Chas Bamford was born into a Staffordshire farm machinery manufacturing family and descended on his mother’ side from Northumbrian sailors and musicians. At university in Birmingham he met Elisabeth Trehearne, who shared his interest in community and art, and they met Camphill for the first time in Stourbridge.
At the age of twenty-four, Chas and Elisabeth made the life-defining step of joining The Sheiling Community, Ringwood. Chas joined the Curative Education Seminar, working with children with special needs beginning a life-long engagement with Anthroposophy and later eurythmy studies in the Eurythmeum, Stuttgart.
In 1980 the Bamfords moved to Botton where Chas became a much loved housefather and a teacher remembered by his students for his lightness, kindness, humour, encouragement and exactness. Three boys were born to the family, Daniel, Francis and Chris who he enjoyed scrambling with along cliffs and climbing trees, and indulged with wild wet weather walks, wind surfing and mountain biking. He would draw huge Celtic labyrinths on sandy beaches for the family to run around and watch as the sea washed it all away.
At the Sheiling Chas taught first and second year students and in Botton the third and fourth years, often driving home from Botton to Ringwood on a Friday night to spend the weekend with the family and help run a Camphill household, with children or adults with special needs. Chas was the best washer-upper – outside of Switzerland – ever!
The Bamfords moved to Delrow in 2005. While there Chas enabled a young woman suffering from mental health difficulties to become the editor of the remarkable Delrow Digest. He helped lay out the publication beautifully, together creating a high-quality colourful monthly that was widely enjoyed, with joyful, reverential and sometimes gently anarchic content that attracted praise from around the world.
As a house coordinator he had great empathy and respect for the residents. They loved him and enjoyed his gentle teasing making them feel safe and gain confidence, empowering them to new experiences. He enriched Delrow’s cultural life and festivals with eurythmy, singing and art exhibitions and brought beauty into the community, through his own being and through his projects.
Chas was an outstanding eurythmist who created light and space in his movement. He had dignity, and grace, speed and precision, and an incredible range of possibilities. His eurythmy forms were always beautiful, and he was a kind, encouraging, clear, and inspiring director.
He was a community builder, who inspired many, including many young people. He ennobled social life through art, bringing colour, movement and beauty, re- vealing the invisible and bringing eurythmy to the world.
As a member of the finance group and while completing a statutory management qualification, he oversaw the community finances scrupulously and uniquely enabled surplus funds to be returned annually to CVT, and through his work and example he inspired in particular many young people. There was a high standard in all that he did and he expected the same of others, yet he was modest and brotherly. His grounding in Anthroposophy helped him to bring the ideals of Truth, Beauty and Goodness into the world, through community living and artistic activity.
Many, many messages of appreciation sent by friends, students and colleagues after his passing speak repeatedly of his charm, tact and youthful humour.
But Chas’s high expectations of himself and others made him vulnerable, and his lightness of being and trust in others meant that he could be deeply hurt if he felt misunderstood, or by what he felt was injustice.
2014 saw the beginnings of the time of great difficulty for Delrow and the other Camphill villages within the Camphill Village Trust (CVT) . Chas, among others, welcomed the new management and was happy to forge a future with them. But he and Elisabeth, as with many other longstanding dedicated Camphillers immediately before them and too many after them, became life casualties of the new regime.
They were suddenly made to leave Delrow and became homeless for some months, their situation ameliorated by friends, their own children and borrowed accommodation. While they were away, their possessions were ransacked and many personal documents disappeared. The investigation into Chas’s conduct found no wrong doing and the case was casually dropped four months later. , Chas was shocked and deeply hurt by the actions towards him and Elisabeth by a charity they had dedicated their lives to. His health suffered. This was not CVT’s finest hour.
Eventually Chas and Elisabeth moved to Stroud to build a new life where Chas enjoyed celebrating the arrival of their three grandchildren, renovating their new home, establishing new eurythmy activities, editing the Eurythmy Association Newsletter and directing the eurythmy in Rudolf Steiner’s third Mystery Drama. As a eurythmist who created light and space in himovement, he had dignity, grace, speed, balance and precision and was a kind, encouraging, clear, and inspiring director ennobling social life through art, bringing colour, movement, beauty and grace to the world. His performance as Ariel in a performance of The Tempest was a joy to all that witnessed it.
Chas died suddenly and unexpectedly at home on December 9th. He was sixty-four. But he continues to inspire, living on in his creative work, in the heart of his family, friends and all who knew and loved him.