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Little Shelford's noteable village people

Antony Pooley known as Tony, died peacefully in the Cambridge Care Home on Thursday, 26 October 2023.


Tony was born on 12 April 1927, in one of the cottages on the Terrace, since demolished. He was the son of Cecilia, née Jennings, and Arthur, and was the younger brother of Derek. Cecelia’s forebears, the Jennings family, had for several generations lived at 93 High Street, which had formerly been the William IV pub, serving beer through the window to agricultural labourers as they returned from the fields at the end of the working day. Cecelia, Arthur, Derek and Tony moved in when the pub had become a private house, and number 93 remained Tony’s home for the best part of a century. Arthur ran a small sawmill from a barn in the garden and Cecilia kept the village supplied with eggs; she bought an extra piece of paddock land at the back of no.93 from the people who lived in what is now Low Brooms, and was a very strong and self-sufficient woman.


Tony had happy memories of Little Shelford in the 1930s. He especially enjoyed being allowed to help get the harvest in with the ‘big boys’: his brother Derek, and also Doug Walker and Jack Fordham who were close neighbours. Tony went to the local primary school, where he remembered the headmistress at the piano, scowling at him because they were performing ‘Widdecombe Fair’ for parents and Tony never came in at the right moment in his role as ‘Harry Hawk’. Tony also remembered the local doctor, who lived in Great Shelford. No appointments were necessary, but the doctor could not be summoned on Thursday evenings unless it was a matter of life and death, because it was his bridge night. Tony went on to Sawston Village College in its early days, on his bicycle, coming home for lunch. He was never much of a scholar, and was always someone who preferred his own company rather than being in social groups, but he was keen on mechanics, enjoying taking engines apart and fixing things.


Tragedy struck the family at the end of the war, when Derek was badly wounded, serving in the Irish Guards He came home, as an invalid, but died at the age of 22. Tony was just too young to fight in the war, but once he was old enough, he trained as a pilot, gaining his licence in 1951. Aviation became his passion throughout his working life. He moved to Canada, where he settled in Saint John in New Brunswick and worked as both a commercial pilot and a private pilot for the big Canadian industrialist K C Irving. This took him on many long-distance trips, delivering and fetching planes, to Barbados, Mexico and Egypt. Tony also loved boats and had several, living on one of them for nine years, all year round. After his father died in the 1950s, for many years Tony spent the winter months in Little Shelford with his mother until she died, escaping the harshness of Canadian temperatures and snowfalls. Doug Walker helped to keep number 93 secure and patched it up as best he could in Tony’s summer absence, although Tony refused to spend any money on house maintenance and the house began to fall into disrepair. Tony was particularly upset one year when someone broke in and stole some of his few possessions, including a pastel drawing the historian Fanny Wale had drawn of Cecelia as a child, which had hung on the parlour wall.


Tony did not make the domestic choices many people would make. He lived without many of what most of us would consider necessities, such as running hot water and reliable electricity. His accommodation in Saint John might not unfairly have been described as a shack. He was an eccentric figure, living an almost hermit-like existence, collecting old cars, boats and pieces of machinery a lot of people would think were junk. Fortunately, his Canadian neighbours were kind and took him under their wings, helping him as he grew older with his health needs, with Sunday lunches, repairs to the shack and lifts to the airport. The shack, however, was flimsy, and Tony grew older and ever more reclusive, until the neighbours got together and told him that it was unsafe for him to continue living there. He was helped to make the decision to live permanently in the UK, which proved to be the right decision, as a heavy Canadian snowfall brought the empty shack down not long afterwards.


In Little Shelford, Doug valiantly shopped for Tony each week, as Tony found the bright lights of Great Shelford too much and hated having to go to the Co-op. Doug’s nephew, the late Eric Arbor, also took care of Tony, inviting him and Doug for Christmas lunch every year despite Tony’s criticisms that the potatoes were too crunchy or the sofa too soft. Once Doug, who was ten years older than Tony, became too old to manage Tony’s needs, other neighbours took over, cooking Tony’s meals, sorting out his medication, doing his laundry and sitting and chatting with him when he felt up to it, although quite often did not want company and simply took food before closing the door in the neighbours’ faces. The time came when the food remained on the doorstep untouched. The police were called, and Tony was found upstairs on the floor, having broken his hip falling out of bed, which had also knocked his mobile phone somewhere across the room out of reach.


