Bid for memorial in honour of popular West Craven florist

FUND-RAISING FOR GAIL: Claire Thornton and branch manager Mel Bond with the �50 donation from Skipton Building Society. Money donated to the account will be used to install a memorial bench for Gail Usher in the Town Square
FUND-RAISING FOR GAIL: Claire Thornton and branch manager Mel Bond with the �50 donation from Skipton Building Society. Money donated to the account will be used to install a memorial bench for Gail Usher in the Town Square

A CAMPAIGN to honour a Barnoldswick florist with a memorial bench in the town has been launched.

Skipton Building Society has kicked off the fund-raising for the bench, in memory of Gail Usher, to be placed on the Town Square. Staff have opened an account at the Church Street branch for anyone wishing to contribute.

Gail, who was the owner of House of Flowers on Frank Street and had just celebrated 20 years in business, died suddenly in her sleep last month.

Branch Manager Melanie Bond said: “It was so sad to hear that Gail had passed away; I know many of our customers knew her well and we wanted to do something to help.

“We have made a donation of £50 and are inviting anyone in the community who wishes to make a donation to pop into the branch and add to the account. So far over £1,300 has been raised which is brilliant.

“Gail was a well-known figure in the local area, both because of her business and her commitment to the town. Therefore, it seems appropriate that we should do something positive in memory of her, which local people can enjoy for some time to come.

“We want to raise as much funds as possible so that a fitting tribute can be put in place.”

Melissa Beckley, who is now running House of Flowers, said: “The idea came when we were planning the funeral. We said we should have a collection for something that we could remember her by, and then thought about how she had her favourite spot to sit on the Town Square.

“Whenever she needed a few minutes to herself in a mad day, she would go out and sit in the same place. So it seems fitting to put a bench out there with her name or initials on. Of course it will have to be fabulous and very fitting for Gail.

“Karl, her partner, has drawn up some sketches and is finalising the design. If we collect more than we need for the bench, the remainder will be given to charity in her name.”

There was an outpouring of tributes following Gail’s sudden death, with many remembering her as an accomplished florist and prominent business woman in Barnoldswick.

She was a leading member of the Chamber of Trade and the first woman in the Rotary Club, of which she was due to become president.