We have been informed of the sad news that Shirley Guy, a founder member of the current incarnation of Welwyn Festival back in 1999/2000, died from Covid on Sunday 17th January having been taken ill over Christmas.
When the Round Table decided they could no longer organise the Festival after over two decades in 1998, a group of people from local organisations that did not want to see it stop, got together to keep some elements of the Week going. Shirley was part of the new team and worked hard to ensure that the festival continued.
That led to Street Market and Family Fun day being the cornerstones of the Week, with many other items being gradually added. The Festival Programme was introduced, becoming one of the main fund raisers in the early days. Shirley was the friendly but persistent lady who persuaded local businesses and individuals to advertise in the Programme, and over the years raised tens of thousands of pounds.
That income was the main source of funding that enabled the Festival Committee, of which Shirley was a member, to fund Family Fun Day, which originally cost several thousand pounds to stage. Shirley would help before in the planning, and then during the Week to help set up and clear events away.
Her claim to fame within the Committee was that she volunteered to go round Singlers Marsh on the morning of Fun Day with her pooper scooper clearing away the dog dirt which had been left despite the notices asking owners to clear it in anticipation of the Fun Day activities. For many years Shirley carried out that invaluable and unsung duty, as well as many other slightly more visible services.
When people attended events like the Street Market, Open Gardens, Prom Night or Fun Day, Shirley was one of those that would set up her table and sell raffle tickets for the Big Raffle, another of the major fund raisers that have made more thousands for local charities
The Festival has donated to many local charities over the years, and Shirley alerted us to a charity in the Garden City that cares for severely mentally disabled young people. Jubilee House was founded some 40 years ago, when a group of parents persuaded Welwyn Hatfield District Council to donate a house for those parents and staff they fund raised to pay, to start the service which has gone from strength to strength and now has purpose built premises. Shirley was one of those parents, and though she never blew her own trumpet, we bet that she was one of the determined persistent people that got the project to happen.
Shirley was a generous, funny, helpful, persistent person, who would always help anyone in need. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her. Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.