Jill Jarrett

Henley Down Cottage

On Sunday July 14 there will be a ‘topping out’ ceremony to celebrate the completion of the repairs to the shingles on the tower at the parish church of St Laurence and the new flag weather vane at the top. The cockerel that sat on the top of the tower for very many years was damaged in the gales of 2012, which also weakened the tower itself and meant that the cockerel was too heavy to be returned to its place aloft. After careful study of old photographs, it was decided to replace the cockerel with a replica of the flag that used to stand in its place on the tower and this will be revealed on Sunday. The ceremony will take place at 10.15am following the morning service and everyone is welcome to attend.

That afternoon, the latest fundraising event for the parish church of St Laurence takes place at 2.30pm and will be the Family Fun Sponsored Stroll around the outskirts of Battle town. It will start from Gaynes Cottage, Netherfield Road, Battle TN33 0HL and will cover an approximate distance of three miles, ending up back at Gaynes Cottage for refreshments. On September 7th the next church fundraising event will be a quiz night to be held in the Village Hall.

At the WI meeting last Thursday each member was given a copy of the new leaflet, which is full of information about the Catsfield branch of the Women’s Institute and will be included in the welcome pack given to new residents in the village. Members were given many notices of forthcoming activities and outings and the winners of last month’s fun flower and produce show were announced as first Ann Clegg: second Victoria Crawshaw: third Jane Overall. There had been a large number of entries and the competition was keen, so the winners did exceptionally well to beat the rest!

After the business matters, the speaker was Judith Kinnison Bourke who told members, in character, about the life of Elsie Bowerman, Survivor of the Titanic and what a tale she had to tell! We heard of Elsie’s early years in the 1890s, living with her parents in Hastings before being sent as a boarder aged 11 to Wycombe Abbey School, where she excelled in sports – especially rowing, which stood her in good stead in later years! She studied at university and took a keen interest in the Suffragette movement, she was an active member and was encouraged by her mother.

In April 1915 she and her mother bought first class tickets costing £55 each and set sail on board the Titanic to visit her father’s family in America. We were given much detail of life on board the doomed ship and we heard how, as first class passengers, when the ship hit the iceberg, Elsie and her mother were fortunate to be lowered into the sea in a lifeboat loaded with other women and children, but with only three crew members to help them – this is when Elsie’s rowing expertise became useful. The ship sank into the depths of the ocean and after enduring a freezing night of complete darkness drifting amongst icebergs, they saw the Carpathia in the distance and rowed with all their strength to be rescued. Eventually they landed in New York on April 18.

Following her return to England, she did great work during the First World War and was in St Petersburg, where she witnessed the Russian Revolution at first hand. After the war Elsie continued with her campaign for women’s rights. She studied law and became the first woman barrister at the Old Bailey. She worked for the Ministry of Information and also the BBC and later helped to set up the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Eventually she moved back to Sussex and lived a peaceful life in Cowbeech until her death – an enthralling story of a remarkable woman. After that inspiring tale and a vote of thanks to our speaker, a delicious tea awaited us and the drawing of the raffle and the Catsfield 100 Club.

Catsfield had a good game of cricket on Sunday against Bexhill, despite only being able to field ten players. Bexhill got 164 for 6 with our best bowlers (out of seven used) being Nick Gurr 2 for 18 and Tony Taylor 2 for 33. Out of Catsfield’s batsmen, Nick Gurr again starred with 45 not out and athletic wicket keeper Sean Tottman 47 not out. Connor Earl was the next highest scorer with 24 runs and although didn’t get any wickets, he took two catches. Catsfield finished with 163 for 7 and lost by four wickets. Keith Cook was the captain, Chris Cook did the teas and Barbara Cook was our faithful scorer - what would we do without the Cook Family? There is no match this weekend, but have a double header away to Southbourne on the July 20 and home to Crowhurst on the 21st.

Our mixed stoolball team beat Civil Service at home on July 4 and they play Staplecross away on July 25.