Vera Bowyer was born Vera Mary Small in Stirchley, Birmingham on 8th April 1926, she had a stable upbringing with a loving father and mother and was the eldest of three sisters. At the age of 13 at the outbreak of the Second World War, she was evacuated to Dursley in Gloucestershire where she had wonderful foster parents, who cared for her and her education.
On her return to Birmingham she went to Moseley Road Junior Art School. Inspired by her teachers in Birmingham and with an inventive talent for design, sculpture and drawing, she won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art. She entered the Sculpture School after the war, meeting William Bowyer, and they married in 1951 and settled in Chiswick. They lived in the same street for over sixty years, bringing up their three children Francis, Jason and Emma.
Vera taught for a few years and, as a highly talented Sculptor, she created many portrait heads and innovative personal projects. Her commissions included making dancing pigs in lard for the Ideal Home Exhibition and modelling a third life size horse in the small family kitchen. She even made the family bath, modelling it in clay, then casting it in glass fibre. She completed these and many other projects alongside looking after her children and her husband.
Vera suffered from depression while bringing up her young family; she sought and benefited from counselling for a number of years. At the age of fifty she found a creative role and independence for herself when she started to design toys in wood and textiles and created her own company "Vera Small Toys" in Shepherds Bush. Her son Francis became her business partner and they ran a successful toy workshop for twenty years.
Her toys brought joy to many children and adults throughout the world, selling through stores including Selfridges and Hamleys. A true British Designer who always helped and inspired others, she was a well-respected member of the British Toymakers Guild. Her toys featured on the BBC and at the Design Council and collectors included Sir Elton John and Countess Spencer.
It was in the early family years Vera first visited Walberswick. In 1959 after a painting trip to the Suffolk Coast by her husband William and a family friend, Fred Heyworth, they started to camp on Ted Thompsons field on the beach. They would camp every summer for the next ten years, for six weeks during the school holidays. Vera was famous for her expert packing of a large amount of luggage and camping gear into their Morris Traveller. She made driftwood tables, searched for carnelians and often had to hold down the family tent in a gale. She and her young family went to sleep listening to the sound of the waves.
Walberswick became their summer home, acquiring a caravan and then a house in Lodge Road. The Bowyer family have built a lasting bond with many locals in this special place. Vera, a quiet, assuring presence has looked on, enjoying the company of a few close friends, who she adored.
In the last twenty years after her retirement, she cared for William who was the love of her life. She concentrated on her garden, which was her joy and passion. She grew flowers and vegetables that won prizes at the village Horticultural show. She was encouraging, philosophical and inquisitive about life and active to the very end, surrounded by her adoring family.