Tales from the River Ver in new book

WRITING about the River Ver has been a labour of love for Jacqui Banfield-Taylor – and on Saturday all her hard work came to fruition.

For Jacqui launched her book The River Ver: A Meander Through Time at Moor Mill in Smug Oak Lane in front of friends, family and invited guests including the Deputy Mayor of St Albans, Cllr Julie Bell.

It is the culmination of a family fascination with the river, the vicissitudes of which have occupied many columns in this newspaper over the years as water levels have ebbed and flowed and the river become a barometer of how dry a summer we are having.

Jacqui, who lives in Jordans Way, Bricket Wood, is no stranger to writing – she has had work published in national magazines and was a contributor to books written by her father, author and historian Ted Banfield who first had the idea of a book about the Ver.

It was Ted who started writing the story of the chalk stream which has had such an impact on the local population and landscape. When he died, Jacqui took up the reins of her father’s work on the river which she has lived close to all her life.

Ted and Jacqui’s mother Audrey brought up their daughter to love the countryside and the River Ver had a particular place in her heart because of the many hours she spent there with her family, friends and dogs.

The book is a comprehensive guide to the river, right down to such details as rainfall, aquifer and astraction tables, flora and fauna in and around the Ver and its Valley since 2000 which Jacqui has painstakingly noted. Whole chapters are dedicated to the various stretches of the Ver from its source at Kensworth in Bedfordshire to its confluence with the River Colne, looking at its history and changing environment.

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Packed with photographs, the book has a foreword by TV presenter and wildlife photographer Chris Packham who expresses the hope that it will further spread an appreciation of a valuable resource to future generations.

At Saturday’s launch, Jacqui’s husband Bruce read out a tribute from Steven Pugsley, chairman of Halsgrove Publishers, who praised Jacqui as, “a model author, attentive to detail and willing to listen to her publisher’s advice – even when she ultimately disagrees with it.”

He added that he had no doubt that it would stand as the standard work on the subject and expressed the hope that a sequel could follow.

The River Ver: A Meander Through Time is published by Halsgrove Publishing and costs �24.99. Copies are available from Jacqui on 07792 588892, email riverver@btinternet.com or from Halsgrove on 01823 216796, email sales@halsgrove.com