Unity Hield

A celebration for a life lived to the full


The Church of St. John the Baptist was filled to overflowing on 14 May 2019 for the Service of Celebration for the Life of Unity Sylvia Hield.. She died on 28 April 2019.

Over 160 mourners, many wearing a splash of colour to acknowledge Unity’s love of colour and art, were present to hear reflections on Unity’s life, 60 years of which was spent in Bishop Monkton.The Church was appropriately and beautifully decked with wild flowers, some picked from Unity’s own garden. It was just what she would have wanted!

After the death of her beloved husband, Michael, Unity created an art gallery in her garden in his memory and this became a focal point of cultural life in the village, with regular exhibitions of the work of local and national artists and sculptors, and sometimes including work of her own.

She was, of course, a distinguished and accomplished artist and sculptor herself working in a studio she created in one of her outbuildings, where she also gave classes to aspiring local artists.

Another of Unity's preoccupations was a love of all animal life. She always had one or two dogs, latterly the well-loved 11 year old collie, Chester. She also had a fine collection of swans and ducks on a lake in her garden which gave her great pleasure. In fact she loved all creatures great and small.

Her love of wildlife and her skill at painting and sculpture came together when she sculpted animal figures which she then sold to realise funds for the Whitley Fund for Nature.Last year she produced a magnificent bronze bear which she donated to raise funds for the Whitley Fund and attended a high profile auction in London attended by David Attenborough when the bear realised £6,000.

The service, led by The Rev. Sheila Murray, included  a finely chosen mix of hymns, readings,music and prayers which all perfectly befitted the occasion and which Unity would have loved herself.

Everyone present knew that, with her passing, they had lost a wonderfully kind and dear friend, the like of whom will be hard if not be impossible to replace.

The service ended  fittingly with a moving rendition of Gabriel Faure's 'In Paradisum'.sung by 'Yorkshire Voices'.A retiring collection will be shared between 

The Church of St. John the Baptist and The Whitley Fund for Nature, two charities close to Unity’s heart.

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