A ‘Thank You’ to Eva Koch

Today is the last day of my six-week stay at Woodbrooke Quaker study centre for my Eva Koch scholarship.

It has been an amazing and privileged journey to be a research scholar here. I have worked alongside three other wonderful Eva Koch scholars, all with their own special areas of interest. We have (nearly!) completed our studies and done presentations of our work at an open meeting for those who were interested.

It has felt good to be part of the community here: to see people come and go as courses finished and new ones started; to meet people simply staying for a nights B&B because of a work commitment or family wedding nearby; to get to know some of the staff and tutors a little better.

Just before I came, I was offered a new job and thought that I would be returning home to the world of employed work again. Then the job offer was withdrawn because of a disagreement between Human Resources and the appointing officer about what constituted an ‘or equivalent’ qualification. I found myself wrong-footed and a bit rudderless, and have tried to use my time here to reflect, and to discern the way forward. I know this is still something I need to ‘sit with’, especially given my father’s increasing needs.

While I was here I read a wonderful book by Verena Schiller called: A Simplified Life: A contemporary hermit’s experience of solitude and silence. Of all the multitude of books that I have read since starting my studies, this has spoken to me most clearly. Verena writes of her life as a hermit in a small cabin on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales. She describes, with a huge depth of humanity and spirituality, her lifestyle, the landscape around her, and the draw of the islands and coastline to monks and hermits across the ages. It is a deeply evocative book, as well as a deeply human one.

It was not Verena’s isolated life as a hermit that spoke to me – though I often have wishful visions of a tiny place somewhere beautiful and away from things – but the fact that she was able to wait for the leadings she was given to crystallize and become clear. I am an impatient person who tends to move back into my ‘thinking’ head-space when I should be waiting with God for the clarity that will come if only I would make time. Time and simplicity – my Eva Koch study area – go hand in hand I have found.

Simplicity is a deeply complicated area. If you are interested in my work there will be a series of six articles in The Friend starting in early October, and later on the Woodbrooke blog. I will also be sharing a piece of artwork that derived from the many beautiful words and meanings that simplicity had for the people I interviewed as part of my research; they were so rich and varied that I felt I could not simply represent them in writing. In the meantime, a big ‘Thank You’ to our tutors and the staff and guests at Woodbrooke, and to my fellow Eva Koch scholars – Rhiannon, Jane, and Joycelin (who couldn’t be there for the photo) – it has been wonderful getting to know you and working alongside you.

annedegruchy.co.uk image: Eva Koch scholars 2016


Just doing this! Just applying and going for six weeks of immersive Quakerly research!!


Actually being here at Woodbrooke and the deep, rich seams that have emerged from my work and the interviews I conducted.

© Anne de Gruchy

8 thoughts on “A ‘Thank You’ to Eva Koch

  1. Thank you, Anne, it is very evident that you have had an enriching and stimulating experience. The book that you mention by Verena Schiller sounds very interesting. Increasingly, I find that the simple pleasures, to be found in the nature around us, are often the most satisfying and wonderful.
    We have just had over two weeks with some of our grandchildren, without their parents. Two teenagers in the Lakes and two younger ones in Devon. What has given me great pleasure has been the increasing independence of the older ones in the mountains and the pleasure of the younger ones in doing art, encouraged by John, and listening to stories, like The Ironman, although they are both very competent readers. It has been a demanding but very enjoyable time.
    I hope that some satisfying employment comes your way soon.
    All the very best


    • Thank you, Sila. I do remember you and wish you every success with your own application. It was an inspirational time for me and continues to throw up new treasures. Anne


      • Dear Anne I was so pleased that you remembered me. not only did I love WB but I did enjoy your presentation in the Cadbury room, it was of great interest to me. Could you give me any advice on the Koch Scholarship and about Eva, I know very little about her. I do know there is a room named after her
        . In Friendship


      • Hello again, Sila.

        To my shame, I’m probably not going to be able to provide you with a lot of information about Eva – there used to be a lovely biography on the Woodbrooke website but they’ve updated the website and I cannot find it now to send a link. She was involved with Nottingham Meeting (where I used to go, but before my time) and some Friends there remember her and Hugh Lawson, who she married later in life. (Hugh’s obituary is here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/obituary-hugh-lawson-1262661.html). I’ve emailed Woodbrooke to see if they can provide some information. My advice about the scholarship itself is: apply to do what you feel passionate about, and play to your strengths in the ‘outcomes’ you hope to achieve – eg I did blog posts and workshops which are things I have experience of and knew I could deliver on. There is good tutor support during the scholarship, but wasn’t a great deal available in help to get things published or produced – you need to think what is achievable for you. Subject wise – I’ve no idea how they discern the right ones to pick when they award the scholarships – I’m sure if you listen to that ‘God-voice’ in your own life about what you’re drawn to, then you can discern whether it’s right to apply and what to study. Good luck! Anne


      • Hello again, Sila.
        Further to my previous response – I now have an email from Woodbrooke about next years’ scholarships which I can forward to you if you supply me with an email address – you could do it through the contact form on my website if you want this to remain private, or you can email me direct at: anne@annedegruchy.co.uk.


  2. Hello Anne, thank you for the info you supplied me with on Hugh Lawson. Searching through all my Quaker “bumpf” I did manage to find a little more about Eva. I might just contact FH they may be able to supply more info. I am still thinking about my topic, your advice is very helpful. The peace thing has been done to death. Give that a miss! Sila

    Liked by 1 person

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