Catsfield Remembered: On Saturday evening the Village Hall was filled with about sixty-five diners who had arrived to find tables decorated with red flowers, Union flags and poppy napkins. Silhouettes of soldiers were pinned around the walls and the stage looked stunning, a table covered with a large Union flag and set with two brass shell cases on either side holding red flowers and flags and six candles, labelled with each year of WWl and one for 2018 and hope for a peaceful future. To the right of the stage was a magnificent arrangement of poppies and other red flowers and on the left, thirty red ceramic poppies made by villagers, one for each of the fallen servicemen in both wars and one purple to commemorate all the animals that died.
Father Michael opened the proceedings by telling everyone what would be happening during the evening and talking about the momentous events that we were there to remember. Jane read the poem ‘On Flanders Fields’, Ann laid a poppy wreath on the stage in front of the table and a two-minute silence was observed.
The meal had been described as ‘Trench Rations’ and the packet of dried biscuits on a plate at each place at the tables made us wonder if that was it? However, a choice of delicious soups was served followed by ‘Maconchie stew’ of beef and vegetables, served in individual tinfoil ‘mess tins’. We were treated to individual apple crumbles and custard with tea or coffee to follow – a luxury that was probably not served at the front line and the whole meal was delicious, hot and very filling.
Father Michael entertained us to two amusing sketches from ‘The Wipers Times’ aided by John and then he led us all in a rousing sing-song of well-known old wartime songs accompanied by David on the piano. The raffle was drawn with several poppy-based prizes and the National Anthem was sung. Sandra went through a long list of people to thank for their help and Father Michael in turn, thanked her for all her hard work in organising yet another wonderful village event. The evening made an amazing profit of nearly £900 for church funds
Battle’s Over: On Sunday evening St Laurence Church was completely filled to capacity with people of all ages and it was particularly good to see many children from the village school, for a very special Service of Remembrance to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1, made particularly poignant this year because it also fell on the 11th November. Father Michael began the service by talking about the momentous events that happened all those years ago and the millions of men and women who gave their lives or were injured in battle. The display of ceramic poppies, named for each of the lost servicemen from the village stood in front of the pulpit and a swathe of poppies stood on a grassy bank outside the church. Two bible readings were read and two poems, one from WW1 and the second from the war in Afghanistan. Father Michael’s address talked about the events and people from all those years ago, naming some in particular who died at the Red Cross hospital at Normanhurst and are buried in the Catsfield churchyard. There were several patriotic hymns throughout the service and then the congregation turned to face the memorial at the back of the church for the Act of Remembrance. The names of the fallen from Catsfield were read out, followed by the Exhortation and a two-minute silence. Despite the size of the congregation and the many children of all ages who were present, there was not a sound heard in the church. The famous words from the Kohima Epitaph ended the silence and five wreaths were laid by representatives of the Parish Council, Church, WI, the School and the Catsfield Triangle Association. Then a final rousing hymn was followed by the National Anthem, after which everyone quickly and very quietly left the building to stand outside in silence as our contribution to the national initiative of a chain of beacons across the country at 7pm was lit. The Last Post was played as the beacon blazed away and was followed by Reveille and the joyful sound of the bells ringing out for peace. Fortunately, after a day of heavy downpours and strong winds, the evening stayed dry and everyone headed home feeling deeply moved by the reminders of the sacrifices made by the men and women of both wars to give us the peace and freedom that we enjoy today.
1st Ninfield Scouts: Today, Friday 16th November in Catsfield Village Hall the 1st Ninfield Scouts will be holding their AGM. This will be followed by the Grand Autumn Raffle and the 1st Ninfield Explorers will be having a Charity Race Night with all bets £1. No tickets are required, but it would be appreciated if you would notify Dick Creasey on 07970559226 or Carol Hodgson on 07967116972 if you are coming. Refreshments, snacks and hot dogs will be on sale and doors open at 6.15pm. Join them for a fun night out and support the local Scouts.
Christmas Market: The St Laurence Church Christmas Market will be held next Saturday 24th November in the Village Hall from 10am – 2pm, entrance 50pm, children free. There will be all the usual lovely stalls – plants, cakes, books, tombola, gifts, bathroom stall, raffle and Christmas fayre. This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for St Laurence Church so do come along and bring your friends to buy Christmas gifts and enjoy coffee or tea, cakes and lunches and support our village church. Donations of homemade cakes, raffle prizes and items for all the stalls are needed please, contact Jane on 01424 893431.
Cub reporter Ann Davey writes: A special thank you to V.V’s chief reporter Jill Woods and her husband Tony for the inspiration behind the making and displaying of over 100 ceramic poppies. This caused an enormous amount of logistical planning and sheer hard work enabling the display to be erected first on Saturday at the Village Hall and then in the Church and Churchyard on Sunday, it was great fun in the long, wet grass in the dark. They looked spectacular and were enjoyed by the potters and congregation. Thank you, Jill.
(Footnote from JW – none of this would have happened so smoothly if it hadn’t been for the support, encouragement and considerable help from ‘our Cub Reporter’ and her Groundsman husband, thank you both very much.)
No records exist, but the Village Hall Committee are sure any celebrations commemorating the Armistice in 1918 would have taken place in our Hall, which had already been up and running for 20 years and in this spirit, have been pleased to waive the hiring charge for Saturday’s highly successful occasion.
Sadly, no records exist as to whether village sport was possible during the war years, but I imagine that aspect of village life would have been suspended. How sad it must have been when they started up again with so many players never to return. Catsfield were only able to draw 2 - 2 on Saturday, but as usual spirits are high and we hope for better things tomorrow when we play Peche Hill at Tilekiln. Fortunately, the groundsman hasn’t found his boots, but he has been rather busy ferrying some very precious and fragile poppies around. Ah, the joy of telling him what to do.
Autumn: I’m sure that everyone has noticed the wonderful autumn colours that seem to have appeared suddenly this week and have looked so spectacular, especially when the sun has been shining upon them. In spite of the torrential rain and strong winds over the weekend, even today (Monday) the lanes still look beautiful.