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1935: Many hours of willing labour ensure 280 of the poorest in Mid Sussex enjoy a good Christmas

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 01 January 1935


The thoughts of many people in Mid-Sussex undoubtedly turned towards West Hylands, the County Council Institution at Cuckfield, during the Christmas festivities. They can be assured that everything possible was done by the Master and Matron (Mr. and Mrs. J. H. W. Blunden) and their staff to give their 280 charges a happy time.

Both the old folk and the youngsters thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and the staff derived pleasure from what is, for them, one of the busiest days of the year. The interior of the Institution was, as usual, brightened with gay and seasonable decorations. The realistic snow scene, complete with a large snow man, inside the main entrance hall was picturesque, but did not represent the atmosphere prevailing throughout the remainder of the buildings.

The dining hall, for instance, was embellished with multi-coloured streamers and fairy lights. Evergreens, paper chains and brightly coloured artificial flowers were tastefully arranged in other parts of the house, the whole reflecting great credit on the Matron and her assistants. In the Infirmary each ward had a different decorative scheme. Miss Whittle (Superintendent Nurse) and her staff had obviously devoted


in arranging the charming scenes. The first female ward was converted into a realistic rose garden; a delightful carnival effect had been produced in the Anne Chamberlain ward (women); the Crib ward (men) had been transformed into a corner of Japan, with many homemade lanterns suspended on lines over the beds and a miniature Japanese garden on the centre table. Ward 26 (men) presented a pleasing sight with artificial chrysanthemums—looking so natural—in vases and bowls in the centre and paper chains suspended from wall-to-wall. A representation of a Maypole provided the central feature in the children’s ward, where there was also a decorated Christmas tree surrounded by toys dear to the child heart. The day rooms were adorned with paper chains and artificial flowers; a pretty garden scene was produced in the nurses' dining room; and the corridors were edged with corn and poppies.

Long before dawn on Christmas morning the kitchen staff started preparing the day’s fare. Sausages were served at breakfast, and this “extra” whetted the appetite of the inmates for the good things to follow later in the day. A cheery service was conducted in the morning by the Rev. Canon C. W. G. Wilson (Chaplain) in the chapel, his sister. Miss Wilson, being at the organ. The kitchen staff did their


when the menu comprised nicely cooked roast beef and pork, parsnips and potatoes, Christmas pudding, white sauce and custard. Turkey was served to the patients in the Infirmary and to the old men and women in the house.

There was no slump after the meal, for the men without relatives received gifts of tobacco and sweets from the Hurst Toe H. Branch. Oranges, apples, grapes, tobacco, tea, sugar and sweets from relatives and friends were enjoyed by all.

The children in the nursery had a Christmas party, for which the tree was kindly provided by Colonel Stephenson R. Clarke, C. B., J.P, There were also gifts for the youngsters from Mr. E. J. Waugh’s Fund and the County Council. Delicious Christmas cake was served at tea-time, and at the end of this meal it is safe to say that the inner man was completely satisfied! This also applies to the 32 casuals who spent Christmas Day in the Institution, for they partook of the same fare as was provided for the able-bodied inmates.

After dinner the Master visited the casual wards and distributed tobacco, matches and fruit. In the evening a large number of inmates of both sexes filled the dining hall for the usual concert, the programme for which was partly sustained by them. Small prizes, given by Miss H. S. Campbell, were awarded for the best efforts, and were handed over by the Matron. Mr. L. J. Reid acted as pianoforte accompanist. The items were interspersed by suitable cinematograph films. At the close


thanked the County Council for the extra fare provided and the staff for the ready manner in which they had performed their arduous duties during the day. Miss L. FitzGibbon. the Foster Mother at Orchard Cottage (the Children’s Home), had a family of ten youngsters to look after, and her efforts to give them a jolly day were entirely successful.

There was a party in the afternoon, and a distribution of gifts acquired through Mr. E. J. Waugh’s Fund and from a Christmas tree given by Mrs. Denny.

It should be mentioned that the County Council's grant towards the festivities in the Institution augmented by various private gifts, the donors being Mrs. E. A- Wallinger, Colonel Stephenson R. Clarke, Mrs. P. T. Reid, Miss Reid, Mr. James Galloway, Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Hawkes, Mrs. Winterbottom, Miss Steel, Mrs. Thompsett (Famham), Miss Whitford, Mr. T. Packham, Mrs. Killiek. Mrs. Wise, Mrs. F. Ellmer, Lady Mary Meynell, Mrs. Denny, Canon and Mrs. Wilson, Dr. and Mrs. C. J. Farr, Mr. F. Hoadley, Messrs. Kenneth and Neville Strachan-Davidson, Mr. Horace Finch, Mrs. Towse, Mrs. David Harris. Mrs. Douetil, the Misses Campbell, Mr. and Mrs. Jorgensen, Mrs. Magor, Mrs. Savill. the Hurst Branch of Toe H., the Balcombe Women’s Institute and the Cuckfield Rovers and Scouts.

The staff of the Institution assembled on Friday for the annual dinner and dance, a happy evening being spent by all.



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