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1957: Partially Blind competitor competes in Easter Walking Race

Updated: Dec 31, 2022


On the eve of the Easter Monday walking race at Cuckfield Mr G. Hall, the organiser, was a rather unhappy man.

Only seven people had entered for the race, and he was thinking that here was another good old institution in danger of dying through lack of interest, but within a short time of the race 15 walkers - the average number in recent years - had entered.

Among the entrants was veteran E. Lingley, who will be 78 on Monday. He is now nearly blind, but he completed the course with the help of a former local champion, Joe Cook, who walked ahead, holding a white handkerchief, which Mr Lingley was able to see and follow. With a handicap of 25 minutes, Mr Lingley came in third, completing the course of about 5 miles (Cuckfield to Haywards Heath and back) in 70 minutes.

Not eligible for trophy.

First man home was 16-year-old John Ryder of Worthing, with a handicap of four minutes, who was home in 52 minutes. As John was not a local man he was not eligible for the cup awarded to the champion, which went to the runner up, 23-year-old James Simms (handicap three minutes), whose time was 53 minutes. The cup for the fastest time was won by E. Brigden (scratch), a 16 year old schoolboy, who was last year’s champion. His time was 51 minutes.

The vicar of Cuckfield (the Reverend J. G. Smart), newly arrived in the parish, entered heartily into the spirit of the race. He made an amusing M. C. and distributed the awards. Also active was the honourable Philip Kindersley, the President of the event, who was Judge. The committee comprised Mrs E. Hillman, W. Bennett, H. Abercrombie, F. Sparshott, A. Pierce, G. Viles, W. G. Norris and C. Mitchell. Mr H. Abercrombie was timekeeper and Mr F. Webber handicapper. The honourable treasurer was Mr V. Snape, landlord of the Rose and Crown Inn, the starting point.

Easter bonnets.

Entrants in the Easter bonnets competition (outside the Rose and Crown) which was held in conjunction with the walking race.

The ladies were not forgotten and while the race was in progress they had an Easter Bonnet competition, which was judged by Mrs Kindersley, Mrs Smart and Mrs Taylor. Wing commander Taylor acted as host to the judges who received bouquets from Miss Hall.

In the open section the winner was Mrs D. A. Pierce of Brook Street. Her bonnet was most attractive, the main motif being spring flowers, with eggshells used as miniature vases. Second was Miss M. Lawton, of the Talbot, third Mrs Dorothy Hillman, of the Kings Head, and fourth Mrs V. G. Manville, London Lane.

Other results were children's class - 1. Janice Potter (age 14); 2. Judy Chatfield (aged 10); 3. Barbara Grooms (aged 11); mother and daughter class:- 1, Mrs J. Turner and Miss C. Pike; 2 Mrs E. Coulstock and Francis (age 12) and Carol (age 13); 3. Mrs J. Lawrence and Susan (age 4).

The Rev. J.G.Smart presenting the cup for the local champion to James Simms

The Committee wish to thank all donors of prizes and also all those who cooperated to make the function a success.

Footnote: Thanks to The Middy for the story and photographs

Ann Stainton donated her Great Uncle Ernest Lingley’s walking cup from 1949 to Cuckfield Museum; he competed in that year and also in 1957

Ann writes....

My father’s uncle, Ernest Lingley, was awarded a cup as the ‘oldest competitor’, aged 70, in the Cuckfield Club Walk, Easter 1949. He lived at Ansty. At the time of the walk, he was partially sighted and attended the RNIB classes to make baskets. I recall a newspaper cutting and a photograph of him following a man who wheeled a bike in front of him with a large sign on the back. Uncle Ern could make out the sign and he therefore was able to complete the walk.

We have mislaid the newspaper cutting, but I wonder if you would be interested in having his cup for the museum?

We will find the elusive 1949 MId Sussex Times article and add it to Cuckfield Connections soon.



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