Three weeks to McIndoe Day – and a proud tribute to ‘the town that didn’t stare’

WITH just three weeks to go before the statue of Sir Archibald McIndoe is unveiled outside Sackville College, Jacquie Pinney, Chief Executive of the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation, looks forward to the end of a ‘very exciting and very stressful’ project to honour East Grinstead’s most famous adopted son.

Jacquey Pinney

WHEN the appeal to raise £175,000 for the statue to honour pioneering plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe topped the one hundred grand mark this week, Jacquie Pinney allowed herself a small sigh of relief.

But only a small one.

There is still a long way to go and Jacquie is anxious that the on-going appeal doesn’t lose its momentum once Princess Anne unveils the statue on 9 June.

But at the same time there is enormous excitement at the Research Foundation that their hugely ambitious project to commission the McIndoe memorial is about to be realised.

The statue itself – heavily wrapped to prevent its being seen before the royal reveal – is due for delivery by crane on 6 June.

Mcindoe statue cutoutIt will then remain shrouded and hidden by hoardings until the early hours of 9 June when it will – ‘very swiftly’  laughed Jacquie – be unwrapped and draped in a cloth.

Thereafter it will be guarded from the gaze of the curious until the Princess arrives to reveal all at 1.30pm.

There have been one or two tweaks since the original design was proposed but – controversially in some circles – McIndoe will not be shown wearing glasses.

‘We were told they would be vandalised, and as McIndoe didn’t wear them all the time, and the family loved the proposed design, we went with that,’ said Jacquie.

The plinth on which the statue will stand is in the process of being installed and has been carefully colour-matched with Sackville College.

It wasn’t possible to use the same soft West Hoathly stone because it would not have been strong enough to bear the weight of the more-than-life-size bronze. But York Stone has proved a more robust substitute.

‘The idea for the statue was that it would show Sir Archie as a surgeon in scrubs which are accurately depicted as they were at the time, including the ties down the back.

‘The pilot is shown in RAF uniform, because that is what Sir Archie insisted his patients wore, not hospital uniform. He has his head resting against the man in whom he has complete faith and trust, and is looking towards the skies he will no longer fly.

‘McIndoe wasn’t just a surgeon – he was a real pioneer in that he completely understood the need to rehabilitate his patients either to fly again, or to get back into civilian life.

‘And to do that he enlisted the help of East Grinstead – the town that didn’t stare.

‘We wanted that aspect to come across very strongly – this is not just a statue, but a memorial. It’s a contemplative piece of art and we want people to sit around it and remember.’

The choice of Martin Jennings as the sculptor was a strangely appropriate one – although when she originally approached him Jacquie had no idea of his personal connection with McIndoe.

‘We very much liked the statue he had done of Sir John Betjeman at St Pancras station so I phoned him out of the blue to discuss it.

‘But when I explained what I wanted he suddenly went very quiet and I thought “he must think I’m some sort of nutcase…”’

Then, after a long pause, Jennings said ‘I have wanted to make a statue to McIndoe all my life…’

To Jacquie’s astonishment, Jennings revealed that his own father, a tank commander, had been badly burned during the war and had been treated by McIndoe.

And it is his father’s crippled hands that Jennings has incorporated into the depiction of the burned serviceman, as his own very personal tribute to both men.

The speed with which the statue project has come together is due largely to the generosity of local businessman Dave Brown, who underwrote the cost so that it could go ahead while there are still people alive who had either worked with McIndoe or who owe their lives to him.

Without his generous guarantee, it could have taken years to raise the funds said Jacquie.

But McIndoe’s legacy already lives on in the Research Foundation which bears his name.

‘He called his patients the Guinea Pigs because that is exactly what they were. He was passionate about the need to research better ways of treating them, but sadly he died before he could see the Research Foundation open.’

The date on which the statue to Sir Archibald will be unveiled was chosen by Buckingham Palace. But by curious coincidence 9 June is the date recorded on Sir Archibald’s Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons, which had been languishing in a drawer until Britain at War magazine recently paid to have it framed and put on display, when the very appropriate date was spotted.

Among the guests at the unveiling will be the actress Amanda Redman who was treated at the QVH as a child for a scalded arm, and Shelly Page Gublemann from Florida, the daughter of Flt Lt Geoffrey Page, a founding member of the Guinea Pig Club.


Flt Lt Geoffrey Page in his Spitfire

* The story behind the making of McIndoe’s statue has been made into a 75 minute film which will be shown free at Chequer Mead from 3pm on 9 June when the public will be welcomed to watch it and celebrate a very memorable day in the town’s history.

