Celebrating the life and work of a much-loved father and talented local wordsmith

Co-founder of Pickering - Polly Taylor

Our Dad Ted died on my birthday (April 14), ten years ago. I consider it a blessing that he chose the day, waiting for my American step-daughter to arrive at the hospital, before he left this world.

He was a poet, and my brother and I have brought together a collection of his published poems in his memory: Echoes of Orion.

We used to visit Tunbridge Wells, from where we lived in Chelsfield, as children. Ted ran a creative writing group in the town, and there are still many here that knew him.

We still miss our dad very much. Not just the immediate family, but those who were in his wider creative family too. And yet, at the same time the book my brother and I have put together is a celebration. It’s for all those poems he wrote during our lifetimes, which some of us witnessed as he put pen to paper on holidays, in his study, in class, or even in a quiet spell at work.

We held the launch of Echoes of Orion last weekend (on Saturday April 23) and were delighted that established and inspiring poet, Roger Garfitt, was kind enough to write a foreword for the collection.

Here’s a quote from it: “The Welsh have a term, the gwerin, literally ‘the folk’, that they use particularly for those who keep the culture alive through thick and thin. Ted Walter may well have known this term because in one of his first poems he celebrates the slate miners who ‘cabanned’ in their meetinghouse: ‘… talked philosophy and quoted poets here, by candlelight, each group of quarrymen at rest.’


Steve Walter



Ted grew up on a council estate in Swanley, Kent, with lots of books of philosophy on his father’s shelf. Among them was Huxley’s Lectures & Lay Sermons, whose geological perspective became central to our father’s poetry. He balanced that perspective with a deep religious belief and some of his poems in a church setting have a freshness that is quite remarkable.

The two visions of the world, the scientific and the religious, come together in one of his finest poems, ‘Gaia’, which begins with the hill holding its breath on a morning of frost and snow as though astonished by its own splendour and ends with the following: ‘So pure a bride deserves such tenderness. With the sun’s light touch fine snow dissolves. Hedgerows gleam and into waiting silence falls the whisper of her first undressing.’

‘Shoreham’ catches the essence of his parents’ marriage in a lovely short lyric while ‘Swanley’ recreates ‘Council house gardens, / each a small-holding, neighbours prodigal with plants,’ a sense of community he carried right through to ‘Wednesday Butterfly’, an astonishing poem that conjures up a neighbour’s caring presence during the Blitz on hearing of his death decades later.

Ted’s father died in a motorcycle accident in 1949 and six years later in 1955 Ted joined the Metropolitan Police, having been in Korea and Japan towards the end of the Korean war. He was famously a ‘Policeman Poet’ and appeared on Nationwide television in uniform, in 1976, being questioned by Sue Lawley as to what he was first: a policeman or a poet.

In 1977 he started tutoring an adult education class for the WEA in Writing for Pleasure, in Sevenoaks and then had a creative writing class in Tunbridge Wells. He also became a prolific poet in schools.

In 2006, following treatment at St Thomas’ Hospital, he produced the pamphlet collection, Promptings of Saint Thomas, to raise funds for the hospital’s Cancer Care Unit. The poems were as he said all written during “those interesting seven weeks” of treatment.

Ted was married to Hazel, his artist wife, had two sons, three grandsons and an American step-granddaughter. And now great grandsons too.

If you would like a copy of Echoes of Orion, (£14.99) please email Steve Walter: steve@makingconnectionsmatter.org




“The idea of this new exhibition is to celebrate artistic expression for the beauty and fragility of the earth…”

Steve Walter is also a volunteer of the Friends of the Earth Tunbridge Wells branch. Here he talks about the forthcoming show #TunWellsFOEArt at Trinity which will feature poems, paintings and writings in support of the planet and in response to the urgency of climate change:

“We’re drawing together a variety of artworks from local people who have created many photographs, paintings, drawings, sculpture and poems. Most have been submitted over the last year or so, to mark the climate and ecological emergency and to also celebrate all that is nature.

The exhibition contains works from artists of all ages; entry is open to anyone and is not limited to being a member of Friends of the Earth. Everyone is welcome to atttend.

“The works of art are in support of planet Earth and in response to the urgency of climate change. This concern, this care for the planet, is real and profound…the idea of the exhibition is to acknowledge and celebrate artistic expression for the beauty and fragility of the earth and the vulnerability of life in the face of ecocide and climate change.”

The #TunWellsFOEArt exhibition runs from Saturday April 30 until Thursday May 12. There will be a private viewing, by invitation, on Friday April 29. If interested RSVP to tunwellsfoe@gmail.com

Some of the works of art can be viewed at www.tunwellsfoe.co.uk/tunwellsfoeart


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