A parasol for Iris
I have been asked many times "Who is Iris"? Well Iris Wallbank was a founder member of the Guild of Needlelaces, a Committee Member, and a very active one at that! It was she who was responsible for the vast increase in numbers attending our AGM's by suggesting we combine it with our annual Lace Day and also for organising what became an extremely well supported venue at Basingstoke. Until that time the number of attendees barely reached double figures with members saying they could not afford either the time or money to travel such long distances, as the events were held so close together in the year. Iris organised everything, including her elderly parents and local Guides group to man the teas and coffees all day. She arranged demonstrations of various crafts and was always the first to volunteer if a job needed to be done. If she volunteered to do something, you could consider it done, as you could rely on Iris 100%!
Initially she was a student of mine, but over the years our relationship developed into one of great friendship. Iris was taking the City & Guilds Lacemaking course and came to me for help in working a needlelace cover for this dilapidated little parasol. What you don't know is that Iris was a victim of that dreadful disease breast cancer and she was also one of the hundreds of poor unfortunates in those early days who had been given too much radium, which by this time was seriously affecting the use of her arm and fingers.
Sadly Iris passed away before she was able to complete the parasol and I asked if I might have it as I would like to finish it for her. As you might imagine, with her increasing disability, the work of two different hands was so marked that I decided to start from scratch with a design of my own. I felt sure that Iris would understand and forgive me for not continuing with her design.
I would love to know who the parasol originally belonged to. Perhaps it was a child, as it is only 13.5" high and approx. 14" in diameter, or maybe it was a carriage parasol? Somehow I don't think so, as it doesn't fold in the middle like most carriage parasols and I feel it is too small anyway. Sadly we shall never know its secrets but I hope that if Iris has been watching its progress, she is pleased with the final results.
You will no doubt have realised by now that Iris was one very special lady, with a wonderful sense of humour and a true friend who is very much missed by all who were fortunate enough to know her. This little parasol has taken me some six years from my original design to completion and has been a true 'Labour of Love' in memory of a very dear friend.
With the help of colleagues/friends I was able to donate the sum of £1,512 to Breast Cancer Campaign in memory of Iris, from money raised from the sale of blank greeting cards printed of the parasol.