Sidford stalwart Marion is WI president

SCHOOL teacher for 35 years, Sidford tennis club secretary for 37, Sidmouth bell ringer from childhood and now president of the village WI.

Marion Baker’s latest role forges another link in a remarkable chain of community commitment.

But she will not be ringing the changes for the 93-member Sidford WI apart, perhaps, from starting a drama group to add to its many activities, writes Kingsley Squire.

“With such a fantastic committee and secretary in place, there’s little need for change,” said Marion who succeeds Claire Crouch as president.

“Claire has been an excellent leader and she’s a hard act to follow. But I have a good team to help me.”

Her family history traces back through the generations of an old established local family to when her great grandfather was a Sidmouth wheelwright and her father, a carpenter at Fords, was captain of bell ringers at the parish church.

He taught her the art when she was 13 and therein lies Marion’s lifelong love of campanology. Still a parish church ringer, she has been chairman of East Devon Bell Ringers and vice president of the Devon Guild for many years. She joined Sidford WI 18 years ago and quickly found inspiration and enjoyment, as so many do, in its speakers and the diversity of its activities, the most recent being its choir led by Mrs Crouch.

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Marion’s love of the Sid Valley, however, mirrors the time and talents she gives to her community.

“I count myself lucky never to have left,” she says. “A lot of my friends I went to school with went away. But they all come back to Sidmouth. It’s that sort of place. It draws and calls people back.

“That’s why we don’t want to see the natural beauty of this lovely valley spoilt by development.”

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