It is with the saddest of hearts that we need to share the news that our much-loved life member, volunteer and former Trustee, Stephen Clark, passed away on the 2nd of March.
It is no exaggeration to say that Steve loved the Morrab Library. Having joined in 2018, he threw himself in at the deep end, volunteering for reception desk duty not once, but twice a week, where he welcomed visitors, suggested all sorts of interesting book titles to borrowers, and practised his language skills with particular members too.
Steve soon became a member of the library’s Book Selection Committee where he made brilliant suggestions to enhance the library’s collections, particularly in the areas of science and poetry. He stuck to his guns when the rest of the Committee occasionally questioned any of his choices, delivering eloquent and passionate arguments in their favour, and more times than not, winning.
When the library started a new Poetry Group, a fortnightly opportunity for members to discuss a different poet, Steve was an active participant. Much to the joy of his colleagues at these meetings, Steve arrived with a freshly baked cake, it’s flavour based on the nationality of the poet who was being discussed that week. Steve’s cakes also made regular appearances at library events – our fairs and fetes, Christmas parties and more. While all of these cakes were delicious, his Simnel cake was out of this world!
Many who attended the Library’s Christmas Party in 2019 will remember Steve’s acting skills too, when he played the role of former Library President, J A Hamilton, in the performance of Camidge & Stringer’s ‘Remembering the Morrab Library in 1919’.
Importantly, Steve’s love for the library ultimately manifested itself when he joined the Management Committee. In his own words:
“When you are in love, you want to do things for the object of your desire. So when, five months after joining the library, I was asked to join that mysterious body, the Management Trustee Committee, as Honorary Secretary I accepted. It has to be said that I agreed with some trepidation at first; I was still very starry-eyed about the Morrab and really had no idea of the responsibilities of the secretary, still less what the Management Trustees actually did. Being a Trustee is a privilege and a responsibility. It is like being behind the scenes with the production team in a theatre. We are there to keep the building in good shape, from the state of the roof to making sure that the plugs and fire alarms are tested, and the Wi-Fi system works. We appoint the staff and work with them to fulfil the current needs and future plans of the library. Overall, it’s been a fascinating and an immensely rewarding experience to feel that I have contributed something to not only keeping the Morrab going but also to shaping its future. I’m still in love.”
Finally, we’d like to share Steve’s reflections on his favourite room in the library – the Hedgeland. Perhaps those who knew Steve may like to pause and reflect when visiting here, and remember him fondly:
“I have a particular affection for the Hedgeland room. I feel it doesn’t have to stand up to the claims that the neighbouring literature room has for the best view and the most comfortable chair. It’s as if the attention is more inward looking to the room’s true purpose – the books and not the distracting view. And what books! The range of subjects in this room is astonishing: from espionage, sociology, through fairy tales to naval history, games, theatre, music. The list could go on for ever. If your work doesn’t hold your attention or you need some distraction, just browse the wondrous shelves. I love the shape of the room too, unlike the literature room you are not there immediately; you pass through the door but there is a short passage giving a sense of mystery and then a surprise as the whole room is laid out before you. “
Steve was a generous and warm friend to so many of us at Morrab Library. His passion and enthusiasm was always evident, and he shared this with all he came into contact with. He had a gentle and ironic sense of humour. He was a true renaissance man – sharing with us his scientific knowledge, and his poetry writing, as well as his profound knowledge and love of literature. And cricket too.
Steve will be sorely missed by so many of us, but we know that a part of Steve’s heart will always remain here in Morrab Library, and his legacy will endure.