Archive for March, 2019

Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Society held its 20th Annual General Meeting in Foxearth Village Hall on 12th March 2019. There were 28 members and guests present’

Chairlady Lynda Rumble welcomed all  especially Mr Slater,  Web site administrator for the Melford History and Archaeological Society.

A financial report was presented by Secretary Clare Mathieson showing a very satisfactory surplus of £420 in last year’s activities and a bank balance of £2,500 of which £986 was the “ring-fenced” book fund. A grant of £250 from the Foxearth and Liston Parish Council was gratefully acknowledged. It was agreed that membership and guest fees should remain at £10 pa and £2 per visit respectively and Mark Mathieson was thanked for keeping the books. Clare reviewed a successful season in 2018 and outlined an attractive programme for this year; highlights would include a visit to the Stow Maries Great War  aerodrome, including lunch in the officers’ mess: also  President Ashley Cooper and Lord Phillips reviewing their  memories of Sudbury Market Hill and businesses around.(full programme available on

Thanks to all members who helped by writing reports, providing refreshment, setting up the room and managing the web site were voiced by Ashley. Particular mention was made of Lynda and Clare who run the Society so expertly. On the question (by Clare) of whether we needed a larger committee the unanimous view seemed to be not to change a winning team – and a substitute’s bench would be superfluous! Ashley expressed his delight at the vibrancy of the Society citing members’ contributions such as John Geddes’ research into Foxearth burials, Corinne Cox’s archaeological test pit excavations and Isobel Clark’s gravestone researches.

Andrew Clarke spoke about our constantly growing web site – with new material offered as he spoke – and noted that it was admired world-wide attracting about 2,800 visits each day.

After a break for wine and some delicious canapes past Chairman  Alan Fitch entertained us with reflections on his life so far. Born in pre-war London Alan experienced some family difficulties. A move towards Epping Forest just before war started  fired up an interest in climbing trees – without mishap. This facility later served him well when he had a sign making business for 40 years and never lost his footing on a ladder; he saved that for after he had retired! Evacuation to Buckinghamshire during the conflict saw him (aged seven) fishing and  – under the influence of a very much older colleague -smoking a pipe to deter midges.After Walthamstow Technical College Alan worked for a time at a division of J Arthur Rank where he was fortunate to meet such celebrities as Edmundo Ros and the boxer Freddie Mills and it was here that a fascination with cinematic technology developed. Called up for National Service  Alan opted for the Royal Air Force signing for 4 years on the promise that he could follow his interest in mechanical engineering. He became a crack rifle shot, He met the love of his life, Jo, they married in 1958 and were blissfully happy until she sadly died. Alan later married again and this wife encouraged him to practise faith healing – a talent he had not discovered! And this is the point at which the narrative ended. Surely, Alan, there’s more to come – at least another instalment. We wait with bated breath as an appreciative audience demonstrated.

Next meeting: Tuesday 9th April 7.30pm in Foxearth Village Hall when Robyn Lloyd-Hughes will talk about The rise and decline of the  Stour Valley Railways.


Foxearth and Liston Parish Council Meeting – 2nd March 2019

The Council met on 2nd March 2019 with Cllr. Tony Clayton in the Chair. There were 13 members of the public present.

Chairman’s comments: The Chairman confirmed that the closure of Rodbridge for most of March for repairs would be on a 24 hour basis and not just for the hours that work was being done as some signs misleadingly suggested.

Stafford Park: It was reported that a planning application would be considered by Braintree District Council on 19th March. The Chairman summarised the comments against the development previously submitted by the Council and these were agreed as being still applicable. They were that the traffic plan was flawed as there is no public transport, a majority of local residents are opposed to the development, local schools and other services could not cope with the influx that 100 extra dwellings would bring, no account is taken of the countryside and the area does not fall within the definition of a brown field site. Asked by the Chairman whether he wished to comment on these points Mr McPherson said that he could but he would prefer to answer any questions. There were none. A comment was made from the floor that three major developments in Long Melford had impacted upon schools and doctors’ surgeries.

