Obituary: Angela Drower, granddaughter of holiday camp founder Joseph Cunningham

Angela Drower and Denys Drower

Angela Drower and Denys Drower

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One of the last members of the Cunningham family to remember the famous holiday camp at its height has died aged 88.

Angela Drower was the granddaughter of Joseph Cunningham who founded the Cunningham Young Men’s Holiday Camp in 1879.

Mrs Drower spent her youth in the Isle of Man where her father Harley Cunningham ran the farm at Ellerslie, near Crosby, which supplied fresh produce for the holiday camp kitchens. During this time, Mrs Drower lived at Eastcliffe, in Victoria Road in Douglas, opposite the holiday camp, and Ellerslie. A family friend at this time was the artist William Hoggart and this, along with her love of the Manx countryside, especially the glens, inspired her as a painter.

Initially educated in Douglas, she later went to Cheltenham Ladies’ College before studying art at the Regents Street Polytechnic in London. During this period she met her husband, BBC announcer Denys Drower and they married in 1947. Their three children Annabel, Jill and the late poet and satirist Roly Drower were brought up near London but when Mr Drower retired the couple moved back to the Isle of Man in the early 1980s.

Mrs Drower’s daughter Annabel said: ‘The move opened up a new, happy and creative period for both of them. While Denys developed his interest in steam and began to write, Angela went to art classes, firstly in Foxdale and then in Ramsey, and spent more time with her paintbrushes, producing watercolours of Manx life and scenery.’

Her paintings included scenes of Peel Harbour, Tynwald Day and Snuff the Wind.

While living near London she had been a Red Cross volunteer and she renewed this interest in the Isle of Man, fundraising, helping out on the TT course and helping the old and infirm. For a few years they lived in lower Foxdale before moving to a bungalow in Ballaugh.

After suffering a stroke in 2001, Mrs Drower and her husband were forced to move back to the UK in 2009 to live near family in Cambridge, though they did manage two return visits to the island.

She leaves behind two daughters, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

The family is planning to stage an exhibition of her artwork in the Isle of Man some time in the spring of 2016.

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