Rachel Rogers

Our Tapestry Friend Rachel Rogers, died 4th May 2019. Bridget Guest looks back at Rachel’s time with Quaker Tapestry.

In my capacity as the General Manager of the Quaker Tapestry, I had the privilege of knowing Rachel for over 20 years. Rachel was a Quaker Tapestry Life Member and on the Board of Trustees (Directors) from 1998 to 2005. During her time on the Board, she served as the Assistant Clerk to the Trustees and was Clerk of Standing Committee. The numerous other roles she undertook for this charitable organisation involved her in fundraising, public speaking, writing, jewellery and silversmith design, peacemaker, mentor and coach – I could go on….

I’ve been re-reading Rachel’s Quaker Tapestry Newsletter articles, which are full of lovely memories for me and reflect her generous, caring personality. Rachel’s articles include lots of humour – she had a great sense of fun. In the article ‘Telling Tales’ (Summer Newsletter 2001) she tells of her joy of becoming one of our Quaker Tapestry speakers, giving illustrated talks to many different organisations and groups which raised awareness of the Tapestry. Here’s a recollection of her very first talk:

“Armed with slides, prompt cards, screen and projector, I nervously arrived at my first talk. This was a trial run to a music club (I was their Secretary at the time). The talk went better than I dared hope – I didn’t nervously click the forward switch on the projector remote before I was ready and I only had one hiccup when I firmly told them that the third steeple of Lichfield Cathedral had been shot off by a cannibal – ‘cannon ball’ completely eluding me!”

During her time as a Trustee Rachel brightened up many a tiring committee meeting. She was also my line manager at the time, and an inspiring mentor. I looked forward to our regular one-to-one meetings together, often over a cup of tea and a scone. A great listener and councillor, she would ask me how things were going, listen to my work worries (and the joys) and help me put things into perspective. We’d soon both be laughing about something and nothing and all would be well with the world.

Ever the optimist – her emphasis was always on the positive.  Over the years, Rachel helped to raise thousands of pounds for the Quaker Tapestry. There was always fun involved in this task – she said, “I do think FUN should be part of FUNdraising”

I remember her ‘Diminishing Lunches for Fat Funds’ (Winter Newsletter 1999) in which hundreds of people were involved in cooking a simple soup lunch and paying for the privilege of eating it with friends. Another year she used her silversmith skills to make delicate silver brooches in the shape of a Q incorporating a real embroidery needle, just like the Tapestry logo.

In an effort to draw attention to our need for funds, in the article ‘Fundraising update’ (Summer Newsletter 2004) she made various suggestions of how Members could help raise funds for us. She said she was going to offer to ‘wash an elephant’. This was actually very inspiring, because that year many people did dream up their own wonderful ways of raising funds for us. However, in the article she wrote the following year, thanking friends for their fundraising prowess, ‘News from Kendal’ (summer newsletter 2005) she confessed:

“Sadly there has been one failure this year – ME!   I promised to do a sponsored elephant wash at Blackpool Zoo but in the end it turned out to be too difficult to arrange”

Rachel Rogers planned to wash an elephant to raise much needed funds for Quaker Tapestry

The suggestion of ‘washing an elephant’ got readers thinking creatively about raising funds. 

In the spring of 2002 our first café opened to the public and Rachel was a major driver in our fundraising campaign to make in happen. We has suffered a bad year in 2001 with the lack of visitors due to the ‘Foot and Mouth’ epidemic in Cumbria. In her speech at the opening event in 2002 she said:

“We now have some new staff for our tearoom… …and I can vouch for our cook’s sticky toffee pudding being second to none! For a long time Trustees have wanted to provide refreshments for our visitors. Finally last year (2001), knowing that the space would be suitable, we decided to go forward in faith and start an appeal for funds to convert it.”

We successfully ran our ‘Tapestry Tearooms’ for 14 years and the cafe space continues to be a huge asset to the museum today.

Rachel was significant in the writing and production of the Quaker Tapestry Calendar for the year 2005, with the theme of PEACE.  This was produced in time to be sold in February 2004. Sales were so successful, it was the only time that we sold out of calendars in the same year!

These are just a few of my many happy memories of Rachel – I could go on. I have enjoyed this look back in time. I will miss you Rachel and your endearing smile. My happy memories of our time together reinforce how lucky I am that our lives entwined. I will treasure our friendship which has unquestionably enriched my life.

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“An extraordinary history starting in the Lake District in 1652, founding banks, chocolate companies, building railways, establishing Pennsylvania, chatting with Russian Czars and Turkish Sultans.”

Who would have thought Quakers would be so interesting!