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1927: RSPCA recognises Cuckfield woman's bravery in rescuing a puppy

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

West Sussex Gazette - Thursday 26 May 1927


CUCKFIELD WOMAN GOES DOWN A WELL Pluck shown by a Cuckfield resident in going down a 50 ft well to rescue a pedigree poppy is reported. Mrs Ellerbeck, of Little Mizbrooks, has a number of Skye terriers, and also a well in the hall of her house. Her kennel maid Miss Pedley, had brought the dogs in from a morning run, and was drawing water, when one of the puppies fell into the well. Without thinking of the risk, Mrs. Ellerbeck persuaded Miss Pedley and another occupant of the house to lower her in the bucket. She reached the puppy and sent it to the top while she supported herself against the brickwork about 30ft. from the surface. The bucket was lowered on the chain again and she was hauled to the top.

Mrs Bertram Ellerbeck (above) was lowered 25 ft down a well in the hall of her house

Mrs Ellerbeck saved the Skye terrier puppy which had fallen into the well. With her in the picture are her little son and two of her Skye terriers. There was almost 20ft of water in the wall.

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 02 August 1927

Lady’s Brave Rescue of a puppy.


The courageous action of Mrs Bertram Ellerbeck, of Little Mizbrooks, Cuckfield, who a short time ago descended a well to rescue a pedigree puppy, was rewarded yesterday (Monday) by the presentation of the silver humane medal of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The ceremony was to have taken place during the tea interval on the cricket ground, but owing to the heavy rain the venue was changed to the morning room of Cuckfield Park, by kind invitation of Mrs Hornsby, a keen supporter of the society’s work.

A Silver Medal, awarded by the RSPCA for animal life saving

Among those present were Sir William Gentle (chairman of the Brighton and District branch of the Society), Lady Gentle, Mrs Hornsby, Mrs Ellerbeck, Miss E.L.Bevan (Cuckfield Secretary of the Society), the Rev. S.G. Farrar, Miss Alice Farrer (a member of the Brighton and District Committee) and Miss Thomas (Haywards Heath).

Sir William Gentle said he regarded it as a very great privilege to be there, and on behalf of the R. S. P. C. A. to present the medal which was awarded for by no means common cases of extreme courage in saving the lives of animals. He thought the act for which that medal was awarded was just one of those ones in which it was fully justified. After giving a brief description of the rescue, the details of which were published in these columns at the time, so William stated that when the societies officer interviewed Mrs Ellerbeck she modestly told him that she had done no more than anyone else would have done. That might or might not be the case, continued the speaker, but it was comforting to know that there were people willing to take risks for the welfare of animals, and particularly interesting to members of the male sex to find a member of the opposite sex with so much courage as Mrs Ellerbeck. (Hear, hear). On the side of the medal were the words


And Sir William said he could not conceive anyone feeling greater satisfaction at receiving the medal, seeing that it demonstrated great courage in the interest of animals. They heard of acts of courage amid the excitement of a fire or in battle, but in Mrs Ellerbeck's case there was no excitement and no crowd to applaud. Without waiting a moment, I'm not stopping to consider her own safety, she descended the well and rescued the puppy, and he thought they would all agree that her conduct was commendable in the highest degree. There were eight or 9000 members of the society, and he had no doubt that everyone, and in fact all animal lovers in this in any other country, would like to say "thank you very much indeed". This is Ellerbeck then received the medal from so William, and in acknowledging the award she said she would have been more deserving of the honour if it had been someone else's puppy, but as it was her own it was only natural she should do her upmost to save it.

The Reverend S. G. Farah, having apologised for the absence of the Reverend Canon Wilson, who is away on holiday, remarked that it gave him great pleasure to say, on behalf of the people of Cuckfield, how much her brave act was appreciated. It would be an example to the younger people and help them to realise that it was their duty to be friends to animals.

One of the scouts laws impressed that, and one did try to instill in the boys and girls a love of animals. He knew that the mid Sussex Times found its way into most of the homes in Cuckfield, and he hoped that when the report of that presentation was read the boys and girls would realise more and more the necessity to be kind to the dumb animals. (Hear, hear).

Mrs Hornsby thanked Sir William Gentle and the Reverend S. G. Farah, and the former expressed his gratitude to Mrs Hornsby for the great interest she had taken in the matter. The company were entertained to tea before leaving.

Photograph courtesy of



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