The MSA’s first patron was Lord Sandys (otherwise known as Richard Michael Oliver Hill, the seventh Baron Sandys of Ombersley). At a national level, for several years he took an active role in the House of Lords, and between 1979 and 1983, was Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard (as shown in the photograph below).
Locally, he was influential and held a variety of prominent positions including Deputy Lieutenant of Worcestershire, and was President of the County British Red Cross Society, the Three Counties Agricultural Society, Worcestershire Council for the Protection of Rural England, Worcestershire Country Landowners Association, Worcester Conservative Association, the Worcestershire Parish Councils Association and the County Building Preservation Trust.
Lord Sandys took an active interest in Malvern water and the MSA, and gladly accepted our invitation to be MSA patron. In fact, he was distantly related to Dr John Wall who was involved in the development of Malvern as a spa town. In the 19th century, his forebears had created a public spring water-collecting feature just off Spring Lane in Malvern Link. Unfortunately, over time, the Spring Lane site fell into disrepair. However, in the mid-2000s, it was renovated as part of the MSA’s Heritage Lottery-funded spring restoration project, and Lord Sandys contributed towards the cost. He often attended our social events, and I remember one memorable meal at the Swan at Newland where he entertained us all evening with his stories.
When he died in 2013, I turned to my friend Ernie Kay MBE, who supported many local organisations. As was his wont, Ernie became actively interested in our projects, especially the rediscovery of Rosebank Gardens Well, and like his predecessor, enjoyed being part of the MSA’s social community. He died in January 2019, and is sadly missed. However, he set up the Kay’s Trust in memory of his two wives Kathy and Margaret, and most generously, money was allocated to fund MSA projects. Some of his legacy went on cleaning and restoring the original patina on the lovely cherubs of the Jacob Fountain – now situated in the Malvern Theatres café where the feature can be seen in all its glory. We are also planning to use some of the funds to create and publish a beautiful book about Malvern water, illustrated with photos taken by Jan Sedlacek.
Ernie Kay in 2013 (image © business-live.co.uk), and a restored Jacob fountain cherub
Today, we are very lucky to have Councillor Cynthia Palmer as our patron. She is ex-Mayor of Malvern, currently Chair of MHDC, and a very loyal, active and enthusiastic supporter of the MSA. As soon as her two years of Mayorship came to an end, I popped the question, ‘Would she be our patron?’. She accepted with alacrity, and since then we have benefitted from her many years of experience; wise advice; passion for the town, its communities and spring water heritage; and her great sense of fun.
For two years running, Cynthia was more than happy to volunteer to be the ‘victim’ for the Water Cure treatment, which until the pandemic was re-enacted annually at the May Day water festival in Priory Park (this year she won’t be there, so another victim has been lined up, but we’re hoping she will be back next year…).
Dr John Harcup OBE (MSA Chairman)