a thousand walks’, which resulted in a series of four walking books which eventually stretched to Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy country.

Born and educated in York, aged just seven at the outbreak of war her house was destroyed by a bomb which hit within yards of the air raid shelter in which she was sleeping.

She searched the smoking ruins for her dolls, Tommy and Rosemary, but found only her embroidery work basket which she treasured all her life.

She was first evacuated to Lockton on the North York Moors where she enjoyed roaming with her brother, Richard.

Anne Edwards had a passion for the outdoors
Anne Edwards had a passion for the outdoors

They later moved across the valley to Levisham, where she would regularly escape from the train to school, spending her days roaming the moors with a map and compass, having been taught how to use them by her father, who had been a desert scout with Lawrence of Arabia.

After the war Anne’s parents moved to Welburn, near 18th century Castle Howard, where Anne became the first guide after then-owner Major Howard opened the house to the public.

In 1950, her brother, Richard, who was a cadet pilot at RAF College Cranwell, brought his Australian colleague Mike home to spend Christmas with the family.

Anne quickly decided she was going to marry him and told her mother so – but Mike was kept in the dark and made to jump through hoops!

Anne and Mike Edwards on their wedding day
Anne and Mike Edwards on their wedding day

In 1951 she won a small grant to read English at Manchester University, but her father refused to supplement it, so she put the entire amount on a horse running in the Grand National at her local betting shop, and it came in with odds of 66/1.

After this, her parents decided to support her educational aspirations.

Anne and Mike were married in 1955 and their children Julie and Chris were born in 1956 and 1957.

In 1959 Mike, who was in the air force and went on to become a squadron leader, was posted to RAF Hornchurch in Essex.

Anne loved the countryside. Above, with her husband Mike
Anne loved the countryside. Above, with her husband Mike

He found Anne a position as head of English at a girls’ secondary school in Romford. She had had no training or experience as a teacher, but was an outstanding success.

She introduced the GCE to the school and some of the girls won top grades.

One of her pupils Sybil Lines had a particularly fine voice and Anne produced her as Eliza in Pygmalion , the school play.

She was such a success, that Anne told her parents they must put her on the stage.

They followed Anne’s advice and she went on to join the Royal Shakespeare Company before moving to the US where she still performs in numerous theatre including on Broadway, television and film roles.

In 1967 Anne gained her MA in English at Southampton University.

Anne shared Mike’s passion for the outdoors and together they climbed high mountains including Teide in Tenerife and Coma Pedrosa, in Andorra.

They sailed from Essex to France, spent whole weeks backpacking in the hills, and canoed remote rivers in Europe from their own little meadow in Normandy.

She continued writing outdoor books and later toured the USA lecturing on Jane Austen and publishing a new book, Walking with William Shakespeare.

She also enjoyed giving lectures to a variety of audiences including the U3A, rotary clubs, Inner Wheel and Colbury Wives.

She also undertook a martial arts course, with her ex-SAS instructor branding her “bloody lethal” and she went on to learn martial arts for eight years.

When Mike became a flying instructor at the college of air training in Hamble, Anne taught liberal studies at the school of navigation over the river at Warsash.

Whilst there she produced a farewell show for Captain Wakeford, ‘Sound of the Sea’.

They later moved to Ashurst, where over 50 years Anne wrote over 40 books.

Paying tribute, Mike told the A&T: “She was out of this world, unique.

“She was full of surprises – you never knew what was around the corner.”

Her funeral was held at Christ Church in Colbury.

Donations in her memory can be made to the church by cheque or online at anneedwards.muchloved.com

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