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Wasps hold Redhill to draw in first match of Ryman League

Redhill – 1
East Grinstead -1

A superb injury time equaliser from substitute Dan Turner gave Grinstead their first ever point in Ryman League football.

With seconds remaining Turner won the ball on the half way line, strode forward and hit a delightful chip over Tom Betts in the Redhill goal and into the top right hand corner.

It was a point Grinstead barely deserved as after a bright start Redhill created a host a good chances which should have given them an unassailable lead at half time.

Grinstead had two good chances inside the first five minutes. Sam Schaff fed Matt Geard inside the box but his touch was poor allowing keeper Betts to claim and then Schaaf was provider again this time with a cross from the left for Keiran Pamment unmarked at the back post but with the goal gaping he could only shoot straight at Betts.

Redhill then took over and created some great goal scoring opportunities. Chris O’Flaherty fired well over from the edge of the box before Gavin Gordon somehow fired over from 4 yards out following a good cross from the right.

O’Flaherty tried his luck again from range, this time Callum Christie was equal to his effort with a fine save that he tipped onto the post. Christie was again called into action to deny Gordon from close range with his legs.

John Sinclair then nearly gifted Redhill the lead with a poor back pass that was latched onto by Tyrone Pink, but having rounded Christie he delayed his shot and Grinstead managed to clear the danger. However from the clearance Pamment lost possession which allowed Gordon a free run on goal and although his first shot was well saved by Christie he made no mistake with the follow up.

Moments into the second half O’Flaherty went close with a header that flew just over the bar but following this Redhill seemed to settle for what they had which allowed Grinstead a slight foothold in the game.

Schaaf tried his luck with a volley on the turn which went just wide and then a Pamment free kick just eluded Tom Graves. Pamment himself then had a good chance on the right but he screwed his shot horribly wide of the near post.

Grinstead used all three substitutes to attempt to salvage a point and sent up centre half Graves as they played four up front in the final stages of the game. They looked they had missed their chance when with five minutes remaining substitute Layton Schaaf headed just wide from a right wing cross with Betts well beaten but Turner had other ideas with his superb equaliser on the stroke of full time.

Team: Christie, Sargent, Wilson, Sinclair, Cooney, Graves, Pamment, Belli (Turner 65), Schaaf S. , Geard (Schaaf L. 57), Hiller-Jones (Death 73) . Subs not used: Pelling, Fox

Match report by Stewart Ward

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Tandridge hold for Conservatives in council elections

TANDRIDGE district council was held by the Conservative party last night in the local elections, where a third of seats were up for the vote. The distribution of seats remained the same with UKIP failing to make any inroads, unlike the emerging national picture. Results for the European elections, which were also held yesterday, will be released on Sunday.

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Town’s claim to global fame

YEAR-long celebrations marking the town library’s 30th birthday continue with a talk about Victorian cleric John Mason Neale whose famous Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas put East Grinstead on the global map.

The talk – at the library from 7pm on 29 May – will explore what made the famous Warden of Sackville College such a controversial figure during his 20 years in office, the local buildings with which he is most associated, and his legacy.

Tickets are £3 and include light refreshments.

neale3King Wenceslas

‘GOOD King Wenceslas’ may be one of the world’s favourite Christmas carols but most of those who sing it don’t know it was composed in East Grinstead by the Rev John Mason Neale, during his tenure as the Warden of the High Street’s historic Sackville College.

There can be few people whose Boxing Day activities are better known or more spiritually uplifting  than those of the ‘good’ King, because while most of us settle for a day of cold turkey,  lukewarm levity and a rerun of Only Fools and Horses on 26 December, the eponymous monarch was made of altogether sterner – and  saintlier  –  stuff.

So no sooner had Wenceslas spied a poor man at his gate, than he set off – quite literally – in hot pursuit to alleviate his sufferings, warming the path of his less-than-enthusiastic page with the heat from his saintly footprints.

The story of Wenceslas and his act of Christmas charity is one which is known world-wide thanks to the popular carol which tells his story. But few people know anything about the real king –  or about John Mason Neale, the Anglican clergyman who composed the famous carol.

Mason Neale was born in London in 1818, and after studying at Cambridge was ordained in 1842, and offered a parish.

But in 1846, and dogged by ill-health, Mason Neale accepted the less strenuous post of Warden to Sackville College, an alms house for the poor of East Grinstead, where he remained for the rest of his life.

In 1854, Mason Neale helped found the Anglican Sisterhood of St Margaret, a move which was seen as ‘popish’ by local Protestants who feared he was an undercover agent of the Vatican.

The Warden’s continued support for the nuns saw him attacked at the funeral of one of the sisters, and from time to time crowds threatened to stone him, or burn him out of his Sackville home.

