Community stalwart announced own death
TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular village stalwart who announced his own death on social media.
Graham Henley, 71, from Bowes, lived up to his reputation of having a dry sense of humour when a post appeared on Facebook the day he died. It began with the words: “Well, that’s all folks. I have baked my last pie. If this goes up on fb, it means I am dead.”
He had arranged for the social media post to be made after learning he had terminal cancer.
Mr Henley was known for being a passionate performer and supporter of live music and the arts in and around Teesdale.
He helped to organise countless events and gigs in his home village.
His wife, Sue, said: “It would have come as no surprise to anyone who knew Graham and his dry sense of humour that he would announce his own death on Facebook.”
She added: “He had a great passion for life and for people, He loved living in Bowes and took great pleasure in bringing live music to the village with Bowes Got Blues.”
Originally from Tooting in London, Mr Henley moved to Bowes with his wife in 2003 and quickly settled into village life.
Mike Bettison, a long-term friend, recalls Mr Henley’s love of good food and remembers with affection his excellent homemade pork pies – “the proper ones with jelly in”.
A keen amateur baker, Mr Henley was also know for his Christmas puddings which often featured as prizes at village events.
It was a shared passion for music that brought him and Mr Bettison together with their radio show, We Need to Get Out of Here, which ran for five years on Radio Teesdale.
Mrs Henley said: “The radio programme was supposedly to play good music but actually it was a bit of an excuse to play music they liked.”
Katy Taylor, former executive director of The Witham, also paid tribute. She said: “He was a lovely guy and he will be sadly missed.”
Mr Henley was a firm believer in residents having a focal point to meet so when the Ancient Unicorn pub, in Bowes, temporarily closed he was instrumental in organising a ukulele group which met regularly in Bowes Village Hall.
Another organisation that Mr Henley was involved in was Singing for the Brain, a group which performed for the Alzheimer’s Society at the Methodist church in Barnard Castle.
For most of his working life Mr Henley worked in IT and after retirement kept his hand in by helping locals with
websites and computer problems.
Mrs Henley said: “There will be a celebration of Graham’s life at a later date.”
It was Mr Henley’s wishes that his body should be donated to medical science. He leaves his wife, Sue.