Tributes paid to talented, kind and renowned carver

Lawrence Cairns
Lawrence Cairns

A well-respected woodcarver, who was born and raised in Alnwick, has died, aged 74.

Laurance Cairns passed away peacefully on July 30. He has been described by his family and friends as a kind, gentle, honest, talented man who had an impact on many lives.

Born in Alnwick in 1942, he was the youngest of 11 children. He graduated from university in London with Honours in electrical engineering.

This led to his appointment as an engineer in Nairobi, Kenya. He was invited to take tea with then-Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta. He also had an encounter with an aggressive rhinoceros while trying to fix his Land Rover.

Returning to London in the 1970s, he lived with partner Jane and hers sons Daniel and Paul. He began making longbows as a hobby, which progressed to carving panels and figures.

In the early 1980s, Laurance fulfilled a life-long ambition to embark on a motorcycle trip across the American Midwest, before going to Yorkshire where he began carving full-time.

His work can be found in churches and nature walks across the area and are treasured in many private homes.

After the hurricane of 1987, Laurance asked permission to clear the fallen timber from the grounds of Sewerby Hall Museum. In return, he presented the museum with a carving of a unicorn, which stands in the boardroom.

Laurance built and maintained a large vegetable garden, orchard and archery range, tended a variety of livestock and planted the woods in which he is now laid to rest in Driffield, East Riding of Yorkshire. His carvings are in every nook and cranny of his home and surrounding land.

Despite his life being full of extraordinary achievements and experiences, he remained modest and reticent.