Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Mableson
It was dry and relatively warm this afternoon when Cocking gave Lord and Lady Cowdray a warm welcome on their arrival to open the new Village Hall.
A large crowd had gathered outside and they had plenty of time to discuss the new building and explore its facilities as the ceremony was a little late starting. Frances Russell, Chair of Cocking Parish Council, thanked the many organisations and individuals who had helped make the project a reality including donors, the builders and the village as a whole.
The Reverend Canon Dr. Colin Bradley led prayers, remembering Ann Hauffe; a sad loss to her family and the village. He then blessed the Hall before Lady Cowdray finally cut the ribbon across the door allowing villagers to officially cross the threshold and start enjoying their new Village Hall. A splendid tea followed and the crowd had another chance to admire some of the features and facilities. Amongst many, visitors admired the new kitchen, a beautifully embroidered map of Cocking made and donated by Sally Cooke and a black and white photograph of villagers celebrating a birthday party in a former Village Hall, circa 1951.
Many of those attending had left their cars in the new car park that easily coped with over 30 vehicles on the day. Returning to leave, it was poignant to see the immense bonfire in the Sports Field. This was bigger than ever, made as it was from the timbers of the old hut that used to stand on the Village Hall Site.
A smiling Frances Russell is obviously pleased with proceedings. Lady Cowdray can be seen, equally enjoying the moment and clutching the bouquet of flowers that had just been presented to her.
The old hut - now just a memory - and the basis for a huge bonfire.