Obituary - Oonagh Gabriel

This week we were sad to hear of the sudden death of Oonagh Gabriel, a long time member of South East Herts Beekeepers Association.

Oonagh never intended to take up beekeeping, but when one of her teenage sons got his own bees, she found herself frequently helping out and her passion for bees was ignited. Her son went on to become a bee farmer and still is today.

Not doing things by halves, Oonagh was soon learning all about beekeeping and in rapid succession completed all the BBKA written modules and earned herself a National Diploma in Beekeeping.

This was at a time when typewriters and duplicator machines were common place, but computers were just beginning to make their mark. Being forward thinking, Oonagh promptly signed up for and successfully completed an Open University Course in computing.

These skills and knowledge were put to use when she first became Secretary of South East Herts Beekeepers and then Secretary of Hertfordshire Beekeepers, the latter post of which she held for many years.

Oonagh was involved in the organisation and presentation of the Herts Beekeepers stand at the Herts County show on a number of occasions and would also exhibit at the now defunct Herts County Honey show. She won several prizes over a number of years, her wax blocks being a particular speciality.

As if getting involved at County level wasn’t enough Oonagh became a member of the BBKA Examinations Board and a Basic Assessment examiner.  

In the latter role, it is said that one rather nervous candidate turned up for her Basic Assessment, only for Oonagh to put her totally at ease before and during the assement which she then successfully completed. The candidate remarked that the experience had turned from being something that she wasn’t looking forward to, into being something she had really enjoyed and learnt so much from. This was because once Oonagh had understood the candidate knew the answer to the question posed, she would then discuss the topic further, sharing many of the things she had learnt over the years. She was still undertaking Basic Assessments as recently as last season.

This passion for sharing her knowledge of bees and beekeeping was evident across the County where she could often be heard giving talks on bee diseases and other bee related topics.

Oonagh was an inspiration to many in South East Herts Beekeepers Association and more latterly in the Bishops Stortford group. We are grateful for having had the opportunity to have known and shared experiences with this wonderful person.

Oonagh’s funeral is on Friday 30th September at 10:45am. Click the following link to the Herts County website for details.

Site last updated 17th November 2019