Jo reunited with beloved cows at last

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Dr Cyril Bennett, a world-renowned expert on fly fishing who cast his first ever fly on the Wey at Elstead, addresses members

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A CARAMEL-coloured steel sculpture showing Pierrepont Farm benefactor Jo Reader tending her beloved Jersey cows has been unveiled next to a footbridge over the River Wey in Frensham.

The two-tonne sculpture was commissioned by Frensham Fly Fishers, and designed by local teacher and artist Gerri Besgrove (www.geraldinebesgroveart.com) based on her sketches of actual Pierrepont cattle.

It was then crafted out of self-weathering steel by Rural Life Living Museum blacksmith John Cooksley, and hauled into place by Pierrepont farmer Mike Clear’s tractor.

A lasting memorial to Mrs Reader’s generosity, it is located a short walk from Pierrepont Farm, alongside the bridge leading across the Wey to Frensham Little Pond.

Mrs Reader died in 2018 having dedicated her life to supporting numerous environmental causes, medical charities and - through her own charity, the Josephine Baker Trust - aspiring musicians.

In 2006, she gifted her family farm to the Countryside Restoration Trust, and later helped Frensham Fly Fishers secure the fishing rights for a five-mile stretch of the River Wey. The club has since transformed the Wey into the well-maintained watercourse it is today, regularly removing obstructions and surveying its precious habitat.

Joining club members at the sculpture unveiling were Frensham Fly Fishers’ chairman Major General Peter Besgrove, president Dr Anthony Hilliard and Dr Cyril Bennett, a world-renowned expert on fly fishing.

Dr Bennett, who cast his first ever fly on the Wey at Elstead aged 17, said: "This is such a lovely river, and for that we owe a great deal of gratitude to Jo. I live in Wiltshire now, but it’s lovely to see the river is still exactly as Jo wanted it."

Dr Hilliard, a member of Frensham Fly Fishers since 1965, added: "Jo was a very generous supporter of the club and a great character. I am absolutely delighted to see this sculpture installed - the reality of seeing it in situ takes my breath away!"

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