Please join me, not in mourning the passing of Peggy Pacey, but celebrating her wonderful life.

Peggy Pacey had, like one other famous lady, two birthdays as her father - who incidentally started Sketchleys - was so pleased at her birth that he set off to register the event but called at a few hostelries to celebrate on the way and finally did so two days later!

l was first introduced to Park Farm in the autumn of 1969, Once l started courting Denise it was not her parents who had first to give approval but Miss Pacey.

I remember being asked for tea, and my first meeting with this redoubtable lady dressed in stout shoes, cords, collar and tie, a donkey jacket and beret, with a skin and complexion that would have been the envy of any top model, was one of a little trepidation. Once welcomed I was quickly informed that animals were fed before humans, and was then instructed in the art of feeding some thirty plus cats and a handful of dogs.
Aunty Peggy, as I was later permitted to call her, was a formidable lady. Before the war being taken to France to play the Aga Khan's polo ponies, and riding Snap Dragon to win the last hack championship  at the Royal International Horse Show at Haringey.

During the war she was in the R.A.F. becoming a fitter and instructor, and then a staff car driver, and motorcycle dispatch rider, with 3 group bomber command , escorting and meeting Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester in 1941 and being thanked personally by Winston Churchill for her war efforts. She was also involved in the development of the armies amphibious vehicle, know as a duck.  A skill which she later used to drive her Land Rover around Park Farm, with one of us perilously balanced on the tailboard trying to distribute bales of hay.

I was soon asked to ride at Park Farm, and enjoyed many days hunting with the Heythrop. The tack room at Park Farm was a joy with 46 bridles and 25 saddles. Friends often called in to borrow a piece of tack, though not all of these were returned, -WE KNOW WHO VOU ARE! The tack was always cleaned after use, and the whole lot given saddle soap at least once a week. A tradition that I am not sure Nick or Jason managed to keep up.
There were days when hounds approached Plundon Lane, when Denise or I would be called forward to go ahead and make sure - as the captain put it — those dam cats are shut up, but I am not sure whether the captain was more scared of his hounds killing a cat or his hounds facing 30 cats and Aunty Pegg.

Aunty Pegg was a much revered judge of a horse, both in their best cloths, and in the rough, called upon every autumn to approve the Newmarket entries of Lady Wifold, Miss Pet Hermon Hogg and several others, she also retained two places at the Tattersall's December sales, for her own fine home grown bloodstock. To this end a small lorry was purchased, but was found not be fast enough, so Mr Benfield was instructed to remove the 4 cylinder petrol engine, and replace it with a 6 cylinder diesel, which over the years,  shook the beast to pieces. The lorry was affectionately called Mayday, due to its reliability. One afternoon we reluctantly left aunt to drive back from Newmarket, after a successful sale, while we sped home to put the animals to bed. It started to snow as we left Newmarket. so it was with some trepidation that we greeted aunty back to Park Farm around
8.00. unfortunately Maydays windscreen had shattered so aunty Pegg punched a large hole in it, wrapped herself in a horse blanket and drove home, we extracted the half frozen body from the snowfllled cab, and she managed to utter one word- PORT. Her favourite tipple taken with every genuine excuse to celebrate.

Mayday was also used as an ambulance when Angus had a fall on park farm, and was transported to Banbury hospital, on a hurdle in the back, with aunty Peg using all her driving skills.

Aunty Peggy’s prowess as a judge was much respected, and regular trips were made year after year to the Royal Show, Bath and West, Three Counties, and flying up and back in the same day from Birmingham to judge at the Royal Highland. Also on a day judging at Winsor she and Denise were collected from the showground in a large black limousine, and driven to Winsor Castle for aunt to approve a highland pony being sold by the Queen, before it could be shipped to America. The sign I erected saying ' by appointment to her maj'  was swiftly disposed of!

Aunty Peggy was also a wonderful cook, teaching both Denise and I the art of making the perfect meringue, and making the best ever bread sauce. A rib of beef was always cooked on Sunday, with cold cuts for later in the week. This was supplied by Mr Wrighton, who every week would run the gauntlet of Peggy's sheep dog, who thought if he bit Mr Wrighton hard enough he would drop the meat‘

Other visitors to Park Farm included an Italian count who came to try a slightly flighty chestnut mare. They were let loose in the park, and on the second rather fast circuit the count fell off the back. The mare trotted back to be put in her box, and when the limping , but smiling count returned, offering to buy the mare, he was quickly told to learn to ride, and come back in a year or two.

Lastly it just remains to thank Jason, for looking after Peggy, and keeping her amused in the later years, and to thank Heather for the wonderful care she administered right to the end.

So again please join me, not in mourning the passing of Peggy Pacey, but in celebrating her wonderful life.