A PLACE to reminisce and reflect has been created in a country churchyard to celebrate the memory of a couple who devoted more than two decades of care to a Dales parish.

A bench has been placed outside St Mary’s Church, Kettlewell, in memory of the Rev John Potter and his wife Betty.

The bench was presented by members of the Potter family, who gathered at the churchyard on Saturday, October 16, for a memorial service for Mrs Potter, who died earlier this year. Mr Potter died in 1999.

Four of the couple’s children – Jillian Carr, Ann Ralph, Susan Stanford and Ian Potter – attended the service along with 24 other family members. Their brother, Tony Potter, lives in Australia and he and his family were unable to be present.

A packed church heard the present vicar, the Rev Tom Lusty, welcome the Potter family back to Kettlewell, where Mr Potter was vicar for 22 years, from 1960 to 1982.

Mr Lusty added the purpose of the service was to reunite Mr and Mrs Potter in the Dales. “It is an opportunity, after their spending so many years here with a growing family, to think of so many positive associations and happy memories of being here.”

After the service the congregation went into the churchyard, where Mrs Potter’s ashes were laid to rest alongside those of her late husband, close to where the new bench is situated.

Mrs Ralph said: “We wanted to put something in the churchyard where people can sit and reflect and reminisce, and it’s nice as well that we were able to do this so close to where our parents are, back together in the Dales.”

She added that the bench would need to be looked after, but this would be a good excuse for the family to get together in the future.

Mr Potter was born in Germany, and Mrs Potter was originally from Salisbury. The couple met and married in Salisbury, before he started his ministry in Croydon.

The Potters left Kettlewell when Mr Potter took up a new post in Ipswich, before eventually retiring.

Mrs Ralph said her father was a “proper vicar” who knew everyone in the village. Her mother was involved with many local organisations, including the WI, and was a keen singer.

Mr Potter founded Diocesan Summer Camps, which were held in different parts of the region and catered for 90 youngsters and 30 staff at a time, with Mrs Potter also very heavily involved in running them.

The churchyard at St Mary’s, Kettlewell, was recently named as the best in North Yorkshire in a competition run by CPRE The Countryside Charity. The churchyard was praised for being an area of peace, tranquillity and contemplation, despite being in a busy tourist hotspot, and walking through it was described as an ‘immersive’ journey.