VILLAGERS and friends gathered to show their respect at the funeral of a gentle businesswoman who ran a local shop for more than 50 years.
Daphne Iris Harding ran the Village Stores in Lower Dicker. She was born in Lee, Lewisham on May 13th 1927 and died peacefully at the age of 84 at Eastbourne District General Hospital on May 8 after just 24 hours in hospital.
The funeral cortege left the Dicker Stores at 12.30pm on Wednesday (May 30) for a service at Hailsham Cemetery Chapel and burial at Hellingly Cemetery.
Her friend Pat Hope said: “The chapel was packed for her funeral with people showing their respect for a hardworking lady who had many ups and downs in her life but never lost her sense of humour or her amazing ability to communicate despite severe handicaps.
“The most remarkable thing was that Daphne was completely deaf and relied on lip-reading. There were lovely stories told at her funeral of people going in for a battery and coming out with a pound of cheese because she had misunderstood them.
“No one had the heart to tell her and she got it right 98 per cent of the time.”
A former secretary, Mrs Harding married her employer Stanley Harvey, an importer/exporter, in 1951. They lived in Chislehurst before moving to Hove.
Pat Hope added: “They bought the Dicker Stores in the 1960s, living next door with her parents in the flat above and a smallholding behind the shop for livestock, poultry, vegetables and flowers to sell. They also had a small shop opposite. Daphne never had children by choice.
“As supermarkets grew they downsized and sold the house near the shop and moved into the flat above. After her parents and husband died in the 1980s, Daphne ran the shop on her own.”
Mrs Harding won a Wealden small shops award in 2000. She retired due to chronic arthritus in 2005 and was looked after at the flat by carers until her death.
Pat Hope added: “The one thing she wanted more than any other was to stay in her beloved flat, and thanks to the carers and a handful of wonderful friends she was able to do this.”