Remembering St Albans arts and poetry patron

A CREATIVE spirit who influenced and inspired many on the literary scene both in St Albans and beyond, has died.

May Badman, founder of Ver Poets, died peacefully on January 5 at the Oak Tree Manor Care Home in St Albans.

The 98 year old had been in good health up until her death, although her eyesight had deteriorated to the point that she was no longer able to see.

Members of Ver Poets say they are mourning the loss of their patron who had championed the arts and poetry in particular, for much of her life.

May first came to Hertfordshire in 1939 when she lived and worked in Hemel Hempstead, before she moved to Redbourn where she lived during the war. Her love of poetry developed through her friendship with the Rev. D Bickerton of St Mary’s Church.

She joined Verulam Writers Circle and soon after published her first collection of poetry, Night is Another World, in 1964. St Albans Art Council approached May and asked her to create a poetry group and for a brief period, the St Albans District Poetry Club came into existence in 1966.

May decided to set up her own group shortly after and with the help of her husband Raymond she established Ver Poets. The group originally met in Bricket Road and the meetings inspired many local writers and artists.

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In 1976, Ver Poets moved to the English Room in St Albans School and their Monday evening meetings nurtured many poets who went on to publish their work.

It was always May’s intention that Ver Poets would not just include a membership within the city and district and members from far and wide were encouraged to enter the annual Open Poetry Competition. May and Ray also produced many newsletters from their home to ensure that members of Ver Poets were kept informed of events, wherever they were.

May had many jobs throughout her life, working for the Schools Meal Service just after the war and at a fireworks factory in Hemel Hempstead. Prior to her retirement she worked for the British Medical Association, verifying the qualifications of doctors who worked overseas.

In 2004 a frail May whose eyesight was almost gone, relinquished her role as leader of the Ver Poets to a committee who continue to support and promote the work of poets.

May’s funeral will be held on Monday, January 24 at St Mary’s Church, Redbourn where May will be interred in the churchyard of a village that she loved dearly.