Braintree District Council report:  District Councillor Iona Parker outlined various issues mentioning in particular that Council Tax was likely to be increased, the councillor individual grant scheme would continue and garden waste collections had resumed. Initiatives included “Help for the High St”, a Jobs Fair, police emphasis on road safety and more public involvement in planning.

Handy(wo)man: The Clerk agreed to make an application from the EALC Local Services Fund for £15,000 over three years for handyperson services.

Local traffic issues:  Cllr. Posen suggested the setting up of a working party – to include local representatives – to look at traffic issues in the two villages. This was agreed.

Broadband; Cllr Posen understood that County Broadband’s fibre installation was proceeding and that B.T intended to upgrade their system to fast (their definition) in 2019.

Footpaths: Cllr. Robson reported that he had put “no horses” signs in appropriate spots. In relation to any handyperson service it was important to co-ordinate any maintenance, e.g. hedgerow cutting,with local authority services.

Next meeting:   Saturday 25th May 2019 9.45am in Foxearth Village Hall. This will be the Annual Meeting of Electors to be followed by the Parish Council AGM

Ken Nice

Vivienne Norah Hastie 1928 – 2019

Just three and a half months after we paid our final respects to her husband Jim, we assembled again at the West Suffolk Crematorium on 27th February to celebrate the life of Vivienne who died on 19th January 2019. Thus ended a 66-year association with Foxearth village for this well-known and greatly respected couple. An affectionate eulogy compiled by the family was read at the service.

Vivienne was born in December 1928 in Glemsford to Ethel and Walter Brown: she was their fourth and final child with brothers Henry (usually known as Harry), Clifford and sister Eva. She often recalled to her family walking to her primary school with its Victorian stove and describing the friends she made – a very early one being Molly who stayed in touch for 85 years to share many birthdays and visits. Other memories from those days were the amount of walking and cycling that had to be done and the worry that her mother felt when Clifford joined the Royal Air Force and the relief when the war ended and he resumed civilian life. Vivienne played her part in the war effort by knitting socks for soldiers. Marriage to Jim took place at Glemsford church in September 1953 and a long and rewarding life together was marked by a 65th anniversary last year. Moving to Huntsmans after their wedding Vivienne quickly became immersed in village life. She attended Foxearth church every Sunday and helped with cleaning and flower arranging and she delivered the Parish News by bicycle. To the delight of the couple daughters Judith and June duly arrived. In addition to caring for her family Vivienne’s particular strengths were careful housekeeping and an ever cheerful approach to hard work and economy: qualities which Jim shared. As Jim often worked long days on the farm during harvest time Vivienne decided that learning to drive would make life a bit easier and  Jim’s limitations as an instructor were no deterrent! Vivienne’s patience won and she eventually taught her daughters to drive. Living on the outskirts of the village could have been lonely but Vivienne was a true countrywoman joining in so many activities. She collected for Cancer Research and the British Legion Poppy Appeal , was an active member of the Over 60s Club and the Women’s Institute taking Scottish country dancing, baking, dress and hat making, preserves, trips and outings all in her stride. If elderly neighbours needed a helping hand Vivienne was there for them. Fetes, coffee mornings, bring and buy sales etc. all benefitted from her willingness to help. She was also captain of the WI darts team – and not a lot of us knew that! In due course grandchildren came along which meant meeting Simon and Rebecca from school and visiting Anna, Lucy and Charlie where they lived in France. Vivienne was a hands-on grandmother, never too busy to baby-sit, give cooking lessons, knit jumpers and a multitude of other helpful tasks. Until old age made it difficult Vivienne was a regular borrower at the fortnightly (now, alas, less frequent) library van where we would always have a chat about local issues.

It was entirely fitting that at the end of the service a recording of Jerusalem by Voices of the WI was played. Vivienne was widely admired for her cheerful personality, her sense of community and her commitment to village life She passed away peacefully and  will be  missed  but fondly remembered by all who had the good fortune to meet her .

Ken Nice