Richard Adams, author of Watership Down, celebrated his 90th birthday at the White Hart in Whitchurch. Whitchurch Arts, presented him with a portrait done by local artist, Steve Miller.
“Whitchurch Arts have launched the ‘Off the Walls’ project, organised by Jude Price, whereby local artists can display their paintings in the pub, with 10% of the proceeds going to Whitchurch Arts, and 10% to the White Hart and 80% to the artist. Steve Miller very kindly donated his portrait of Richard Adams to Richard, who wrote a special poem for the occasion which is below”.
Oh Whitchurch fair !
What joy it is
To come back here from London grime
What happiest joys are his
Who knows once more the blessed time
Has come for his return.
Blue Skies, Green Grass, sweet leaves on Whitchurch Trees
And upstream Test of slender size
Runs sparkiling in the summer breeze
To laze beside the cricket pitch
And watch thy batsmen boundaries smite
What rural bliss ! Oh joy how rich
To come back home to golden light
Of Whitchurch Summer .
Boys and Gal lets bless the Mayor adorned with chain
Thank God I am his Whitchurch pal.
Thank God I feel alive again
When I return and see my home
My Whitchurch home, that’s like no other
I am resolved ,I’ll never roam
I count each Whitchurch man, my brother.
I floor my pints at Whitchurch bars
At Whitchurch tables eat my dinners
I gaze aloft at Whitchurch stars.
Oh Whitchurch publicans and sinners
Rejoice with me !This place is ours
And where could we find ?
Ladies bouquets of Whitchurch flowers
Be yours, and Whitchurch roofs designed for you to dwell in happiness.
My home. Our home ! here I return
And here I stand and here I bless
Dear Whitchurch, how my heart does burn
From these few words you all may see
Just how it burns.let no one frown
Upon the fond simplicity
Of this rough speech.
Now I’ll sit down.
Andrew Reeves-Hall, chairman of Whitchurch Arts presided, and Graham Burgess, Director of the project put the occasion into context and led the traditional happy birthday song for Richard.
Andrew Reeves-Hall Richard Adams GY Steve Miller
Richard Adams with his Portrait