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The Fernhurst Society

Memories of Fernhurst: Red Cross in Fernhurst

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Sussex/BBRCS was started in 1910 by Dr Duke and Mrs Hollist. During the winter of 1914-15 a sickbay in No 2 Ashurst Cottages was equipped and staffed for the 9th Gordon Highlanders when they were billeted in the village. After this was closed, the detachment lapsed as there was no definite work to do. In 1939 it was restarted with Miss Hollis as Commandant. Miss S K Russell was in charge during the war. Members nursed in Haslemere Hospital and elsewhere. They also fitted gas masks for babies and children and coped with casualties from the bomb which fell in Church Road. Also they bought and equipped a hut for use as a first aid post. This was afterwards altered for use as a doctor’s surgery and has been staffed by members since 1945.

Many post-war activities were undertaken, including the distribution of food parcels to invalids and old people. A team has twice represented Sussex in competitions and very smart and thorough they were.

A club for the over 60s was started in 1951 and is still very active. Many elderly people look forward to this meeting and enjoy social contacts and games activities with tea provided by the Red Cross workers in charge. This is a very worthwhile meeting. The Red Cross in Fernhurst is a member of the National Hospital Reserve and do escort duty by train and ambulance. Also they maintain a panel of donors for the Blood Transfusion Service, driving for hospital service and collecting books for hospital libraries.

The following interesting notice has come to light and was issued before the First World War: ‘The Nursing Committee wish to make it known in the village that a maternity bag, etc is available for anyone in the Parish of Fernhurst who requires it’.

Thinking of the Red Cross, we must remember that the village was wholeheartedly behind the Nursing Association and many remember the fete that took place in the vicarage grounds in 1928 for this very worthy cause. What perfect organisation, social contacts and fun towards a common end for the community. It was a very fine day which greatly helped towards the success of the fete, as the Association then required £230 per annum and relied upon the special efforts to help make up this amount. The fete was organised by a committee with Mr Ohlenschlager as president, and ladies and gentlemen of the village forming the committee. Very popular games were enjoyed, one very successful one which did good business was the ‘Propeller’, associated with this was a portable wireless set, which provided interesting programmes during the afternoon and evening. Other stalls included ‘Whacking the ham’, hoop-la, coconut shies, bowling competition and deck quoits, under the charge of Fernhurst’s enthusiastic helpers. A fete without refreshments would not be at all complete and a selection was amply provided by the ladies of the village. The competition for children under ten years was a great success, the dresses were of paper and two children gave an exhibition of sword dancing to the accompaniment of bagpipes. Afterwards a concert was given in the vicarage. The proceeds amounted to £60, which was considered to be a very satisfactory result.

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The Fernhurst Oral History Project was supported by the Local Heritage Initiative. The Local Heritage Initiative was developed by the Countryside Agency and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Nationwide Building Society.