Obituary: Yvonne Young (UoG Graduate and co-founder of Illman Young)


Yvonne was born in Lions River, Natal, South Africa. She excelled in botany and drawing and had aspirations to be a botanist but settled on architecture.  At 16 she began her degree at the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg. After graduation she settled in Durban and began her architectural career.  In 1952 she returned to Durban and married John Young in 1954. Following the birth of two children they decided to emigrate in 1959, finally settling in London in 1960.

In 1963 she began working for RMJM on the masterplan for the University of York campus, where her interest in landscape was ignited, setting up an ambition to study landscape architecture.  Finally, having waited until her youngest daughter finished studying at University, Yvonne took early retirement and enrolled as an undergraduate student at the Gloucester College of Art and Design to study landscape architecture.  Readily accepted by the younger students, she relished the challenge of the course, successfully completing both the BA and Graduate Diploma.

Yvonne embarked on a new career, working briefly for Mary Mitchell in Birmingham, before joining Dyer Associates in Cheltenham, where she mixed landscape and architecture.  Moving to the CEGB and working in association with Peter Youngman PPILA on a number of projects, she finally took on the role of a full-time landscape architect.

Yvonne could also be a surprisingly intrepid individual both in her personal and business life, travelling to Peru in the early 1990s and on the Orient Express from Samarkand to Tashkent some years later.  In business, few would agree to join a fledgling landscape practice at the age of 62, but she did so in 1987 forming Illman Young Landscape Design with Sue Illman.  This was both a successful partnership and friendship that flourished irrespective of their difference in age.

Retirement held little appeal for Yvonne, but she was encouraged to wind down a little in her early 70s by studying the Historic Landscape Conservation course at the Architectural Association and gaining a further

Post-grad Diploma; an interesting challenge for a modernist architect to undertake.  However, this stood her in good stead in her role as a member of the Cheltenham Architecture Panel and a Committee member of the Gloucestershire Gardens and Landscape Trust.

Yvonne will be fondly remembered by friends and colleagues alike for her gentle sense of humour, elegance, immaculate dress, quiet air of authority and her sometimes unexpected ability to speak her mind.

About gloscape

Landscape Architecture @ University of Gloucestershire

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