THE MOST exotic resident ever to live in Holmfirth is to be remembered in a folk song.
Fenella, a former circus tiger, lived in Holmfirth from 1939 until her death in 1950.
The tigress, which lived at Nabb School, (now Holmfirth JI School) was acquired as a cub by the Overend family at the outbreak of World War Two.
Now the big cat has been immortalised in a collaboration between local folk musician Roger Davies, Holme Valley Sharing Memories group and two Holmfirth schools.
Children involved in the project have this week been practising the song and making tiger masks.
The song will be performed by Holmfirth JI School, Upperthong JI School and members of Holme Valley Sharing Memories, at Holmfirth Festival of Folk, on May 12 (from 2 to 3pm) at Holmfirth Parish Church.
Mr Davies, Sharing Memories and Holmfirth High School have also been writing words and music for a collection of Holme Valley-themed songs which will also be debuted at the free event.
Holme Valley Sharing Memories aims to provide nostalgic activities for older people at risk of being isolated.
Project manager Sally Brown said: “The project has been fantastic. We have been able to take people’s memories of growing up, living and working in the Holme Valley and put those experiences into songs which we can share with the younger generation.”
Fenella was owned by the Overends, a circus family who adopted Fenella during a tour of South Africa in 1939.
The tigress was often seen walking around the town on a lead and was popular with the townsfolk who liked to pet her.
Fenella went on tour briefly in circuses and theatres across Britain.
One misty morning a pair of walkers got a shock when Fenella leapt over a wall next to them.
Kassie Overend, now in her 90s, remembers caring for Fenella.
She said: “Having Fenella was a wonderful experience although it was quite a tie as we couldn’t just go out and leave her on her own.”
For more about Fenella, including photos of her, visit: www.myyorkshire.org and search for “holmfirth tiger”.
For more information or to purchase a CD of the songs call Sally on 01484 683756.