But Mason Neale continued to minister to his impoverished residents,  imposing fines on those who engaged in ‘secret swearing and the like’, until his essential goodness won over many of his critics.

A scholar, Mason Neale translated the Eastern liturgies, and many Latin and Greek hymns,  into English. He also composed many of his own hymns, and  in 1853 wrote his famous carol, choosing  King Wenceslas as his subject for a children’s song to exemplify generosity.

He set his words to a tune first published in 1582 in a collection of Swedish songs, and sung with a Latin text Tempus adest floridum  (Spring has unwrapped her flowers).

The pairing of his new words with a traditional tune soon made Wenceslas a much-loved Christmas favouritewhich has never fallen out of fashion.

But who was the real Wenceslas? And was he as good as Mason Neale’s words suggest?

Wenceslas’s grandfather, Borivoj, built the first Christian church in Bohemia, and a 1,000 year old oak still stands in Stochov, the  border castle which legend makes the birthplace of the young saint in 907.

It is said that Wenceslas’ grandmother,  St Ludmila, planted the tree to celebrate his birth, and that it was his sprinkled bath water which gave the oak its near-miraculous longevity.

Wenceslas was just 13 when his father Wratislaus died, and he became the Duke of Bohemia under the regency  of his mother,  Drahormira, until he reached his majority.

Brought up with a strong Christian faith by St Ludmila, Wenceslas believed in practical works of charity as a means of expressing his faith, and Ludmila urged him to take control of the throne by force and impose Christianity on the land.

But Drahormira joined an anti-Christian alliance, had Ludmila killed and seized power for herself. The country slid back into its old pagan ways and priests were persecuted.

Two years later Wenceslas overthrew his mother, banished her from Bohemia and make a firm return to a Christian way of life.

He built the Rotunda of St. Vitus, a sophisticated construction for its time, in Prague Castle, brought in priests to educate his people, freed child slaves and gave shelter to orphans.

And according to some sources, Wenceslas considered going to Rome and dedicating himself to the religious life.

He had discussions with his brother Boleslav about passing the throne over to him, but sometime between 929 and 935 he was murdered by Boleslav at the doors of a church.

But the Czechs never forgot their ‘good’ king  – or the legend that in times of  great difficulty for his people he would return to help them, riding out of Mount Banik on a white horse, leading an army of celestial knights to defeat their enemies and bring lasting peace to the land.

His picture was used on Bohemian coins, and the Crown of Wenceslas became the symbol for Czech independence.

And as Bohemia’s most famous martyr, Wenceslas was also adopted as the country’s patron saint.

His feast day is celebrated on September 28.


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What’s On guide to Grinstead by Sylvia Montague

EAST Grinstead Stamp & Postcard Club will be meeting at Chequer Mead Arts Centre on Tuesday May 20 at 7.30pm, meeting starts at 7.45pm.  New members welcome.

COLLECTORS Fair will be held at Chequer Mead Arts Centre on Wednesday May 21 from 10am to 3pm.  There will be coins, postcards, stamps and other collectables.  Admission is free, there is a cafe and parking opposite the Centre.  For further details phone 01342 327554.

EAST Grinstead Folk Dance Club will be meeting at Trinity Methodist Church, Crawley Down Room, Lingfield Road on Tuesday May 27 from 8pm to 10pm.  The caller will be Bob Weddell.  New dancers welcome, no previous experience required.  For more details phone 01342 321373.

EAST Grinstead Art Society will be meeting will be meeting in St Swithun’s church hall on Wednesday May 28 at 2.15pm (doors open at 2pm). It will be Gill Bustamante’s workshop following her demonstration at the last meeting.rspb_logo_rgb

EAST Grinstead Pensioners Association will be meeting in St Mary’s church hall on Wednesday 28 May starting at 2pm.  The lecture will be on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds by Brian Nobbs. All pensioners welcome.

THE East Grinstead Arts Society will be holding an exhibition in Queen’s Walk on Saturday 31 May.

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On yer bike – if you can find someone to hire you one…


A sign for National Cycle Route 21 directing the way to East Grinstead…

TOWN promotions officer Simon Kerr  – a man who doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘stumped’ – was saddened this week to be unable to help a couple of tourists who wanted to hire bikes for a ride along National Cycle Route 21.

NCR 21 is part of the UK’s national network of cycle paths and runs from Greenwich in South-East London, south to Crawley, then east to Groombridge and south to Eastbourne, with a short final loop northwards again to its end at Pevensey. The route is approximately 150 km/93 miles long.

