Violet Mary Wright

                                         18th December 1935 – 3rd April 2004

I have written a piece here in dedication to a wonderful person, Violet Mary Wright, although her husband Ray hunted with the Cottesmore in the car, Mary didn’t. The peculiar happening which took place on a beautiful Spring day however, had no relevance whatsoever to hunting. Believe it or not, it is a herd of Friesian dairy cows in the small farming village of Freeby in Leicestershire that find themselves in the limelight on this occasion! There are those hardened cynics who may say that what you are about to read is purely and simply a coincidence and nothing else. However all the instances you see in front of you on this web site are true and have been witnessed by many different people from up and down the Country as well abroad. Those of us  who were present were incredibly moved that anything like it should actually take place before our very eyes.
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Violet Mary Wright or Mary to all who knew her, was born in Melton Mowbray on the 18th December 1935. Her father was a groom at a time when Melton had a reputation as being the Capital of English Foxhunting. It was of course the place where Royalty would come and spend many happy hours in the saddle, hunting with the Belvoir, Quorn or Cottesmore. At the time, as many as two hundred second horsemen would be seen hacking out of the town to a central point, where they would meet the hounds from which ever pack they were sent. Whilst Melton is known today as being hunting’s original centre, at that time there were no doubts it was a real hub of activity both by day and  more than likely by night!

Mary’s childhood was spent in Melton and it is where she went to school before progressing to find employment as a telephonist in a shoe factory in the town. She then moved on to working as an operator at the GPO who ran the Telephone Exchange as. Ray and Mary married on the 21st August 1954 and Mary continued to work at the exchange and Ray as a general Farm worker for Jack Darke at Freeby. Mary was a very keen at the time on sport and played a lot of Badminton at which she was very good and was well recognised as one of the top players in the area.

After a while Ray was offered the position by Lord Gretton as Cowman to his Whissendine herd of 150 Friesians. This he duly took and it wasn’t long before he was well into his stride.  Being such an extremely hard worker, life with Mary at his side was made somewhat easier.  Having given up her work with the GPO it was her responsibility to feed sixty calves and rear them from four days old till three months, with all the heifers going in as replacements to the dairy herd. However she had Ray exactly where she wanted him and stood no nonsense whatsoever which was as well, as Mary’s responsibilities also took in the cleaning of the milking parlour!

Mary was someone who always liked to have plenty to do and during the summer when there were no calves to look after she returned to Melton to work on the switchboard until in 1990 when they both retired. Her next challenge was looking after her elderly mother before becoming a carer at the Barleythorpe Old People’s Home near Oakham.  It was whilst Mary was working here that she suddenly became seriously ill and tragically died two months later. The local area and most of all Ray, had lost somebody very special and as you will have gathered a person who was never shy of hard graft.

She was buried at Freeby in Leicestershire on a beautiful early April day. It was as the large congregation gathered at the graveside to pay their last respects that this most moving experience was about to take place.  As Mary was being taken the last few steps on her final journey, we looked up to see a procession of dry cows walking down the adjoining field towards us and it would seem they had a sense of purpose on this day.  You would have thought that cattle would not normally like to find themselves too close to large crowds of people but this lot were totally unfazed and kept on coming in our direction until they reached the churchyard fence. This was no more than eight to ten yards from where we were all standing. It was at this time that they spread out and bowed their heads over for some few minutes.  Then, they lifted their heads up and proceeded to walk back into the middle of the field where they stood back and watched us. It was almost exactly as though they had come down the field deliberately to pay their last respects to Mary.  I have never witnessed anything quite like it before nor had any of those who were there that day. It made what was a very sad day one to remember for the most moving of reasons and I can imagine Mary would have loved it.


James Barclay


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