After a spell in hospital, Tony was persuaded that his cottage, which by this time had huge holes in the ceiling open to the sky, rotting steep staircases and no glass in the windows, was unsuitable for him to live in. Investigations into his finances to see if he had enough money to pay for professional care uncovered the fact that he had considerable wealth that he had never spent, and so he moved into the Cambridgeshire Care Home just before he turned 90, where he had a warm room, good food and hot showers whenever he wanted. He found it difficult to settle at first, but the staff were kind and some would even talk about aeroplanes with him. Until his death, he still recognised his visitors. He faded away quietly at the age of 96.

Posted Oct 31 2023

Derek Bishop MBE, who held a number of senior roles in his 37 years in the Army, has died aged 94.

He served in Europe, Asia and Africa.

In the Korean War in 1950 he survived being shot at as one of the 600 strong soldiers of the

Middlesex regiment. 42 of whom died in service,

including the lieutenant who replaced him when Derek was sent home on a language course.

In Greece, Derek was part of a British Infantry brigade supporting the Greek government

during the civil war in 1948

In Paris in 1951, he lived with a Russian family for eight months learning Russian.

Derek was offered the job of Brigade Major of the Parachute regiment in 1959 but a bad parachute accident left his leg in plaster for 8 months so the job was lost.

In 1963 he advised the Brunei Government on its actions to survive a revolt.

In 1968 Derek became a lieutenant-colonel commanding the 5th Battalion the Queen’s Regiment.

In 1970 he was promoted to full colonel and became deputy commander of the 3rd Infantry Brigade in Northern Ireland. This included responsibility for security along the Irish border.

In 1973 Derek was posted to the Ministry of Defence as Head of Defence Intelligence branch 2 responsible for India and the Far East.  Derek’s notes written before his death said “I had joined the world of professional spookery which I did not leave until final retirement”. (Not the same as or as exciting as spying).

This role included being Defence and Military Attaché for 3 years in Ankara, Turkey.

Derek’s last army appointment was Head of DI2 and DI3 responsible for intelligence on the ground forces of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Bloc.

Latterly he was part of the Cabinet Office’s intelligence staff.

Altogether, Derek and Brenda lived in 27 different homes before settling into the High Street in Little Shelford.

Brenda has Derek’s full version should anyone be interested.

Ben Orpwood, who grew up in Little Shelford, featured in February 2022 on Great British menu on the BBC.

In May 2023, he opened a London restaurant, 20 Berkeley, with Gordon Ramsay.

Ben’s love of Asian cuisine has seen him spend the most part of his career cooking in Australia and Asia.

He worked at Zuma in London, Istanbul, Dubai, and Toko in Sydney.

He began his career at Queens College, Cambridge under Hans Schwietzer of Cotto. He then joined Zuma as a chef de partie in 2005.

Ben went on to work on the brand’s launches in Dubai and Istanbul then spent five years working across kitchens in Sydney before returning to London to join Sexy Fish. After a stint back at Zuma, he was then hired to open Issho, a Japanese-style concept in Leeds.

The opportunity to work with Gordon Ramsay to develop a restaurant based on Asian cuisine arose for Ben and it has been the greatest milestone in Ben’s career to date. Ben has been Executive Chef at Lucky Cat for the past three years.

Ben would describe his food style as Asian influence, pushing the boundaries of fine dining Asian food.

When he is not cooking, Ben is known to turn out for the Little Shelford cricket team.


Little Shelford resident Professor Andrew Hopper CBE, professor of computer technology in the Department of Computer Science and Technology, was knighted for services to computer technology in the Queen's birthday honours in June 2021.

Being proficient with a soldering iron and having an interest in electronics started Professor Andy Hopper CBE on a career in computer engineering that led to him becoming one of the UK's most successful IT entrepreneurs.

Andy Hopper studied a computer technology degree at Swansea University, which included elements of business studies and accountancy. After completing his studies he moved to Cambridge University to pursue a PhD.

He is probably best known for bridging the boundary between academia and industry and the formation of numerous high-tech businesses. His success in academia led to some of Cambridge's first technology spin-outs. In 1978, Andy Hopper founded Orbis Ltd, to develop networking technologies and during that time he worked with Hermann Hauser and Chris Curry, founders of Acorn Computers. Orbis became a division of Acorn in 1979 and while he was there he designed the chips which led to the creation of the BBC Micro.