So if anyone in town is thinking of starting up their own bike business, Simon wants to know all about it so he can send customers your way…

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New recruitment drive for 120 police constables

SUSSEX Police will be inviting applications from ‘dedicated, positive and empathetic’ people for up to 120 new Police Constable posts from 10am today.

A huge variety of roles are carried out by Police Constables and it is an incredibly challenging and rewarding job.

Commenting on their new recruitment drive, Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: ‘I’m pleased to be able to open the recruitment window again for Police Constables in Sussex.

‘I know the people of Sussex value their police force very highly and that they want to see more visible policing in the areas in which they live and work.

‘Sussex residents deserve the very best police force and I am confident that we will attract high calibre candidates who will serve the county well.

Giles York

Chief Constable Giles York

‘If you feel that you have what it takes and want to play your part we look forward to receiving your application.’

T/Chief Constable Giles York added: ‘I’m delighted to be opening up recruitment again. I will be welcoming up to 120 new officers to Sussex Police who will start their training in March next year.

‘Police Constables are an integral part of policing in Sussex, working closely with the community to protect them, cut crime and help manage crime and disorder at a local level.

‘I am looking for people with a range of skills and experiences and from a wide range of backgrounds who share our values and have the drive to make a difference in the communities they service.

‘I welcome applications from all members of the community as the force is currently under-represented by people from black and minority ethnic communities. This is an opportunity for talented individuals to come and find out what we have to offer.’

Applicants must:

be aged 18 years or over by 23 May 2014

live in Sussex at the time of application

possess a full UK manual driving licence

have achieved a standard of education equivalent to A Level or independent patrol status as PCSOs or Special Constables

The application window will remain open, 24 hours a day, until 4pm on Friday 23 May.

Applicants will not be at any disadvantage if they apply towards the end of the window, as long as their application has been received by the deadline.

To inform potential candidates about the process and what criteria an applicant must meet a briefing pack has been prepared which is available at

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Emily dances to Festival success

Emily Devine with adjudicator Jill Baldock

Emily Devine with adjudicator Jill Baldock

EMILY Devine, 14, is the first winner of the East Grinstead Music and Arts Festival Bursary Award.

The new Bursary was awarded to the overall outstanding performer at the Adjudicator’s discretion, and Emily received hers in front of a full house at Chequer Mead on Saturday.

Twelve of the top dancers from the Festival competed for the prestigious £500 award which is part-sponsored by the Fonthill Foundation.

The Bursary will help Emily, who studies at the Orwell School of Dance in Fleet, to further her dancing career

Festival Chairman Christine Mainstone, said: ‘The packed audience was treated to an amazing level of young dancing talent, and Emily deserves congratulations on being chosen as our first recipient of this Bursary.

‘I would also like to thank everyone who participated in our Festival, our adjudicators, volunteers, committee members, dance teachers and particularly the parents who travelled to East Grinstead from across the South East.

‘Chequer Mead is the perfect venue for our Festival and we are proud to have such an excellent facility in our town.’

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East Grinstead claim impressive win at Cuckfield

East Grinstead CC v Worthing - Grinstead fielding - bowlers are Ian Sturmer (far end) and Sam Jewiss (near end)

East Grinstead CC v Worthing – Grinstead fielding – bowlers are Ian Sturmer (far end) and Sam Jewiss (near end)

AFTER winning the toss, Grinstead opted to bat first and reached 198 all out, with Ollie Graham top scoring with an unbeaten 64, and Captain Will Adkin weighing in with 40 as Cuckfield bowler Chris Taylor took 5-71.

Taylor also starred with the bat for the hosts, scoring an unbeaten 52, but Jewiss took 3-10 as Grinstead bowled Cuckfield out for 138, claiming a 61-run victory for their first Sussex Premier Division win of the season.

The 2s and 3s also won their games, with the 4s sadly losing.

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Sun shines on St Peter’s School TV-themed funday


PUPILS at St. Peter’s primary school enjoyed the all-day sunshine at the TV themed funday, which took place on Saturday.

The TV theme was chosen by the children earlier in the year and the Friends of St. Peter’s had great fun putting together stalls and attractions with a television slant, including Cash in the Attic, Gardener’s World, Play Your Cards Right and The Great British Bake Off.

New Town Mayor Nick Hodges opened the funday and helped to judge the ‘Great St. Peter’s Bake-off.’ East Grinstead Police (The Bill) and Fire Brigade (Fireman Sam) joined in the fun and Let’s Move did a Strictly Come Dancing-inspired demonstration and workshop.

The Friends of St. Peter’s would like to thank all those who supported the event in particular local businesses who provided raffle and auction prizes. All money raised will go towards new AV, outdoor play and learning equipment.

Find out more about the Friends of St. Peter’s at their website

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