Stanley Leonard Bowyer
Stanley was born on March 6th 1907 at Ashridgewood Farm. The youngest of the five children of Henry Bowyer (1866-1941) and his wife, Eliza May (1869-1932, he was educated at Grosvenor House School, Wokingham and at the Reading Collegiate. He started work in 1923 with George Ford & Son of Hurst where he gained considerable experience of the corn merchants’ trade.
In 1926 at the age of nineteen, he and his father set up business as Henry Bowyer & Son Corn Chandlers, 52 Peach Street, Wokingham. They subsequently opened a branch in Camberley in 1935. The shop is still there although it was sold and became a Pet shop and later an Estate Agents.
During the Second World War Stanley was a sergeant in the R.A.S.C. in General Montgomery’s 21st Army Group, serving in France, Belgium and Germany and being mentioned in dispatches. Even then he found time to remain in office and attended meetings whenever he was home on leave. In 1945, after receiving serious facial injuries when the jeep in which he was travelling crashed, he was discharged. He spent some time in hospital while his face was being rebuilt.
Elected to the Town Council in 1931, Stanley, at the age of 24, had the distinction of being the youngest member. He also had the distinction of being Wokingham’s youngest Mayor and subsequently to have been the youngest person to have been elected Alderman. On Monday 2nd November 1981 he was presented with a scroll in commemoration of the dedication and service that he had given to the town for 50 years. The illuminated address stated that his history of voluntary involvement must be commended as an example of dedicated civic pride, service and responsibility.
At the beginning of his civic career, he was given a lecture by fellow Councillor, Alderman Priest, who said, “Bowyer, you have now been elected by the majority of the town to serve on the Council for a term of three years. At the end of the third year you will come before the public again for re-election. If they see fit, they will re-elect you for a further period of three years and, until that time, you will listen.”
In 1937 Stanley married Heripsime Chakirian (1907-1989) and had two sons: Michael (b. 1940) and Simon (b. 1942). A well-known and successful Wokingham businessman, Michael is managing Director of Michael Bowyer & Co. Ltd., Contractors Plant Hire Group. He is also founder member and trustee of the Bowyer Family Memorial Trust and was District President of the Wokingham Scouts from 1980 to 1985.
During Stanley’s first term as Mayor his sister, Elsie May, was Mayoress and they attended 441 engagements. In 1974 his Mayoress was Mrs Joan Foreman-Brown and they attended 389 engagements during their term of office.
Outside council duties, and apart from devoting his life to the corn merchants’ and pet trade, Stanley’s other interests and positions held include: vice-chairman of the Wescott Road Primary school Managers; trustee of the Wokingham United Charities and vice-chairman of their Almshouses Committee; membership of the Berkshire and Reading Fire Brigade Committee; British Legion of which he later became president of the Wokingham, Winnersh and Arborfield branches, vice-president of the Crowthorne branch and holder of the Legion’s Gold Medal; president of the Ascot, Bracknell and Wokingham Cage Bird Society; president of the Wokingham and Bracknell branches of the Naval Association and life vice-president of Wokingham and Bracknell Mentally Handicapped Association; member and advertiser of the Wokingham Agricultural Association.
Over the years Stanley made a few royal connections. Two crown princes of Luxembourg and Prince Bernard of the Netherlands were in his army unit; in 1978, he supplied dog food to Princess Anne and some years later, he met the Queen, Prince Philip and Princess Margaret.
He was made Honorary Townsperson of Wokingham, according to the official programme the presentation took place on January 30th 1973 together with Leonard Smalley--in recognition of his outstanding service to the Borough as a Councillor and Alderman for over 40 years and particularly as Mayor during the Year 1950/51 and the community.
Stanley died from a heart attack on Sunday, 31st July 1988 in the Dunedin Clinic, Reading at the age of 81. He was buried in All Saints Churchyard. His sister, Elsie May, who had served with him as Mayoress, joined him two years later.
Bowyer Crescent off Crutchley Road was named in his memory.
The first associated photograph shows Stanley Bowyer with chain, sat next to Leonard Clark, the Town Clerk.