The experience of Acorn took Andy Hopper along a path that has seen him establish a dozen or more businesses. In 1986 he and Hermann Hauser established the highly successful Olivetti Cambridge Research Laboratory.

Andy Hopper FREng FRS FIET, who lives in Whittlesford Road in Little Shelford, maintains that research students should become directly involved in the spin-out companies that use their technology. "My fundamental model has not changed in 30 years, which is that a PhD student who works with me is a partner and should become part of the business.

Professor Hopper's next step is to address what computers can do for the environment. He advocates a move towards "energy proportional computing" and computation where every bit of energy is used for a useful purpose or switched off. Although the UK has built up expertise in green computing he emphasises that action needs to be taken soon: "We have got another few years but no more than that.


On a local note Andy has flown round the world in his Cessna 210 departing from and returning to his airstrip at Sainsfoins in Little Shelford. 

Caroline Bewes from Little Shelford is a Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire.

A non-Executive Director of Howard Group, a family-owned leading regional property investor and developer founded by her grandfather, Caroline is also a shareholder of the company, and chairs the Family Council.

Caroline takes a keen interest in the local community and is a trustee of a number of charities including the Howard Foundation, Mrs Jane Cart’s Trust, and the Cambridgeshire Police Shrievalty Trust. She is also a Patron of Viva, an arts and community group in Soham.

Recently appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Caroline served as High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire for 2021/22. As High Sheriff, a particular theme for Caroline will be a focus on supporting and enabling young people throughout Cambridgeshire. She will also seek to support the judiciary, the police and the prison services, and looks forward to engaging with the voluntary sector in the county through the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation.

Caroline commented of her appointment: “It’s a real honour to have the opportunity to serve Cambridgeshire in this way. I look forward to supporting and encouraging those involved in crime prevention as well as supporting and enabling young people, especially in these challenging times.”

Updated June 7 2022


Shelford writer Sarah Vaughan's novel, Anatomy of a Scandal, is currently being made into a series for Netflix. It was published in paperback in October 2018. The book appeared in the Sunday Times top 10.


Her most recent novel, Little Disasters, is being published in paperback on March 4 2021. Read Sarah's latest blog about the event.


She saw her first book The Art of Baking Blind published in 2014. The book was published in paperback in August 2015.

Sarah started writing the book in earnest the week her son Jack started school in September 2012 in the same month she turned 40.


She had been mulling ideas over for five months before then. Writing's not in her genes but she did once win a writing comp - Devon Young Writer of the Year - aged ten.

Brenda Bishop helped with this book by lending Sarah old cookbooks from the 1950s and 60s.

One of the character, Kathleen Eaden, is a play on Eden. Sarah took the name with its obvious play from Eaden Lilley in Great Shelford.

Sarah and her family lived in Little Shelford between 2010 and 2021 before moving to Great Shelford in 2021.


She worked at the Guardian from 1997. Her big break was on the weekend Diana died, no one was around and she had to write 2,000 words very quickly. She left the Guardian in November 2008. 

She met various celebrities while working in the media. Prime Minister David Cameron signed her mortgage form; she travelled with Tony Blair and interviewed Leonardo di Caprio; Sarah also covered Soham and Sarah Payne and Mirror libel case involving Naomi Campbell and the first Stephen Lawrence hearing. 

Sarah's publisher, Hodder is interested in her writing a blog/articles about old family recipes - so if anyone from this era felt like offering her favoured recipes she'd be happy to try them out and perhaps incorporate them. She may even publish some recipes in the back of the book.


* Her fourth novel, Little Disasters, was published in February 2020.


Read how Prime Minister Boris Johnson inspired Sarah


Read Sarah's blog about seeing her first novel on supermarket shelves

Read an exclusive blog by Sarah Vaughan here.


Sarah's personal insight into her thinking behind the book

John Sutherland from High Street, Little Shelford was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2017.

John’s research concerns the origin of life – how did chemistry initiate biology and to what extent did it shape its basic structure and function?

His research to date has focused on establishing prebiotically plausible syntheses of the building blocks of the informational, catalytic and compartment–forming macromolecules crucial to life, and his group is now seeking to establish how these building blocks could have become linked together.

His major contribution has been to show how amino acids, ribonucleotides, lipid precursors and core metabolites are the products of a reaction network based on the reductive homologation of hydrogen cyanide and some of its derivatives. The network does not produce a plethora of other compounds, however, which suggests that biology did not select all of its original building blocks, but was simply presented with a specific set as a consequence of the chem

istry of hydrogen cyanide and that set turned out to work.

His research has been recognised by the award of the Darwin Medal, the Tilden Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and by his being appointed an Investigator of the Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life.

Dr Martin Mansergh is an Irish politician who grew up in Little Shelford who went on to play a vital role in the northern Ireland peace process.

Dr Mansergh is a former Senator and Junior Minister in the Fianna Fail Government as well as being a historian and author.

He was born on 1946 in Surrey and raised in Little Shelford. He was educated and obtained a Doctorate at Oxford University where he studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He entered the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs being appointed a third Secretary in 1977. 

Mansergh was also a former Diplomat and political advisor to Taoiseach Charles Haughey, Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern.

As a senior advisor to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Mansergh played a vital role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process and contributed to it greatly in the last 20 years. He was involved in discussions between Nationalist parties and the Irish Government and met regularly with the Redemptory priest, Father Alec Reid. He was a co-winner of the 1994 Tipperary Peace Prize. 


In 2008, he was appointed as Minister of State at the Department of Finance with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Minister of State at the Department of Arts and Sports and Tourism. Mansergh was also a member of the Council of State during President Mary McAleese’s second term between 2004 and 2011.

Dr Hugh Pelham, who was the director of the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology who lives in Little Shelford, has been knighted.

Sir Hugh was appointed to head the world renowned Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge in 2006. The cell biologist lives in Manor Road.

After graduating from Cambridge University, Sir Hugh studied for his PhD under Richard Jackson and Tim Hunt, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001 for “discoveries of key regulators of the cell cycle”. 

One of the few British female motor racing drivers lives in Little Shelford. Fiona James has worked with horses for many years and her horses have competed nationally and at Olympic level in dressage.  Fiona owns a company called Active Equestrian Ltd which she started with Nicola McGivern nine years ago. They specialise in the training, sourcing & breeding of dressage horses, with one of our horses being chosen for the Athens Olympics.

Fiona's day job is Sports & Remedial Massage for both people & horses. However competing internationally in motor racing at speeds of up to 180mph is her big passion! She started out in 2006 after a driving lesson on a racing track proved she had a talent for driving.

She won her group in the BritSports Championship in her first year. She then achieved several podium finishes in her move up to GT racing in her Ginetta G50 in 2007, 2008 & 2009. Fiona will be making the big step up to GT3 racing in her Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 in the BritCar championship. She will be the only woman in the championships, with races ranging from two to 24 hours long.

Fiona may also being featured in a dedicated TV series on Motors TV. She moved to Little Shelford two years ago. “I had a lucky find with a house in Little Shelford on my first viewing, which was ideal as I have a lot of friends in the area,” said Fiona.

Shaista Tayabali, who lives in Hauxton Road, writes a blog – – , about her battle with Lupus, which now has followers across the globe. And she also plans to publish a memoir in the future.

She published a book Lupus, You Odd Unnatural Thing in 2021. 

Shaista has been helped by immunoglobulin treatment – essentially a dose of good antibodies. She then began lobbying for monoclonal antibody treatment - periodic infusions used to stimulate the immune system.

“I wrote the Primary Care Trust a very emotional letter. This treatment is expensive, but it’s life-changing. I’ve been having it for the last two years. I haven’t had any high fevers, I’ve been able to start my MA. If you added up the cost of my various hospital stays and all the other treatment I was having before, I think it’s well worth it.

“I went to Addenbrooke’s for an infusion this week and I was walking around with a big, stupid grin on my face: this treatment has totally changed my life.”


Paul Leivers has been highlighted as a rising star of the Construction industry after being selected as one of the top 40 to watch over the next decade.



Paul, who lives in High Street, is Managing Director of Planning Manager. He set up the company while still in his 20s. While Planning Manager focuses on large scale construction, which has included Olympics related projects, they have also been involved in the planning and successful delivery of a £50 million yacht.


He has also just set up a construction company called CB1 Build Ltd.

Actor Nigel Davenport grew up in Woodlands Road, Great Shelford Road. His father, Arthur, was bursar at Sidney Sussex. Actor Nigel Davenport spoke to the Independent newspaper about his memories of growing up in Great Shelford. (external link)

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